University at Buffalo womens basketball to face South Florida in NCAA Tournament

The 2014 AGR Player of the Year for Gates Chili, Cierra Dillard is in her first season with the University of Buffalo and leads the Bulls in scoring.

Central Michigan (28-4) won the MAC regular season and the MAC Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio last week, thus securing its automatic bid early. But it was their MAC Championship opponent Buffalo (27-5) who had to sweat it out until Selection Monday to see if they would be added in to the Big Dance.

You can see Fernandez throw his hands up in the air before finally clapping after USF was announced as a 6-seed. I missed the first few awkward seconds after they were called because no one, absolutely no one thought the Bulls (26-7, 13-3 AAC) would be lower than a five seed.

Gates Chilis Cierra Dillard, a junior guard, leads Bulls in scoring at 15 points per game

Ultimately, the Bulls were the first of the Debatable 8 reveaed as an at-large, being placed in the Albany Region. They will play South Florida (26-7) in Tallahassee, Florida on Saturday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m. in a game to be televised on ESPN2. Should the Bulls win, theyll face the winner of the Florida State v. Little Rock game in the early session.

CMU wont have to travel as far for their first-round matchup, as theyre slated to take on the LSU Tigers (19-9) in a game also scheduled for Saturday, March 17. Theyll play in Columbus, Ohio, at 11 a.m. and be televised on ESPN2. CMU was placed in the Spokane Region. Should the Chippewas win, theyll face the winner of the Ohio State v. George Washington game in the late session.

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Interestingly, both Buffalo and Central Michigan were given 11-seeds in their regions. Its not often the MAC places two bids in the NCAAs, but with both squads facing a fierce out-of-conference schedule and dominating in conference play, it would be hard to keep out one if the other won the MAC title.

“In order for you to have success you cannot leave it in somebody elses hands and hope that success will come,” UB coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. “I thought in order for us to be reassured 100 percent (of an NCAA bid) that we would have to go out there and reclaim the MAC conference title and advance. When the opportunity didnt happen or us to do that, I thought we were in a precarious position again. I looked at all the results of what weve done. Ive said weve done the work.”

That said, on the strength of their respective schedules, being seeded as an 11 is dangerous for the higher seeds theyll be facing, as they easily have the resume to be slotted as an 8-or-9 seed.

1. They have a culture of success. The Bulls are 26-7 this season and have flourished under head coach Jose Fernandez. In his 18th season at USF, he was named the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year. This year marked the sixth-straight season the Bulls have won 20-plus games. Its their fourth straight NCAA tournament. And theyre ranked 19th in the country in the latest Associated Press poll. The Bulls won 24 regular season games, a program record, and are one shy of tying the programs overall record for wins in a season.

The 2018 NCAA Womens Basketball Tournament begins in full on Friday, March 16. The full bracket can be found here.

Well get more into the logistics of the matchup later, but this is definitely a winnable game for the Bulls. UB has the potential to do damage against USFs leading scorer, who scores nearly 21 points per game. Itll be a tough defensive matchup at guard that hopefully Stephanie Reid will be back for.

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