No. 25 Buffalo faces Akron on Tuesday night at 7pmET in their first meeting. Buffalo is currently situated at No. 22 in the Net Rankings and they are tied for the lead in the MAC East with Bowlin Green at 8-2. Akron is 6-4 in the MAC East, which places them tied with Kent State for third place. In Jerry Palm’s latest Bracketology, the Bulls are seeded seventh in the East.
Buffalo needs to keep winning
Even though they have a strong Net Ranking, the Bulls have to keep winning. You just never know what the selection committee is thinking. They can pick an eighth-placed ACC team over an at-large MAC team, who beat West Virginia and Syracuse on the road. Those wins should be enough to put them in the tournament, assuming they finish strong in the MAC.
Buffalo has won three of their last four games, which included a 90-76 win over Central Michigan on Feb. 9 at home. They bounced back from a disappointing 92-88 road loss at Bowling Green on Feb. 1, giving 8.5. The Bulls need a 16-0 run to start the second half to propel them after being down 18 in the first half. Jeremy Harris led the Bulls with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while guard C.J. Massinburg added 18 points. Buffalo shot 54.8 percent from the field and 8-of-24 from beyond the arc. This was a sloppy affair, which included 15 Buffalo turnovers and 21 for Central Michigan. They rank sixth in the MAC in rebound margin with +3.0 and first in turnover margin at 4.30.
Massinburg leads the Bulls with 18.4 points per game, while Nick Perkins leads in rebounds. On the season, Buffalo ranks 9th in the nation in points per game with 85.0 on 46.6 percent shooting (34% 3pt). They allow 71.2 points per game on 41.8 percent shooting (31.9% 3pt).
Zips on a nice run
Akron is not in the same boat as Buffalo is. Even with a win and a big boost to their 117 Net Ranking, they aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. But a win over the Bulls could give them the confidence -booster needed to win the tournament. They have won four of five games heading into this matchup. A win over 6-4 Kent State, 72-53 on Friday was impressive in the sheer domination in the second half after leading by just one at the half. Loren Cristian Jackson led the Zips with 18 points, while Tyler Cheese added 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists (five turnovers). Akron shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 10-of-24 from beyond the arc (41.7%). They held the Golden Flashes to just 32.8 percent shooting and 4-of-25 from beyond the arc (16%).
Watch on 📺 ESPNU: https://t.co/zEFkpSSouJ
— Akron Zips MBB (@ZipsMBB) February 9, 2019
Defense has been a calling card for Akron. They rank 14th in the nation and first in the MAC in scoring defense (62ppg). They rank second in the MAC in field goal percentage defense (40.2%) and first in three-point defense. On the offensive end, they have struggled shooting three-pointers (31.7%) and rank last in the MAC in field goal percentage (41.3%). Daniel Utomi leads the Zips with 13.9 points per game, while Jimond Ivey leads in assists (6.5), field goal percentage (50.9%) and steals (1.3).
- Underdog is 4-1 ATS last 5 in series.
- 3-7-1 ATS last 11 Tuesday games.
- 1-4 ATS last 5 after a SU win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I can’t take anything away from Buffalo and what they’ve accomplished. But they are overvalued. This is also the best defensive team in the MAC against the best offensive squad. Buffalo lost to a good Bowling Green team on the road and an average Northern Illinois squad. Akron is 11-1 at home and they do just enough on the offensive end, while their swarming defense allows them to compete with just about anybody. It also helps to have players like Ivey, who is very experienced and will control the tempo. I love the home dog here.
Prediction: Akron +7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Since I’m going with Akron, I’m taking the under because of their exceptional defense. The Zips have gone under in eight straight games and they are allowing just 57.6 points per game at home and 28.1 percent 3-point shooting. Buffalo has had their issues on the road, shooting just 43.7 percent from the field. Akron will control the pace at home because they cannot run with the Bulls.
Prediction: Under 143
Half-Time Side Pick
Akron will get out to a fast start and the will be leading at the half. They might not be leading at the end of the game, but they will be pumped to win against the league’s top team.
Prediction: Akron +4
Half-Time Total Bet
I’m a little surprised that the first half line is that low with how Buffalo scores. So it’s not great value here but I’m still going under because Akron is an excellent defensive team and they’ll control the pace.
Prediction: Under 68.5