Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: CJ Massinburg
- The 12-team MAC tournament will start Monday night on campus sites of the higher seeds in the first-round matchups.
- Defending MAC tournament champion Buffalo (-225) enters as the clear favorite and will also have the support of every bubble team.
- I don't foresee this battle-tested veteran Buffalo team getting upset, but there is one potential deep futures sleeper worth exploring.
The MAC tournament winner is a historically dangerous NCAA Tournament first-round opponent. In 2012, Ohio University made a deep run with upset wins over Michigan and South Florida, before an overtime Sweet 16 loss to North Carolina. And of course last year, the No. 13 seeded Buffalo Bulls steamrolled No. 4 Arizona 89-65.
The 12-team MAC tournament will start Monday night with the first round, featuring seeds 5-8 hosting seeds 9-12. The winners of those games will then head to Cleveland to join the top-four seeds (Buffalo, Toledo, Bowling Green, Kent State) for Thursday’s quarterfinals at Quicken Loans Arena.
All teams are looking up at the Bulls, who will make the dance regardless of the outcome in Cleveland. Currently projected as a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, Buffalo has won this tournament in three of the past four years.
Can anyone beat the Bulls and potentially steal an NCAA tourney bid from a bubble team? Let’s take a look at the top contenders and consider the best potential sleeper worthy of your attention.
2019 MAC Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: All 12 MAC teams
- Format: Top 4 seeds receive a bye
- When: March 11, 14-16
- Where: Cleveland, OH
- How to Watch: ESPN+, ESPN2
- Defending Champion: Buffalo
Who Should Win?
Buffalo (-225). Early and often.
The Bulls (28-3) returned their top three scorers from last year’s 27-win team and dominated conference play with a 16-2 record. Buffalo has won nine straight conference battles, including four consecutive on the road.
They rank best in conference play in adjusted efficiency on both offense and defense. They also lead the MAC in turnovers forced per game and defensive rebounding percentage. Buffalo features four players who have attempted 100-plus 3-pointers.
The Bulls are very balanced, with senior CJ Massinburg (18.5 ppg, 42% 3P) serving as their leader and go-to scorer. Forward Nick Perkins (14.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg) has thrived in his reserve role, averaging 20.8 points over his past five games.
Buffalo’s path is incredibly favorable, as the only two teams (Northern Illinois, Bowling Green) to beat the Bulls are on the other side of the bracket and would potentially meet in the quarterfinals.
I don’t foresee this battle-tested veteran Buffalo team getting upset, but if you are looking for a potential deep future, there is only one place to go.