The University at Buffalo won’t have far to go when it starts dancing in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, relatively speaking.
The Bulls drew a 14th seed in the South region. UB (20-14) will play No. 3 seed Miami on Thursday in a game played in Providence, R.I. – a mere 451 miles away by car. The game will be played at 6:50 p.m. and shown on TNT.
Buffalo caught a bit of a break, as the two closest sites to Buffalo were Providence and New York City. Other locations included Spokane, Wash., Denver and Oklahoma City.
“If we play 40 minutes of defense, like we’ve been doing, I think we can play with anyone,” UB coach Nate Oats said. “We’re hot at the right time, which is helpful, and we’re healthy.
“We’ve got to play 40 minutes against them. You can’t have a five-minute stretch where you don’t play hard. If you take out the first 10 minutes last year against West Virginia, we were even. We can’t have a bad 10 minutes to start the game.”
Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure was left out of the tournament by the selection committee, in spite of the team’s 22-8 record. Bona was 14-4 and co-champion of the Atlantic 10 in the regular season. The Bonnies lost to Davidson in the conference tournament.
“We’re disappointed, extremely disappointed,” Bona coach Mark Schmidt said. “I thought we had the resume to get into the tournament. It’s shocking. I feel bad for our players.”
Later on Sunday, St. Bonaventure was named a No. 1 seed for the National Invitation Tournament. The Bonnies will host Wagner at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night.
Miami finished the Atlantic Coast Conference season with a 25-7 record, 13-5 in ACC play. The Hurricanes are is 11th in the latest national rankings.
The Bulls qualified for the tournament by defeating Akron, 64-61, in the championship game Saturday night. Blake Hamilton’s three-pointer with two seconds to go was the difference.
UB became the first MAC team in 14 years to repeat as the conference champion. Last year, the Bulls won the MAC Championship and played West Virginia in Cleveland, Ohio. UB dropped a 68-62 decision to the Mountaineers in the tournament.
“We’ve got good players and we’re going to give Miami a run,” Hamilton said.
“The last 24 hours have been crazy for us,” Oats added. “We haven’t gotten a whole lot of sleep. Nobody expected us to get here, but we have tried to enjoy this. Now we have to get back to work.”
Syracuse was a somewhat surprising selection by the NCAA committee. The Orange were given a 10th seed, and will play Dayton in St. Louis on Friday.
Buffalo’s women’s team will find out Monday where it will be headed for its first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament. The announcement will be at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
UB took the MAC title on Saturday afternoon by beating Central Michigan, 73-71. Stephanie Reid banked home a shot at the buzzer to give the Bulls the MAC title. UB was the eighth seed in the tournament; it was the lowest seed to ever win the conference tournament.
This is the first time since 2012 that one of the Big Four schools have sent two teams to the NCAA Championships. The St. Bonaventure men and women both qualified that year.