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TUESDAY NEWS: UB MEN'S BASKETBALL STUNS NORTH TEXAS; YOUR WEEK 12 #MACTION PRIMER
Bulls get red-hot to shoot down Mean Green; does UB football have a shot against MAC West-leading NIU?
MEAN GREEN, MEET BIG BLUE: UB MEN RALLY FROM LATE DEFICIT, CLIP NORTH TEXAS
Image from ESPN+
Holy hot streak: down 56-45 with 8:51 remaining in the second half, the UB men’s basketball team rallied against defending Conference USA champ North Texas at the Mean Green’s notorious Super Pit to earn a 69-66 victory, the Bulls’ first of the season. Buffalo closed out the night by hitting nine consecutive shots while holding UNT scoreless for the final 4:49 of the game—including a flurry of Mean Green threes in the closing seconds.
Senior G Maceo Jack scored 18 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range, to lead the Bulls (1-1). Backcourt mate Ronaldo Segu added 17 points while senior F Josh Mballa collected a double-double with 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Senior F Jeenathan Williams, coming off a 32-point performance against #6 Michigan, struggled on 6-of-17 shooting but scored 14 points and dished out six assists.
Junior G Tylor Perry scored 18 for North Texas (1-1) in the loss.
Buffalo’s next game is Saturday, Nov. 20 against Rider at Alumni Arena. Tipoff is 2 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN3.
WEEK 12: STACKING UP THE MAC
Image from UBBulls.com
The weeknight spotlight continues to shine on the Mid-American Conference as we kick off Week 12 with a two (possibly three?)-way race for the East Division and five schools desperately trying to keep visions of bowl appearances dancing in their heads. Let’s take a look at the #MACtion:
TUESDAY NIGHT: DIRECTIONAL SHOWDOWN, THE BATTLE OF I-75, AND JOCKEYING FOR THE EAST
Toledo (-7) at Ohio, 7 p.m., ESPN+. It’s the MAC’s Disappointment Bowl—both of these teams were expected to compete for the conference championship, and both have struggled to remain relevant. Toledo (5-5 overall, 3-3 in the MAC) has won two of its last three and is scoring at a dominant clip, racking up an average of 44 points per game. QB Dequan Finn’s thrown for eight TDs and RB Bryan Koback’s rushed for 401 yards and four TDs over this stretch. While the Rockets have no shot at the West division title—even if they win out, losses to Northern Illinois and Central Michigan are dealbreakers—Ohio (3-7, 3-3) still has an outside chance to take the East. If the Bobcats win out, Kent State drops its last two, and Miami (Ohio) loses to Bowling Green this week and knocks off Kent State in its season finale, Ohio finishes on top. Credit first-year head coach Tim Albin for turning the ship around with a big 34-26 win over high-scoring Eastern Michigan last week and white-knuckling a clutch 35-33 win over Miami (Ohio) in the Battle of the Bricks two weeks ago.
Western Michigan (-5.5) at Eastern Michigan, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2. WMU QB Kaleb Eleby’s been one of the anticlimactic stories of the season. Touted as a dark horse early-round NFL draft pick (and may still be), Eleby’s thrown for five fewer TDs (13) through nine games than he did in six (18) during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. His QB rating is down 50 points, he’s been sacked 14 more times, and he’s throwing for 35 fewer yards per game. His Broncos (6-4, 3-3) face their directional rival, the Eagles (6-4, 3-3), and Cincinnati transfer QB Ben Bryant, the MAC leader in completion percentage (69.7%) and passing yards (2,544). There’s barnburner potential here—EMU is has the number-two passing offense in the MAC, and WMU is number four. When the two teams met in 2020, the Eagles won 53-42. Combined, these squads have scored 40 or more points seven times this season.
Bowling Green at Miami (Ohio) (-17), 8 p.m., ESPNU. Miami truly shot itself in the foot when it lost to Ohio two weeks ago—that loss to what was a one-win team gave the Bobcats life in the MAC East title hunt and prevented the RedHawks (5-5, 4-2) from taking the inside track. Miami’s led by sophomore QB Brett Gabbert, who leads the MAC in QB rating (164.2) and yards per completion (9.1 yards), and is second in passing TDs with 18. BGSU (3-7, 1-5) only has two wins over FBS competition, but they’ve been doozies—a 14-10 upset of Minnesota and a 56-44 whupping of Buffalo that shattered the Bulls’ season. The Falcons are 122th in the country in ESPN’s FPI, but Miami needs to take care of business against this tricky intrastate foe to ensure its final game of the season against Kent State is for a shot at the conference championship.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: THE WEST COULD BE WON
Central Michigan at Ball State (-2), 7 p.m., ESPNU. Ball State’s last-second 30-29 loss to Northern Illinois a week ago eliminated the Cardinals (5-5, 3-3) from West Division contention. Central Michigan (6-4, 4-2) still can win the crown, despite their own heartbreaking one-point loss to the Huskies—a 39-38 decision on Oct. 23. If the Chippewas win out, beating Ball State in Muncie this week and Eastern Michigan at home on Black Friday, and NIU loses to Buffalo on Wednesday and Western Michigan on Nov. 23, CMU will play for the MAC championship in Detroit. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. ESPN’s FPI gives Central Michigan a 22% chance to win both of its final two games, while Northern Illinois has 8.8% odds.
Northern Illinois (-1.5) at Buffalo, 7 p.m., ESPN2. We covered this ground fairly extensively earlier this week. The easy narrative for this game is that it’ll be won in the trenches—the Huskies (7-3, 5-1) and the Bulls (4-6, 2-4) aren’t just two of the top three rushing teams in the MAC, they’re the 15th and 30th-ranked ground attacks in the country, respectively. The real story, at least if you’re a Buffalo fan, is whether or not the UB defense can get enough stops to keep this game respectable. Yes, the Huskies have skated on a razor’s edge from an 0-6 2020 record to the verge of a MAC West title—if they win, they’re in—but UB can’t stop anyone right now. And while NIU can run the ball—five players have rushed for over 200 yards, including 734 for freshman RB Jay Ducker— they’re dangerous through the air, too, with a seasoned vet at QB in Rocky Lombardi and a talented crew of receivers featuring freshman Trayvan Rudolph (747 receiving yards, 7 TDs), senior Tyrice Ritchie (540 yards), and junior Cole Tucker (369 yards). The weak spot for the Huskies is defense, where they’ve among the worst in the nation in takeaways, and 119th in the country against the run (Buffalo is 112th, unfortunately). The UB offense in general, and junior RB Dylan McDuffie (35th in FBS in rushing yards with 857), specifically, need to have huge days. It’s possible!