Buffalo (19-10) at American University (20-11)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bender Arena (4,500) -- Washington, D.C. Television: None. CIT Record: Buffalo 2-1, American 0-0. Series Record: American leads, 3-1
GAME NOTES: For the second year in a row, the Buffalo Bulls will participate in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, as they travel to Washington, D.C. to take on the American University Eagles in first-round action.
Buffalo (19-10) finished the regular season by winning three in a row to move to 12-4 in the Mid-American Conference, and it went into the conference tournament as one of the favorites. It earned a double-bye in that event, but fell to eventual champion Ohio University in the semifinals, 77-74. The Bulls advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIT last season after beating Quinnipiac and fellow MAC member Western Michigan in their first two games.
American has advanced to the postseason for the third time in the past five seasons after going 10-4 in the Patriot League. The Eagles won their quarterfinal-round bout in the conference tournament over Army, but then went on the road and lost to Lehigh in the semifinals, which continued on to defeat Bucknell in the finals and earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. American's 20-11 season overall is its fourth 20-win season in the past five years.
American has a 3-1 edge in the all-time series with Buffalo, although the teams haven't meet since the 1973-74 season, when the Eagles prevailed in an 85-76 final.
Buffalo is led by the MAC's Player of the Year in Mitchell Watt. The 6-10 forward has been a force all season long, as he was the league's top scorer (16.6 ppg) and he ranked in the top-five in field goal percentage (.558), rebounding (7.6 rpg) and blocks (2.3 bpg). Watt wasn't the only weapon for the Bulls's top-ranked offense (72.7 ppg), as Javon McCrea joins him in the frontcourt and put up comparable numbers, tallying 14.8 ppg on 57.1 percent field goal efficiency, 7.1 rpg and 1.2 bpg. Zach Filzen reaped the benefits from the outside, netting 11.9 ppg while draining a league-best 88 three- pointers. Jarod Oldham struggles from the field (.295), but he is able to take advantage of the potent scorers around him, handing out a league-best 6.0 apg. Though BU has a top-flight rebounding margin (+7.2), it is oftentimes canceled out by a very poor turnover margin (-3.41).
American owned the second-best defense in the Patriot League, allowing just 61.7 ppg to its opponents on a mere 40.7 percent field goal efficiency, and while its offense has been below average (64.5 ppg), it has been deadly from three-point range, draining 220 long-range buckets at a 40.1 percent clip. Charles Hinkle is the catalyst for the Eagles, earning First Team All-Patroit League honors after ranking second in the league in scoring (18.3 ppg), third in free-throw percentage (.834) and first in three-pointers (81). Troy Brewer is the only other player to average double figures with 11.9 ppg, and Daniel Munoz does a good job distributing to his scorers with 4.3 apg. While Tony Wroblicky doesn't contribute much on the scoreboard (6.4 ppg), he leads the team in both rebounding (5.9 rpg) and blocks (1.5 bpg), while starting 30 of 31 games at center.
These two teams are near polar opposites, and this game will come down to American's tight defense versus Buffalo's terrific scoring offense. The Eagles get a few bonus points for holding the home court, but in the end they will not be able to keep pace with the Bulls' dynamic duo in the paint.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 71, American University 65
03/14 10:34:04 ET