Buffalo wins 3rd MAC Championship in 4 years after beating Toledo, 76-66

You can Party Hard Buffalo! The Buffalo Bulls are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last 4 years.

It sure took a lot of time to secure the Bulls victory, but they waited only 2 years to re-celebrate what has been an improbable run late to send their team back to the Big Dance.

Believe it, Western New York.

After a game that looked pretty close to get things going, the largest lead by either team in the entire first half was 6 points 32-26 Buffalo and that was 19 minutes into the first half. The Bulls led 34-29 at Halftime after shooting 48% from the field on 15-31 field goals and 2-3 free throws. Buffalo (26-8) was largely led yesterday by tournament MVP Wes Clarke scoring 11 points in the first half after a red hot 5-6 on field goals in the first half. Making literally everything including a free throw shot he made to make himself 1-1 from the line, a lot of players had to step up for the bulls to make this run happen. Buffalo’s best player CJ Massinburg did not have his best weekend scoring 18, 14, and 4 in the title game after being named by the Conference first team All-MAC.

It was a very different story for the opposing team for Buffalo, the Toledo Rockets who came in without 2018 MAC Player of the Year Tre’Shaun Fletcher who was senior this year as well, so that was a tough way to go down after being a win away from the program’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1980, the inaugural conference tournament. Especially in Mid-Major Conferences, this is the night all year that people wait to play for, only to get hurt 23 seconds into the 1st half of their semifinal game.

The team sure figured out a way to play without Fletcher for the first 35 minutes having them tied 63-63 with 5:36 to play in the second half and at that time was when the Buffalo Bulls came back and woke up to a point to where the game was 72-63 with a 1 minutes 45 seconds left in the game.

All that Toledo could hope for was stops at this point, from here on out, the closest Toledo cut this was to 72-64 with 40 seconds left. At that point, Buffalo and their fans were already celebrating because they took a title back  to Buffalo.

With Buffalo crowning their MAC Title, you could say this was one of the best winters in Western New York Sports History. Along with this win, the Buffalo Bills NFL Team made their playoffs back in December for the first time since 1999. This is the first time both organizations made their top postseason of all time.

Some players that really performed well for Buffalo were Wes Clark scoring 26 points and on top of that 10-15 field goals which was good enough for him to be named the Most Valuable Player for the weekend. Nick Perkins also stood out in this weekend’s MAC Tournament who won MAC 6th man of the year scoring 16 points on Saturday on 6-15 field goals. You could also say that Jeremy Harris had overall a good weekend, only scoring 10 points in the title game but he had 27 in the quarters against Central Michigan and 22 on Friday against the Defending MAC Champions Kent State in the Semi-Finals.

For the Toledo Rockets, the story was very different for the fact that their best player, Tre’Shaun Fletcher went down in the first 23 seconds of Friday’s game against Eastern Michigan. Toledo still figured out a way to beat not only Eastern Michigan, but they were tied with buffalo 35 minutes into the title game. It was not enough to go to the NCAA Tournament. The 2 players who stood out on Toledo were the Jackson Brothers, Marreon and Willie. Who each grew up in the area in Garfield Heights.

Up Next:

Buffalo: Either or Thursday or Friday game in the NCAA Tournament, likely as a 12 or 11 seed

Toledo: Most likely the NIT as low seeded team this Tuesday or Wednesday depending on how things work out.

The Buffalo Bulls are headed to their 3rd NCAA Tournament in School history and their 3rd in the last 4 years.

Best of luck next week, Buffalo

-Hugh Thorp-Co-Founder and President of 216 Sports