The University at Buffalo women’s team will be there, and now it’s the men’s turn to try and punch their ticket to Cleveland in a first round Mid-American Conference Championship game tonight at Alumni Arena.
The eighth-seeded Bulls (12-19, 7-9 MAC) will be host to No. 9 Central Michigan (11-18, 4-11 MAC) with the winner advancing to face No. 5 Ball State in a quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. It will be the third MAC Tournament meeting for UB and CMU (7 p.m., Radio 1230 AM).
The Chippewas defeated the Bulls, 80-74, in the first round in 2007. UB won the second meeting, 64-50, in 2011.
In the regular-season game between the teams, UB got an unexpected boost from reserve Cameron Downing in a 91-73 victory at Alumni Arena on Jan. 30. Downing scored a career-high 21 points.
Central was led that night, as it has in the vast majority of its games this season, by 5-foot-10 senior guard Kyle Randall (18.3 points per game).
Junior Javon McCrea leads UB in scoring (17.8) and rebounding (7.9). He is the first player in UB history to make 200 field goals in a season (219) and has 39 more than any other player in the MAC. McCrea ranks in the top three in the conference in scoring, rebounding, field goal percentage and blocked shots – making him a strong candidate for conference Player of the Year honors, which went to UB’s Mitchell Watt in 2012.
Statistically, UB has the advantage over CMU in most key areas except for free-throw shooting (72.6 to 69.4) and turnover margin (minus-2 for CMU to minus-4.5 for the Bulls).
Tonight figures to be the final home appearance for seniors Tony Watson and Richie Sebuharara.
The UB women play Miami (Ohio) at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.