The #4 Arizona Wildcats (27-7) will be facing off against the #13 Buffalo Bulls (26-8) in Boise, Idaho on Thursday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Now, it may seem like the Wildcats are destined to win this game. However, a #13 seed has upset a #4 at least once in 12 of the last 17 years. So, does Buffalo have a chance? Absolutely.
The Buffalo offense has been stellar all year long. The team is averaging 84.8 points per game, which is seventh best in the country. However, they only scored 76 points in their conference championship win over Toledo. The offensive firepower has come from Buffalo’s three-headed monster.
For the second consecutive season, Buffalo’s @nick_p34 has been named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year! #UBhornsUp #MACtion pic.twitter.com/oAgtKfBVyt— #MACtion (@MACSports) March 6, 2018
This trio is headlined by junior guard CJ Massinburg. The 6-3 guard averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season. The Sixth Man of the Year in the MAC, Nick Perkins is also a valuable asset to this team. The 250 pound forward averaged 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, while dropping 16 points and five rebounds in Buffalo’s MAC Championship win. Last but not least, is JUCO transfer Jeremy Harris from Greensboro, North Carolina. Harris averaged 15.4 points per game while shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. These three will have to put a great game together to top a tough Arizona squad.
The Arizona Wildcats had quite the target on their back after the allegations that head coach Sean Miller received about paying star player Deandre Ayton, but that did not stop them from winning their second consecutive Pac-12 Championship. The Wildcats ran through the tournament as they defeated Colorado, UCLA, and USC with ease.
The projected first-overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft was unstoppable in the conference tournament. Deandre Ayton averaged 24.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in the Pac-12 Tournament. Very unlikely that this athletic specimen will be stopped in this game, at 7-1, 250 pounds he has an advantage on almost all of Buffalo’s big men.
Ayton’s sidekick all year has been junior guard, Allonzo Trier out of Seattle, Washington. Trier was crucial in Arizona’s run in last year’s tournament as he averaged 17 points and 7 rebounds per game. Trier is a big guard that can get to the hoop quickly. The veteran guard makes his attempts count at the charity stripe as he is shooting 86 percent from the line.
Both teams possess potent offenses with a sub-par defense. Both solid rebounding teams that score points by the truckload.
Haven't seen Buffalo play this season, but statistically they seem similar to ASU, which makes sense. UA went 2-0 vs. the Devils but both games came down to the wire. Thinking Arizona wins by single digits.— Shane Dale (@ShaneDaleABC15) March 13, 2018
Buffalo has not fared well against AP Top 25 teams this year. The Bulls fell to Texas A&M and Cincinnati earlier in the year and even lost to South Dakota State who is a 12th seed in this year’s tournament. The Bulls will have to hunker down and play one of their best games yet to beat Ayton and the Wildcats on Thursday.
Time: March 15th, 9:40PM
Location: Taco Bell Arena, Boise, ID
Odds: Arizona -8.5