We picked up a nice win yesterday when we backed the Buffalo Bulls as small road favorites in Southern Illinois, against the Salukis. The Bulls have been an early ace up my sleeve this season, but after they upset thirteenth ranked West Virginia on the road in their second game of the year, they were thrust into the top twenty-five and had the nation buzzing. The hype pushed this number towards them a bit and had them as road favorites against a game Salukis team, but in my estimation, the Bulls were just on another level, and I laid the points, and backed the road team.
The Bulls led throughout, and although Southern Illinois put up a good fight late, they just couldn’t hang with the superior team. Buffalo did a great job crashing the offensive boards as they had seventeen offensive rebounds that led to a lot of second-chance points. The Bulls didn’t have their best offensive game as they shot just 35% from the field, and they still managed to win by nine points. Had they shot like they did in their last game when they dropped 99 points on West Virginia, they could have won this game by twenty.
In the end, it was a nice early season win for Buffalo, and I expect big things from both of these teams. I think the Bulls are going to hang around the top twenty-five all season long and Southern Illinois should compete for the Missouri Valley league title this year despite their slow start. Today we break down the game between “Stone Cold” Stephen F Austin and the Hurricanes of Miami.
The Miami Hurricanes welcome the Lumberjacks of Stephen F Austin to their house in a non-conference matchup between two programs that have grown accustomed to making the NCAA tournament each season. The Hurricanes have made the tournament three straight years, and the Lumberjacks have gone dancing in four out of the last five seasons.
Miami is 1-0 on the season as they beat up on an overmatched Lehigh team in their first game of the year. The Lumberjacks went 2-0 in their first week of action, although they have underwhelmed some as they barely snuck passed SW Assemblies of God in their last game. The Hurricanes are -14.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 143.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM PST from the Watso Center in Coral Gables, Florida.
Don’t let this mediocre start from the Lumberjacks fool you, this is a solid team. SFA returns the core of last year’s team that made the NCAA tournament and was a tough out against a very good Texas Tech team in the first round. This team is the class of the Southland again this season, and you may as well just pencil them in now as league champs and another auto-bid to the Big Dance.
The Lumberjacks pride themselves on defense as they led the nation in steals per game and turnovers forced last season. They start three seniors and two juniors this year as well as having role players coming off the bench with lots of experience. They have three juniors and one more senior in smaller roles. This team is loaded with upperclassmen that are all used to playing big-time postseason basketball, and they aren’t at all going to be intimidated in the slightest heading into Miami.
The Hurricanes have been a solid program as of late as well, although this year looks to be a rebuilding year for head coach Jim Larranaga. The Hurricanes lost a lot of their production from last year’s team as Lonnie Walker, Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown are all gone. The do return Chris Lykes this year, who should be the man bringing the ball up for Miami. Lykes led the Hurricanes in scoring in their win over Lehigh with twenty-two points.
It goes to show you just how stacked the ACC is this season that many are expecting the Hurricanes to finish in the bottom half of the league this season. And yet they could still very well make the NCAA tournament. This team is going to rely on a lot of new faces and Larranaga has done a decent job of bringing in a couple of impact transfers and has recruited back to back strong recruiting classes. Will the Hurricanes be able to make it four straight trips to the tournament? Or will this year be a true rebuilding year at the U?
I know that Stephen F Austin has looked like crap so far this season. But it is hard to get up to play a team like SW Assemblies of God, yes that is a real team. But going on the road into a what should be a rowdy environment to play Miami? This Lumberjacks team should have no problem bringing their best game. And yes, their offense has looked suspect, but their elite defense never takes a day off, and Miami is going to struggle to score the ball tonight.
I think the Hurricanes will likely win this game outright, but I expect a tightly contested game. It wouldn’t shock me to see this game come down to the last couple of possessions and the Hurricanes had better be on upset alert if they don’t want to get shocked on their home court. Give me the Stephen F Austin Lumberjacks and a bunch of points tonight from Miami!