Eastern Michigan vs Buffalo Preview

Eastern Michigan vs Buffalo

The Buffalo Bulls (14-5, 6-0) will go for their eighth straight win on Tuesday night and look to improve to 7-0 in the MAC for the first time ever.  The last time UB won eight straight games was the tale end of 2014-15 when they won their final six regular season games and two in the MAC Tournament to win its first MAC Title.

The Eastern Michigan Eagles (11-8, 2-4 MAC) saw an eight-point lead evaporate in a 72-66 setback to Ohio University at the Convocation Center, Jan. 20.

Buffalo is the first Mid-American Conference program to score 80 or more points in every game during a seven-game winning streak since Marshall was still in the league and did it during the 1999-2000 season.

So far this season, the Bulls have been nearly unstoppable when taking a lead into the break.  UB is 13-1 when leading at the half this season and the Bulls are a perfect 11-0 when leading with just five minutes remaining.

Junior Nick Perkins tied his career high with 26 points off the bench for the Bulls last Tuesday against Northern Illinois.  Perkins has now come off the bench in nine straight games and he is averaging 18.2 points per game in those nine contests. Perkins is looking to become the 21st member of the 1,000 point club as he enters Tuesday night just 33 points shy of the mark.

The Bulls have won their last six games by double figures for the first time since the 1964-65 season when they did it 10 games in a row.

The Eagles trail the all-time series with Buffalo, 14-11. However, the Bulls have defended their home court exceptionally well, as EMU has not tasted victory inside Alumni Arena since the 2003-04 campaign. The two sides met just once last year in the opening game of MAC play in Ypsilanti, as the Bulls posted a 77-68 victory inside the Convocation Center, Jan. 7, 2017. In a game where the lead changed hands 11 times, Willie Mangum IV led the way for EMU with 17 points.

The Eagles have struggled on the road thus far, amassing a record of 2-6 while falling in both away MAC contests this season. EMU is averaging 10 points less on the road than at home, notching an average of just 69.2 points per game while wearing the green jerseys.

Surprisingly, the last time Eastern started its season 2-6 on the road was the 2014-15 campaign, which was also the last time EMU qualified for postseason play with an invite to the College Basketball Invitational.

Eastern Michigan’s defense has been one of the keys components to its success this season, with the Eagles swiping 174 steals and blocking 113 shots (both totals lead the MAC). EMU is second in the league in both defensive field goal percentage (.418) and scoring defense (69.5 points per game), and also ranks fourth in the conference with a +1.8 turnover margin.

The Bulls got a huge boost to their lineup prior to the Syracuse game on Dec. 19 as senior Wes Clark was cleared to play by the NCAA, marking his first collegiate game since February 13, 2016 when he played for Missouri.  Clark, who joined UB last January, has been practicing with Buffalo since then, but he was finally able to play in his first game at Syracuse.
Clark scored 15 points and had six assists in his UB debut, picking up the start and playing 34 minutes. Clark added 17 points and eight assists against Texas A&M.  Clark scored 27 points in his Alumni Arena debut on Dec. 29, scoring 13 of those points in the overtime period.  It was a new career high for Clark as he scored 26 against South Carolina, while playing for Missouri.
He played his high school basketball for Buffalo head coach Nate Oats at Romulus High School right outside of Detroit, MI.
Clark had 25 points and five assists in the win over Toledo.  Clark played his first ever college game in his home state of Michigan on Friday night at Western Michigan and was impressive finishing with 17 points and a career-high nine assists. He is averaging 6.3 assists per game.

Prediction

Buffalo is red-hot and should roll to another easy victory in conference play. The line is a little more difficult to predict–currently at -11.5 for the Bulls, another double-digit victory is expected, but conference opponents can always show up to play (especially when attempting to take down the conference leader).
LINE: -11.5 Buffalo
Buffalo 82 Eastern Michigan 66
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