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UB Bulls to bask in national TV's glow for next 24 hours

University at Buffalo coach Nate Oats was on ESPN's late edition of SportsCenter early this morning after his basketball team pulled the early upset of the NCAA men's basketball tournament over Arizona.

"I've arrived, I am on 'The Scott Van Pelt Show,'" said UB's quotable coach.

"You arrived because you beat Arizona," responded Van Pelt.

They were both right.

UB will be the toast of the college basketball world on television for at least the next 24 hours after its 89-68 destruction of Arizona.

"The shocker of the night," proclaimed CBS play-by-play man Brian Anderson near the end of the game.

Anderson was excellent, throwing out several lines that had to play well in Western New York.

Here are some of his best from Anderson, who simultaneously does play-by-play and analysis:

"This hasn’t even felt like an upset because UB was aggressive from the beginning.”

“This is a performance in Boise. They have the 4th seed on the ropes.”

“It is a Buffalo story in Boise, Idaho.”

“Oh my goodness,” (after a drive by UB's Wes Clark drive that led to a basket.)

It was an “oh my goodness” game.

The victory by the 13th-seeded Bulls over the fourth-seeded Arizona qualified as the biggest upset since the 2016 tournament.

And just think, only four nights earlier people were lamenting that UB got a raw deal by being seeded 13th and having to play a team that many thought could win the national title.

The seeding turned out to be a good thing. With the upset, they put the program in a good recruiting situation for years, with the free advertising provided by Van Pelt only one example.

My most popular tweet during the game Thursday night put it a different way: "This is better advertising for UB to get players than if you offered them $100,000 on a FBI wire."

Of course, I was referring to the allegations against Arizona -- vehemently denied by Arizona coach Sean Miller, who has said he will be vindicated. Anderson alluded to all the things swirling around Arizona without mentioning exactly what he was actually taking about.

The only Anderson mistake I caught was late in the game when he made a math mistake and said UB was up 29 points, instead of 19. But maybe it was just a prediction. UB almost got there.

I covered college basketball for years before becoming a TV critic. I never saw a local team play a tournament game as well as the Bulls played Thursday night.

The players proved Oats' surprising assertion in a halftime interview: "We think we are the better team."

UB changed my TV game plan Thursday night of switching between the UB game and St. Bonaventure's game with Florida.

UB was playing so well its game was impossible to switch from its game unless it was halftime or a timeout. The only other times I thought of switching channels was when CBS gave us an annoying high-camera angle that made it difficult to see if shots were going to fall. In UB's case, they usually did.

WNY pretty much stuck with the Bulls as well. The game had an 11.7 rating from 10 p.m. to midnight on WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate. It dropped to an 8.1 rating at halftime, when viewers likely headed to the Bona game. It hit a peak of 14.2 at 11:15 p.m.

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The Bonnies game on truTV had a 4.3 rating from 10 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., peaking near the start with a 5.5 rating at 10: 15 p.m. It hit a low of 2.8 at 11:15 p.m. before rising when the UB game ended. Of course, the game on truTV -- a cable network -- was expected to get a lower rating than a game on CBS.

I watched enough of St. Bonaventure's 77-62 loss to appreciate the work of play-by-play man Spero Dedes. I've been critical of him when he does Buffalo Bills games, especially when Solomon Wilcots was his analyst. But Dedes does excellent work on college basketball and certainly did his homework on St. Bonaventure.

Since St. Bonaventure was playing as poorly as UB was playing well, it also was easier to ignore that game for long stretches.

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The Bulls made it easy to stay up for Van Pelt's show, which featured ESPN college basketball expert Jay Bilas.

Like Anderson during the game. Van Pelt noted that it wasn't a typical upset by a 13th seed hoping to survive over a fourth seed.

"They weren't hoping to sneak in a punch, they were throwing the punches," said Van Pelt.

Bilas wasn't exactly effusive in his praise of the Bulls, noting that Arizona didn't play well defensively or offensively.

He added the big test for a 13th-seed like UB that pulls off an upset is whether "you follow it up and do it again" and added that the Bulls' next opponent, Kentucky, at 5:15 p.m. Saturday on Channel 4, "is a far better defensive team than Arizona."

"Kentucky knows they are good," added Bilas.

Now, so does the rest of America.


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