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CBI Preview: Buffalo Bulls vs Wichita State Shockers
Previewing Buffalo's 1st Round CBI game @ Wichita State
It’s NCAA Tournament dreams dashed Saturday by Akron, the Bulls won’t be in the ‘Big Dance’ but one of the smaller ones. Buffalo will be a part of the second College Basketball Invitational (CBI) put on by the Gazelle Group out of New Jersey. The 16-team tournament is unique in its reseeding of teams at the semifinal stage and best-of-three championship series. Two MAC teams, Ohio and Miami, participated in the inaugural edition of the tournament. Miami lost to eventual champion Tulsa in the first round and Ohio was knocked out by Bradley in the quarters.
Buffalo will take on Wichita State in the first round, with the tip set for Wednesday at 8pm in Wichita. The Shockers finished the season 8-10 in Missouri Valley Conference play and 16-16 overall. Buffalo was 11-5 in the MAC and 21-11 overall.
This is an interesting matchup as each of these conferences was down this year. The MVC is ranked 9 th in the Sagarin conference ratings but only conference champion Northern Iowa advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Two teams from the Valley went to the Tournament in 2007 and a staggering four represented the conference in 2006. The MAC is having an even greater down year, ranked 18 th in Sagarin’s ratings.
Wichita State had its heartbroken in the quarterfinals of the MVC Tournament, losing to Creighton on Booker Woodfox’s buzzer beater that you probably saw on Sportscenter. The Shockers are a relatively young team, with forward Ramon Clemente the sole senior in the rotation. Clemente is the team’s leading rebounder at 7.3 per game. The top scorers are freshman guard Toure’ Murray and junior guard Clevin Hannah. Each put in 11.1 points a game. Hannah also distributes well from the point, with 4.2 assists per game.
Buffalo and Wichita are very even in a lot of facets of the game. Buffalo allows opponents to shoot 42.8 percent from the field to Wichita’s 43.5 percent shooting defense. The Shockers have a slight edge in field goal percentage (43.6 to 41.5 percent). Each of these teams is prone to a scoring drought if Murray/Hannah or Pierce are off.
Watch out for who can perform better on the boards, as it is each team’s strong point. Buffalo’s rebounding margin is 5.5 and Wichita’s is 5.3, both good enough to lead their conferences. This battle could be the difference in the final outcome.
Coming off a 4-point performance on 1-9 shooting in the MAC Championship loss, Rodney Pierce needs to contribute much more for Buffalo to win. The junior averages 14.3 points a game and if he is not up in double-digits, it is difficult for Greg Gamble and Calvin Betts to compensate. The Bulls will also need to find some more success from beyond the arc. They hit just three of 16 against Akron.
Wichita State has an impressive out-of-conference win against Siena and has also beaten Horizon champ Cleveland State. It lost by just eight to both Georgetown and Michigan State. The Shockers will want badly to wash that bad taste of a conference tournament buzzer beater loss out of their mouths.
This will be a tough game decided by defense and the battle on the boards. Whichever team’s scorers find a shooting rhythm will also have an advantage. Wichita State has had a longer layoff but I’m not sure there is any real credence to the notion that more or less time off is a big factor. I do think the location will play a large part. MVC schools and Wichita State in particular always draw well. The Shockers are excellent at home, going 13-3 and beating the top three MVC teams, while Buffalo is just 7-6 on the road. The home court advantage could tip the scales.
Prediction: Wichita State 66, Buffalo 60
By Connor Kiesel