Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Record: 28-3, 16-2
The Bulls were destined to win the MAC and that’s how it played out all season as they only have three total losses and enter the Tournament ranked in the AP Poll. While they’ve had some close Games, no one has the same kind of talent with CJ Massinburg (18.5 ppg) the best player in the conference, but they have five other guys that can hit double digits on a given night. Throw in the conference’s most efficient defense and it’s easy to see why most teams in the MAC don’t have a chance against them. This is their Tournament to win and they likely won’t be challenged ahead of the Championship. While any of these teams can put up a fight, Buffalo swept 2-seed Toledo and it will be hard to bet against them. The only thing going against the Bulls are some close results, beating Ohio by three, Toledo and Akron both by six. Granted, all of their close Games came on the road.
Record: 25-6, 13-5
ACCording to the numbers, the Rockets are the biggest challenger to Buffalo, but they couldn’t win at home and were wiped off the cOurt in a 110-80 road loss back in January. Toledo won at Bowling Green in its only meeting and that’s the main reason to trust them to reach the Championship. Similar to Buffalo, Toledo also has a variety of scoring with six guys getting at least 8.8 points per Game, which not many can say in the conference. The Rockets have an experienced lineup and are the best bet to upset the top seed. Their previous meetings don’t give much confidence, but a third time may be the charm.
Record: 20-11, 12-6
This looks like a long road for the Falcons, who will likely have to go through both Toledo and Buffalo if they want to get to the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t help that they’ve lost Four of their last five, one of those a terrible 24-point outing at Akron. While they shouldn’t have any trouble reaching the semifinals, beating Toledo and Buffalo on back-to-back days is a bit of a stretch for a team that isn’t playing its best basketball. Not to mention, they lost all three meetings to Toledo and Buffalo in the regular season.
The problem with being the 4- and 5-seed is that you have to beat Buffalo to get to the Championship. That won’t be an easy task for either Kent State or Central Michigan (or anyone in the conference). The Chippewas have one extra Game as the 5-seed so that doesn’t help, though they have the edge in the only meeting against the Golden Flashes this season, albeit at home.
Prior to last season, this Tournament was usually a toss up, but that’s not the case with how well Buffalo is playing. It beat Arizona in March Madness last season and could be in for a much better seed than the 13 it was given. However, since the Bulls would likely get an at-large bid, there’s reason to believe they won’t put everything into this Tournament. Then again, that’s not an easy thing to bet against when they have the best lineup in the conference. Toledo has the best chance to knock them off, and if that’s the final matchup, the Bulls would end up being around a 7-point favorite.