‘Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills’…Wait, sorry, my editor is telling me this is a different Buffalo team, you said the Bulls? Fair enough, well all I have is Jim Kelly stats and memes on the four straight super bowl losses, hold on let me get my other material.
Alright, so the Buffalo Bulls will take on the Arizona Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Boise, ID. The Bulls are the 13 seed which makes the Wildcats the 4 seed and both coming in after great seasons which ended in winning their respective conference tournaments.
Buffalo went 27-8 (15-3 MAC) playing in the Mid-American Conference. Of those 8 loses 5 of them came to teams in the tournament including a six point loss to 2 seeded Cincinnati. A 13 seed is a bit of snub for this team, I had predicted them a 12 seed. You may think, what is the big difference? 12 seeds advance 35% of the time compared to only 19% of the time for 13 seeds.
Then on the other side we have the PAC-12 champion, Arizona Wildcats (27-7, 14-4 PAC-12) who you could argue probably also got snubbed as a 4 seed. I could have seen Arizona as a 3 and even possibly a 2 seed, might be a stretch but they are good enough on paper. For the Bulls this is one of the better 4 seeds this year.
Buffalo is led by Jeremy Harris, Nick Perkins and CJ Massinburg who are all Juniors and average 27-33 minutes per game to go with 15-16 points per game. Out of the three Harris is the player that most teams have found hard to guard. At 6’7 and the ability to drive and rise over many he has seen success in the MAC.
Arizona comes in with a lot of uncertainty in their future after allegations of NCAA violations against coach Sean Miller came out in early March. That being said, Miller and his full team will be ready to play come Thursday. Arizona has been known for getting great one and done players for the past couple years and that is the case this year in Deandre Ayton. Averaging 20.3 points per game as a Freshman and being 7-1 with moves of that of a power forward, leads to a lock for a lottery pick in 2018 NBA draft.
The Wildcats will also look to Junior Allonzo Trier and 7 foot Senior Dusan Ristic from Serbia to give them the firepower to make a run in the tournament. Both are averaging double digit points per game and close to 30 mpg also.
How Buffalo Upsets Arizona?
Mostly when talking about upsets, the goal is to slow the game down and making the opposing team play your style. Well in this case I think Buffalo needs to give the game high paced with fast breaks and not much half court game play. Buffalo is 7th in points per game in the nation but also 268th in points allowed. So they have thrived on outscoring their opponents. Combine that with the fact Arizona has two very good players over 7-0 that Buffalo will have no answer for, this game will need to be played in the open court because points in the paint will be hard to come by for the Bulls.
As much of a sucker I am for wanting to pick a MAC school and the upset, I can’t see many scenarios where they are able to hang with Arizona for 40 minutes. The spread is Arizona -8 and the total over 157.5.
Arizona – 8
Time: 9:40 PM ET (Thursday)
Location: Boise, ID
Arena: Taco Bell Arena