On Friday, March 20, the (12) Buffalo Bulls (23-9, 12-6) and #20 (5) West Virginia Mountaineers will meet up in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo won the MAC Tournament over Central Michigan on Saturday, while WVU entered the Big 12 Tournament as a 5-seed, falling to Baylor in their first game.
Game time, info:
Tipoff is scheduled to be at 2:10 p.m. EST at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. These two are in the Midwest region of the NCAA bracket where the Kentucky Wildcats are expected to just steamroll anybody that stands in their way. The winner of this game will go on to face the winner of the (4) Maryland Terrapins vs. (13) Valparaiso Crusaders, which is scheduled to start at 4:40 p.m. in the same arena.
The last time WVU played a team from the MAC was November 28, 2011 where they beat the Akron Zips 77-56. They lost to the Kent State Golden Flashes by 10 just 13 days before that.
3 Mountaineers to watch out for:
For the second year in a row, senior guard Juwan Staten has earned First Team All-Big 12 accolades. For the season, Staten is usually on the floor for 31 minutes per game, and shoots well. He leads the Mountaineers in scoring with 14.5 points per game (fifth in the Big 12), 392 total points on the season at a .423 shooting percentage. He was expected to be the Big 12 Player of the Year before the season started, so if his knees can hold up, it'll be a long day with him on the floor.
Devin Williams is second on WVU in scoring with 11.3 points per game, only an honorable mention in the final All-Big 12 awards. The sophomore forward stands at 6-foot-9, weighs 255 pounds: a little bit bigger than Justin Moss. They've also got Brandon Watkins and Elijah Macon that stand at 6-foot-9, so that'll be fun.
Buffalo leads the MAC in scoring, and even though Moss was the MAC's leading scorer, strong guard play is vital to Buffalo's success. Both Staten and Gary Browne have missed the last four games for WVU, but are expected to play in this contest.
Bobby Hurley. You probably really hate him. Or you might really love him. It's one or the other, no middle ground to be met here. He was not one of the top 3 names at the year-end media poll for the MAC Coach of the Year, but he's coached the MAC Player of the Year both of his years at the helm of Buffalo and they are dancing for the first time in school history. Also, the 90s.
Big 12 Coach of the Year Bob Huggins has coached Staten to be a First Team player in the conference for two years in a row, has created a team that's nicknamed "Press Virginia" in homage to their full-court press. Here's an analogy: WVU is to the full-court press as Eastern Michigan is to the 2-3 zone. That make sense?
A lot of us will be watching this from a bar, at work or at home. If there's a TV available for you, then just tune into TNT for the 2:10 p.m. tipoff. To stream the game online, here's the link to the NCAA March Madness Live page where you can catch all of the tournament's games. They've got an app for smart phones and tablets, so that's convenient.
For our local Bulls fans, click here for the Buffalo-centric broadcast. Are you living in WVU country? Then try one of these radio stations instead.
Vegas has the line set at -4.5 in WVU's favor. Don't kill the messenger.