By Michael Reghi
Plenty of 'hearts', with great affection attached to them, have to go out to virtually the entire MAC East on this traditional day of love! As we ready for the final 3 weeks of MAC regular season play within the divisions, we send out Valentine's to the division that just completed a 30 win - 6 loss blitzing of their West counterparts. That's just enormous! And somewhat defies logic.
Akron, Kent State, and Buffalo all fashioned perfect 6-0 marks in crossover play, setting themselves up to battle for an East crown. And it begins tonight, as Buffalo takes their 8-game winning streak into the MAC Center to face Kent State, winners of 6 in a row, at 7pm with yours truly and Steve Mix on Sportstime Ohio.
Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon has done an amazing job with his Bulls, taking over a program that was teetering on the brink of extinction 13 seasons ago, and making it relevant with the ability to sustain winning. In the last 9 seasons the Bulls have averaged 18 wins per, with the current senior class of Mitchell Watt, Titus Robinson, Zach Filzen, and Dave Barnett winners of 75 games and counting, the most for any senior class in UB history. The Bulls are extremely balanced, leading the MAC in 6 different team categories, with the distribution equally spread on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.
In 6-7 sophomore sensation Javon McCrea, the Bulls have a legitimate MAC Player of the Year candidate, who is superb inside the free throw line on both ends of the floor. In combination with 6-10 center Mitchell Watt, the Bulls duo, who I believe to be the best twosome around the rim any team in the MAC has, averages 30.7 points per game, on 56% shooting, with 15 rebounds, and 4 block shots between them per night. Sparkling!
Here's the Buffalo rub as it pertains to Kent State. The Bulls have dropped 12 straight to the Flashes in the MAC Center, losing by an average of 20 points per! The Bulls have shot just 37% in the 12 setbacks, and average just 62 points, while Kent State has averaged 82 points in the 12 wins. That must change for Buffalo to continue their current winning ways and it won't come easy.
Kent State is playing at a premium level, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's watched the MAC during this 13-year run of Golden Flashes dominance. After they dropped the 84-75 decision to archrival Akron on January 21st, I looked at the Flashes remaining schedule, which included Ball State and Western Michigan from the West at home, and East rivals, Buffalo, Akron, and Ohio at home, and proclaimed you shouldn't be surprised if the veteran, tournament toughened Flashes ran the table! They've ripped off 6 straight, going from 2-3, to 8-3, and in position to grab one of the coveted top 2 seeds heading into tournament time.
Reigning MAC Player of the Year Justin Greene is demanding the basketball more, and his numbers have ascended accordingly, the big fella's gotten warm! Averaging 18 points per game in the last 3 games, on 57% shooting, with close to 7 rebounds per, the Flashes offense, with Greene as the centerpiece, outstanding guards Randall Holt and Carlton Guyton lighting it up from deep, and with the ability to slash to the rim, along with the spectacular high rising skills of Chris Evans off the bench, Kent State can get you spread out in plenty of ways.
I love this matchup tonight...and you will to. So find a way to share a cozy Valentine's night with your special someone, and MAC hoops! See you at 7pm on Sportstime Ohio.
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