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The Morning After: Buffalo, Ball State and IUPUI all win on the road

Friday night was kind to the road teams.

NCAA Basketball: Ball State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It was a quiet Friday night on the college basketball schedule with just seven games on the docket, four of which included games against non D-I opponents. Nonetheless, the teams that played picked up wins that can help them down the road.

Buffalo is still the heavy favorite in the MAC

Coming into the game last night, the Bulls sat at No. 20 in the AP Poll, but didn’t necessarily look the part. Eastern Michigan jumped out to an early 15-11 lead by slowing the game down and mucking it up. That wound up being as close as it would get, as Buffalo closed the first half with a 10 point lead and subsequently built upon that out of halftime to all but put the game away. It wasn’t Buffalo’s best offensive performance, though. The frustrating 2-3 zone of Eastern Michigan forced the Bulls into just 7-24 shooting from three-point range, and they also went a measly 13-22 from the line. But last night was another testament to just how good Buffalo is. Even on a night when its “A” game isn’t there, it can still dispatch a team with ease.

Ball State torched Toledo in a key MAC West game

Perhaps the Cardinals were tired of saying Toledo was the bets team in the MAC. Behind 20-point efforts from Tayler Persons and Tahjai Teague, Ball State dominated a red hot Toledo team that had come into the game having won 10 straight games. It was the Cardinals defense that shone the brightest on Friday, holding the Rockets to just 64 points on 0.86 points per possession.

I’ll take some of the blame for Toledo’s poor offensive showing. It’s fitting that the day after I wrote about how they’ve been so good from three-point range this year, they go out and shoot a putrid 8-30 from distance. Ho hum.

It won’t get any easier for the Rockets moving forward as a matchup with Buffalo aways. Ball State returns home for games against Eastern Michigan and Ohio with a chance to separate themselves in the MAC West.

IUPUI holds on late to win at UIC

IUPUI got stuck with perhaps the toughest schedule to start Horizon League play. The Jaguars opened with consecutive road games against Northern Kentucky, Wright State and UIC, all teams that were considered to be at the top of the league. After dropping the first two games, IUPUI got a career-high 30 points from Camron Justice to hold off a late rally from UIC. The entire game was a bit of a grind, and featured multiple lead changes late in the second half.

IUPUI - UIC win probability graph
KenPom.com

After five consecutive road games dating back to the middle of December, IUPUI will finally get a chance to play at home next week.