Who? Where? When?
The University at Buffalo women’s basketball team won’t learn their opponent, venue or game time until the the NCAA Selection Show on ESPN at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Headed for their third NCAA tournament, second as the Mid-American Conference champion, coach Felisha Legette-Jack’s team had an eventful three days in the conference tournament in Cleveland to reflect on Sunday.
First UB routed Kent State in the quarterfinals. The Golden Flashes had handed UB a loss in the final regular season game.
Then it was an upset of defending conference champion Central Michigan, a team that twice defeated the Bulls in the regular season and in the 2018 MAC Tournament championship game.
Finally, they defeated Ohio University in the championship game. The Bobcats had defeated UB, 74-71, in overtime in the conference opener on Jan. 5 but UB retaliated with a 73-43 romp in Athens, Ohio on Feb. 16.
"These young ladies kept believing and kept fighting," Legette-Jack said. "This is a culmination of a lot of things that went right and went wrong. With us staying together and us trying to figure it out. I’m so, so proud of these young woman."
Two weeks ago, the NCAA Committee announced the prospective top 16 seeds for the tournament based on the records at that time.
UB was not in the top 16 and was not expected to be.
Last season, the Bulls were an 11th seed in the Albany Region when they met No. 6 South Florida in Tallahassee in the first round. UB defeated USF then defeated No. 3 Florida State to reach the regional semifinals at Times Union Center in Albany. There the Bulls lost to No. 2 South Carolina, which lost to No. 1 Connecticut.
Charlie Creme of Bracketology projects UB as a No. 10 seed this time, facing a No. 7 DePaul of the Big East Conference in Louisville one of the four first-round sites for the Albany Regional this year. Other regionals are Chicago, Portland, Ore., and Greensboro, N.C.
Creme projected Central Michigan as an eight seed, and Ohio as an 11 seed, receiving at-large bids to the NCAAs.
In Saturday’s victory over Ohio, the Bulls made a season-high 13 three-pointers. But they had inside game, too.
Junior forward Summer Hemphill (Cardinal O’Hara) scored 16 points and pulled down a MAC Tournament-record 21 rebounds. Buffalo outrebounded Ohio, 46-29, including 16 on the offensive end.
Senior star Cierra Dillard, the No. 2 scorer in the nation, was MAC Tournament MVP. She had 22 points, including four three-pointers. Hanna Hall had 17 points, including a career-best five triples. Courtney Wilkins scored 12 points on four three-pointers.