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Central Michigan (11-19) at Buffalo (12-19)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, March 11, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Alumni Arena (6,100) -- Buffalo, New York. Television: None. Home Record: CMU 6-6, UB 8-6. Away Record: CMU 2-12, UB 4-10. Neutral Record: CMU 3-1, UB 0-3. Conference Record: CMU 4-12, UB 7-9. Series Record: Series tied, 11-11.
GAME NOTES: The 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament is set to begin as the Central Michigan Chippewas visit Alumni Arena to tangle with the Buffalo Bulls in a first round matchup.
The ninth-seeded Chippewas are 11-18 overall and finished 4-11 in MAC action. Coach Keno Davis watched his team lose 10 games in a row before entering March, which it started with back-to-back wins over Northern Illinois and Eastern Michigan. CMU then came up just short in its regular season finale at Western Michigan and dropped a 71-68 decision. Kyle Randall led the team in the loss with 23 points and Blake Hibbitts chimed in with 17 off the bench.
The Chippewas have been unable to pick up many wins this season despite the solid play of Randall. The UNC Greensboro transfer averaged just 5.7 ppg as a Spartan in 2011-12 before transferring to the Mid-American Conference to net 18.3 ppg. Unfortunately the 5-foot-10 guard has not had much help as Hibbitts is a distant second in the scoring column with 8.9 ppg. CMU is a slightly better than par unit offensively in the MAC with an average of 67.3 ppg, but it has the worst scoring defense in the 12-team league with an allowed average of 71.7 ppg.
CMU took on Buffalo at Alumni Arena on Jan. 30 during the regular season. The Bulls coasted to a 91-73 decision in the lone season matchup as they shot 57.7 percent from the floor and led from wire-to-wire. The Bulls' win tied the all- time series through 22 encounters.
The eighth-seeded Bulls are 12-19 overall and concluded their regular season with a 76-65 setback at Bowling Green that dropped them to 7-9 in league games. The loss was the second-straight and fourth in five games for coach Reggie Witherspoon's team, which was the first to defeat Akron in MAC play. A strong offensive showing will be key for the Bulls, who are 8-2 when scoring 70 points or more but just 4-17 when being held to 69 or less.
Javon McCrea is the leader at both ends of the floor for Buffalo, as the 6- foot-7 junior is shooting .562 from the field, while leading the team in scoring (17.8 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and blocked shots (83). Tony Watson complements with his perimeter shooting, converting .447 from behind the arc (74-of-160) and posting 11 ppg. Will Regan had averaged 13.4 ppg in the three games prior to the regular season finale, in which he was held scoreless after going 0-of-5 from the field.
McCrea is going to be the best player on the court and may be able to carry the Bulls into the second round all on his own. The Bulls' role players need to use this opening round bout as a chance to get into a rhythm, as they have the best shot of any first round team of making a run deep into the tournament thanks to their star forward.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Buffalo 76, Central Michigan 66
03/11 10:32:08 ET