The Buffalo Bulls are ranked 14th in the latest AP poll. And the coach’s poll. They rose a few spots in each poll, and my initial reaction was that is good news. But then I gave it further thought, and got a little angry. I am old school. I might have looked at the RPI rankings, saw Buffalo was 14 and moved on. However, we are on the dawn of a new age, and the NCAA tournament now looks at “Net Rankings”, whatever that means, and Buffalo is 10th. Again, I am old school and I don’t know what all that means, I just follow the eye test after watching basketball for 4 decades.
This Buffalo squad is loaded, returned a boatload of talent from a team that knocked off Arizona in last season’s NCAA tournament, and retained their coach. This season, they are taking the same quality of shots that made last year’s run possible, plus playing great defense. Baring a complete collapse, this team is in the NCAA tournament this season, regardless of MAC tournament results. I should be happy with that, but I am not.
Writing about Central Michigan on the women’s side, I was reminded of just how important the hot and cold nature of shooting is in this game. Ball does lie. Good teams get beat by bad teams. In a game of two even teams, a hot shooting team can run the other off the court, only to be run off the court the next time. So how does this affect my opinion of Buffalo’s rankings?
They have been on an amazing run since last year’s MAC tournament, because they are a great team. This season, they have one loss, to a ranked team. It was a double digit loss, on the opponents home floor, so I could see why a voter would have reservations about this Buffalo squad.
Markus Howard scored 40 points, in the second half. He is a great players that is averaging 24 per. He just dropped 53 against Creighton a few weeks ago. His 45 against Buffalo tied his second best performance. Basketball is a game of streaks, and a great player went on one of his hottest streaks to be the only “team” to knock off the Bulls this year.
It just seems like Buffalo is being punished for losing one game this year, against a good team, with a great player, that played great. Sometimes, ball does lie. That’s what makes the NCAA tournament so great. A hot shooting team can knock off the better team. One guy having a bad game and turning the ball over can wreck an entire season. Bottom line, Buffalo is a great team, like Marquette. The results of one game should not be the biggest factor in the Bull’s season. I don’t think there are 13 teams that NCAA coaches would rather play than Buffalo. They are loaded with talent and deep, and they play great defense. I just wish there was a poll where the actual coaches voted, after watching film of all the teams. Sadly there isn’t. If there were, I am guessing the Bulls would be around 10.