No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 11 University at Buffalo
Tipoff: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Tucker Civic Center, Tallahassee, Fla., ESPN2
Can Buffalo do it again? The Bulls are coming off their first NCAA Tournament win in program history and they nabbed that win with style, a 102-79 victory over South Florida. That also made them the second program in Big 4 women's basketball history to win in the tournament, joining St. Bonaventure which is 3-2 all-time in the NCAAs. Monday's second-round game will be a different animal, facing host Florida State, ranked 11th in the country. The Seminoles rolled in their first-round game, 91-49, over Little Rock.
Shaking off a slow start, the Bulls dominated the second quarter in their win over South Florida. Junior Cierra Dillard had a career-high 36 points, including going 7 of 13 from 3-point range, while junior Courtney Wilkins had a career-best 23 points off the bench, including a career-high five 3-pointers. Senior point guard Stephanie Reid had 19 points and eight assists, helping to spread the South Florida defense which didn't know which way to guard. The 3-point line was deadly for the Bulls, who hit 51.9 percent (14 of 27) from beyond the arc allowing them to eclipse the 80-point mark for the 17th time this season. Buffalo's 28-5 record gives them the best mark in program history. While the offense was fun, it came from their defense. Once the Bulls settled into the game, trailing by 11 points early in the second quarter, they locked into their defensive scheme. That effort produced 25 points off turnovers.
The Seminoles also had a shaky start in their first-round game after a prolonged layoff. They last played on March 3, losing in the ACC semifinals to Notre Dame. The rust showed in the first quarter against Little Rock, but Florida State quickly found its groove. Out of halftime they promptly went on a 23-0 run to secure the blowout for their 15th straight NCAA Tournament first-round win. Shakayla Thomas led the Seminoles with 26 points, though she only went 4 of 11 from the free throw line. Thomas is a finalist for the Cheryl Miller Award given to the nation's best small forward. Florida State also likes to score in transition, getting 22 points off turnovers while pouring in 50 points in the paint. They held a 42-20 rebounding advantage over Little Rock with Chatrice White pulling in 10 boards to go along with 13 points. Ranked 11th in the country, Florida State has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen three straight years and has made the Elite Eight in two of the last three years.
Outlook: On paper, this has the makings of a high-scoring game. Both teams can score in transition. Buffalo shooters are feeling good after 53.2 percent from the field, but they will need to keep that up, particularly from outside. Florida State has experience, size, and a frenzied fan base for a home court advantage.
Prediction: Florida State 88, Buffalo 78