BUFFALO, NY – It was another historic day for the UB Bulls athletic program with both their men’s and women’s basketball programs advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Many bemoaned when the two teams were scheduled to play simultaneously but it resulted in a remarkable afternoon for Buffalo sports fans.
The hype heading in was all about Nate Oats coaching against his former boss, Bobby Hurley.
But I’ll spare you that nonsense.
Buffalo jumped out to a strong start against Arizona State, taking a 13-point lead into the half.
The Bulls controlled the pace and the boards, shooting 51.7% from the field while out-rebounding the Sun Devils 42-26.
Jeremy Harris and Nick Perkins were both tremendous, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds apiece.
CJ Massinburg also had a strong afternoon, posting 18 points and six rebounds.
Buffalo increased their lead to 20+ points midway through the second half, cruising to their second NCAA Tournament win in program history, 91-74 over Arizona State.
It wasn’t as easy for Cierra Dillard and the women’s team.
They were locked in a battle with seven seed Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights took a 43-41 lead into the half before increasing their advantage to nine early in the third quarter.
But that’s when Summer Hemphill went off!
The junior forward had another incredible performance, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds and two assists, lifting UB back into the game.
The Bulls entered the final quarter down two but were primed to take over.
Buffalo outscored Rutgers 23-10 during the final 10 minutes, pulling away late for their third NCAA Tournament victory in the past two years.
Awaiting them is a matchup against two seed Connecticut. (Most likely)
It sounds weird even referring to the Huskies as anything other than a one seed. That said, UConn is a very talented team that is the gold standard of women’s basketball.
Buffalo will go into their game on Sunday as heavy underdogs, looking to shock the nation. They’ve already made history, becoming the first MAC women’s program to win back-to-back years in the NCAA Tournament.
They’re hoping to add to that, becoming the first school in the conference history to advance to the Sweet 16 in consecutive years.
While the UB women have a daunting challenge facing UConn, the men also have a difficult task taking on one of the top defensive teams in the country in Texas Tech.
It’s a game that could go either way.
The Red Raiders display the ability to matchup with the best offensive squads in the country but will be challenged by a Buffalo team possessing a handful of primary scoring options.
UB will be looking to increase the tempo while Texas Tech will most likely look to slow things down.
Right now, I see the matchup as a toss-up with the Bulls hoping to advance to their first Sweet 16 in program history.
There was a lot of hype surrounding UB basketball, both the men’s and women’s programs entering the season they’ve both risen to the occasion.
It’s been a historic year for Buffalo hoops.
Let’s hope it continues for another week.