Buffalo (14-19) vs. Kent State (19-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio State. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Buffalo 9-6, Kent State 11-6. Away Record: Buffalo 4-10, Kent State 8-6. Neutral Record: Buffalo 1-3, Kent State 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 7-9, Kent State 9-7. Series Record: Kent State leads, 28-8.
GAME NOTES: The eighth-seeded Buffalo Bulls will play their third game in four days as they take on the fourth-seeded Kent State Golden Flashes in the quarterfinal round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament at Quicken Loans Arena.
The winner of this game advances to play the top-seeded Akron Zips in the semifinals.
Buffalo began its postseason on Monday with a hard-fought, 74-72 victory over Central Michigan at home in the first round. Reggie Witherspoon's squad then advanced to the portion of the tourney held at Quicken Loans Arena to coast to a 76-61 upset of the fifth-seeded Ball State Cardinals. Will Regan scored a career-high 36 points on Wednesday to propel the Bulls past Ball State, which went just 6-of-24 from the field in the second stanza of the contest.
Also getting in on the action on Wednesday, Javon McCrea recorded a double- double with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls. Raph Thomas-Edwards chipped in eight points off the bench. Tony Watson II was reserved, shooting just four times in 39 minutes. He did manage to deal out eight assists and swipe four steals in the victory. McCrea (17.9 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.7 bpg) has been one of the best bigs in the MAC over the past two seasons. The 6-foot-7 forward ranked among the top five in the conference in points and blocks while fitting into the top 10 in rebounds. McCrea hasn't had as much help this season with Tony Watson (11.1 ppg) and Will Regan (10.2 ppg) the only other active double figure scorers on the roster.
Kent State owns a 28-8 all-time series lead and although it swept the season- series with Buffalo this season, although it was anything but easy. The Bulls fell, 83-81, in overtime when they visited Kent on Feb. 27. McCrea averaged 32.5 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest in his two games against the Golden Flashes this season.
The Golden Flashes are one of the hottest teams in the conference with five- straight victories and seven in their last eight. Kent State closed out its regular season with a 68-64 upset of the regular season champion Akron Zips. Coach Rob Senderoff has a very advanced and complicated offensive system that will make the opposition's scouting report very difficult to follow.
Chris Evans has developed into one of the best all-around players in the league as he paces Kent State with 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest. Randal Holt, who continues to build on the school's all-time record for 3- pointers made, checks in with 14.4 ppg thanks to his 80-of-207 showing beyond the arc. Darren Goodson may be the x-factor for KSU as he has scored at least 12 points in four of his last five games and only failed to do in a blowout win over Miami.
The Bulls are not playing like an eight-seed and could very well advance all the way to the tournament title game behind their leader. McCrea is as good as anybody in the conference and if he continues to get exceptional help from Regan and Watson, then Buffalo will be dancing when the tournament concludes. Luckily for the Golden Flashes, they have a very talented forward of their own who may be good enough to counteract anything McCrea does.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kent State 74, Buffalo 72
03/14 10:39:08 ET