No. 6 South Florida vs. No. 11 University at Buffalo
Tipoff: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Tucker Center, Tallahassee, Fla., ESPN2
It's the second trip to the NCAA Tournament for the University at Buffalo as the women earned their first at-large bid. The seniors went to the NCAA Tournament as the Mid-American Conference's automatic bid in 2016. Bulls are looking to become just the second Big 4 women's program to win a game in the NCAA tournament, joining St. Bonaventure, which has three wins in its program history.
UB earned an at-large bid after losing to Central Michigan, 96-91, in the Mid-American Conference title game. At 27-5 the Bulls have set a program record for wins in a season. Of those 27 wins, 19 have been by double digits. Bulls like to run. A lot. And when they run they're successful. UB has outscored opponents 370-109 in fast break points. Leading UB's potent offense is junior Cierra Dillard, who averaged 19.7 points during the team's three games in the MAC Tournament. Dillard may lead the Bulls in scoring but four starters are averaging double digits, including senior point guard Stephanie Reid. Reid does it all and is one of just three active players in the NCAA to have at least 1,100 points, 600 assists, 300 rebounds, and 200 steals. Expect the Bulls to continue to stay true to what has made them successful – pushing the pace, scoring in transition, and playing hard, gritty defense.
The Bulls (yep, that's South Florida's nickname as well) are making their fifth tournament appearance in the last six seasons and fourth straight trip to the NCAAs. At 26-7 overall, they lost to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference championship and are ranked 19th in the Top 25 poll. It's the second-straight year USF is playing its first-round game in Tallahassee and they have some unfinished business here. After leading by double-digits at halftime a year ago, they lost to Missouri. South Florida is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country, hitting 35 percent to rank 65th in the country.
In the Bulls vs. the Bulls, UB has the 10th best three-point defense in the country while South Florida has some talented outside shooters. Should be a high-scoring affair and while UB is the underdog, it certainly has a chance.
South Florida 82, UB 75