Bulls lose in Oxford, need a favor tonight from Akron
The UB men’s basketball team could have made life easy for themselves with a win on the road against conference rival Miami (Ohio) last night – win the game, lock up third place in the MAC East, and take home a first-round bye in the MAC conference tournament next weekend.
Instead, the Bulls (17-11 overall, 9-7 MAC) fell to the Redhawks (13-17, 9-7) in Oxford, 73-62, despite a career-high 17 points from big man Mitchell Watt – no shocker, really, when considering Rodney Pierce, Calvin Betts, John Boyer, and Sean Smiley did a senior swoon and combined to shoot 6-of-34 (2-12 from 3) from the floor in the final MAC regular season game of their careers. I listened to the first half on WECK 1230-AM, and it sounded like Buffalo was playing a pretty decent road game, but I got sucked into a David Foster Wallace book that I took out from the Orchard Park Library, and the book won.
(A quick side note: reading The Sports Guy for years and then picking up Wallace is not unlike listening to The Goo Goo Dolls and then hearing The Replacements for the first time – “Ah ha,” you think, “this is where it comes from.” The footnotes, the verboseness, the offhand tone, the pop culture saturation – I’m onto you, Simmons. Speaking of style, Joe Posnanski’s new affectation – using * and italics as sort of mid-story footnotes in his SI essays – seems forced and more than a little annoying, which is too bad, because I generally enjoy Posnanski. And I guess I am guilty of the same thing right now. Back to the main post.)
The loss was more than a little disturbing, because UB apparently tanked in a key game against a tough conference rival.
“We didn’t just struggle shooting, we didn’t defend on the perimeter either. We were completely listless and the energy was not there.” said head coach Reggie Witherspoon. “What they did in limiting from the perimeter, opened opportunities inside but if we don’t have the energy to defend, it doesn’t help our efforts.”
Uh, Reggie…that’s on you, pal. If you can’t get your senior-laden team up for maybe the most important game of the season, then this program is in bigger trouble than playoff positioning.
Anyhow, the Bulls can still earn a first-round bye if things break the right way, which I will allow The Buffalo News to explain:
The loss means the Bulls (17-11, 9-7) will either be a No. 4 or 5 seed in the MAC Tournament depending on the outcome of today’s 8 p.m. game in Akron between the Zips and Kent State. The winner takes the MAC East title and top seed for the tournament, which will affect the tiebreaker scenarios for UB and Miami.
If Akron beats the Golden Flashes, the Bulls will be the No. 4 seed and earn a bye into Thursday’s quarterfinals in Cleveland. If the Zips lose, Miami will be the fourth seed with fifth-seeded UB hosting No. 12 Toledo at 2 p.m. Sunday in a first-round game.
An Akron win means UB is No. 4 because it would hold the first tiebreaker edge on Miami — record versus the tournament’s top seed. The Bulls split with Akron, while the RedHawks were swept by the Zips. If Kent State wins, since both UB and Miami split with Kent, the teams’ records against No. 2 seed Central Michigan will be used to break the tie. The Bulls lost to Central Michigan, while Miami beat the Chippewas.
So that’s where we stand…go Zips, I guess – although a previously-unexpected home game this weekend would be kind of nice.