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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Quicken Loans Arena (20,562) -- Cleveland, Ohio. Television: SportsTime Ohio. Home Record: Buffalo 9-6, Ball State 8-8. Away Record: Buffalo 4-10, Ball State 7-6. Neutral Record: Buffalo 0-3, Ball State 0-0. Conference Record: Buffalo 7-9, Ball State 8-8. Series Record: Ball State leads, 13-9.
GAMES NOTES: The second round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament gets underway on Wednesday when the eighth-seed Buffalo Bulls and the fifth-seed Ball State Cardinals butt heads at Quicken Loans Arena.
Buffalo needed overtime to get past ninth-seed Central Michigan in Monday's first round as the Bulls survived with a with a 74-72 victory. The Bulls had lost four of their last five games of the regular season and posted a record of just 13-19 overall this season, including a 7-9 mark against conference foes.
Ball State had a bye through the first round but as the fifth seed did not earn a free pass through the second like the top four seeds. Ball State really turned it on down the stretch to earn its position as the Cardinals won five straight and seven of their last eight games to finishing 15-14 overall and 8-8 in league play. Ball State hasn't won a MAC title since 2000 but still owns the most conference championships with seven.
Although they come into this contest as the lower seed, the Bulls posted the 66-63 victory in the only meeting between these schools this season. Ball State still leads the all-time series though, 13-9.
Javon McCrea scored six of his team-high 21 points in overtime to lead the Bulls to their first round victory over Central Michigan. McCrea made good on 8-of-10 shots from the floor and also contributed eight rebounds and four blocked shots.
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 and he has been at it yet again during this campaign. 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 double figure scorers on the roster. However on Monday the combined to score 21 pints with Watson also dishing out six assists. Watson has now scored in double figures in eight of the last nine games including three efforts of more than 20 points.
Ball State barely survived in its regular-season finale as it squeaked out a 53-51 win over Northern Illinois. Jauwan Scaife scored 17 points as the only player in double figures for the Cardinals who needed a 52.2 percent shooting effort in the second half to collect the win.
Despite its winning record Ball State actually owns a negative scoring margin (-2.4) this season. The Cardinals are among the bottom five in the conference in points scored (65.4 pg) and field-goal percentage (.428). Scaife (16.2 ppg) has been pouring it on all season though he shoots at just a 39.1 percent rate from the field. Jesse Berry (13.0 ppg) is another scorer for the Cardinals that has suffered through shooting woes (.393). On the inside, Majok Majok (10.7 ppg, 9.9 rpg) has been a force and a constant double-double threat, while Chris Bond (8.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has been an efficient scorer finishing on better than 50 percent from the field.
Balance on offense will be a key in this contest as Buffalo focuses on stopping Scaife, while Ball State looks to slow McCrea. The Cardinals have a better supporting cast around their lead scorer and should get the win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 69, Buffalo 65
03/13 11:12:34 ET