The Bulls anticipated they would be at least a five, and even as high as a four. But once the other matchup in UBs bracket was announced, a potential pairing for the Bulls suddenly became intriguing.
While some may think that sour grapes, note that we are not talking about actual officiating decisions, such as not calling a touch foul on a player at the end of a game. A Big East official called a ball out while the ball and player were well in the air. That non-turnover, in the last five seconds, led to a Seton Hall game-winning shot.
NCAA Tournament: UB and Syracuse placed in West Region
UB (31-3) will open the tournament against 11th-seeded Arizona State (22-10) or St. Johns (21-12) in a first-round game at approximately 4 p.m. Friday (TNT) in Tulsa, Okla. Arizona State and St. Johns will meet in a First Four game at 9:10 p.m. Wednesday (Tru TV) in Dayton, Ohio. Game time is 9:10 p.m.
The first-round matchup in the West region could pit the Bulls against former UB coach Bobby Hurley, who brought current UB coach Nate Oats to Buffalo as an assistant.
2019 NCAA Tournament: 5 things to know about the UB Bulls
Hurley left UB to become the coach at Arizona State in April of 2015, and Oats was promoted to UBs head coach less than a week after Hurleys departure.
Sun Devils earn NCAA Tournament bid for second straight year
Oats, however, wasnt keen on playing up the storyline of any relationships that continue between UB and Hurley.
The only one on this team that does know (Hurley) is Nick (Perkins), because I was the assistant and Coach Hurley recruited him, Oats said Sunday at Santoras in Williamsville, where UB learned of its NCAA Tournament destination at a watch party. The media and everybody can write all about that. I dont need our guys to think about any of that.
ASU Basketball: Sun Devils make NCAA Tournament for the second straight year
To be honest, it could be St. Johns. They just need to be prepping for who they play. The good thing is, they have to play and prepare for us. The bad thing is, what do we do in tomorrows practice? We cant practice for Arizona State or St. Johns, exclusively. Weve got to get ready for both.
Still, the Johnnies had many chances in a good, but even, Big East. And they did not rise to the occasion against team with multiple big man options who could score and rebound on the offensive end.
Perkins, however, had an immediate thought when he realized there was a possibility he could face the coach who recruited him to Buffalo from Milan, Mich.
It was like, Wow, how ironic, Perkins said. Obviously, Bobbys the guy who hired Oats and who built the program before he left, and hes a good guy. The city of the Buffalo, the media, everybody would love to see that. That would be a historic game.
Oats elaborated, however, when discussing the Sun Devils on-court product. Arizona State is playing in the First Four for the second consecutive year after losing to Syracuse last year.
While ASU spent most of the season near the tournament cut line, its strong finish helped push it into the field. The Sun Devils won six of their final eight games, including their first victory at Arizona’s McKale Center during Hurley’s tenure and a Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal defeat of UCLA, the first time the program advanced past that stage of the event since 2009.
I definitely know Arizona State a lot more than I know about St. Johns, Oats said. Theyve been a little inconsistent shooting the ball, but when theyre on, theyre not an 11 seed, but St. Johns is the same way, though.
After a 87-73 win against Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference tournament championship game Saturday in Cleveland, Oats and some of his players believed they would earn as high as either a four or a five seed.
When they called six, I was just really wondering who wed play next, UB guard Jayvon Graves said. We can beat anybody they put in front of us, and Im just confident in our team.
“The non-conference wins are important,” he argued. “We stuck our neck out and put it on the line to play (then No. 1) Kansas and Mississippi State and Utah State, teams that are having very successful seasons. And then we went in our league and won 12 games in a Power Conference and finished second.
When asked Saturday what seed he thought his team should receive, Oats said he thought the Bulls deserved a four seed, and that he would be disappointed with anything less than a five seed.
ASU will face St. Johns in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday, the same place the Sun Devils were eliminated last season against Syracuse. If the Sun Devils win, they will advance to play No. 6 seed Buffalo – ASU coach Bobby Hurleys old team – on Friday in Tulsa, Okla.
We had the best record in college basketball, Oats said Sunday. Were tied with Houston. Nobody has more wins than we do. A six is a little low. It is what it is. You look at the teams that are one through five, those are some pretty good teams.
What was Marquette? Are they a five? Marquette beat us pretty decent (103-85) and theyre a five. I was hoping for a five, thinking we wouldnt drop below a six. Yeah, right in there is where I thought wed be.
Duke athletic director Kevin White, a member of the NCAAs mens basketball selection committee, said Sunday on CBS that there was discussion among the committee as to whether UB should be seeded higher.
“I would say yes, to be very honest and pointed,” White said. “But I think we got it about right. Obviously, Im not objective. I have 10 colleagues with me, there are 10 of us on the committee, and we looked really hard. Its just not about your resume, its about the resumes with in your neighborhood, that are kind of in the beltway right around you. And I think we got Buffalo right in the place where they deserve to be.”
With the help of nonconference wins against Syracuse and San Francisco as well as several blowout wins in their MAC schedule, the Bulls have been among the top 50 teams in the NCAAs NET rankings since November, and finished the regular season and the MAC Tournament at No. 15. The NET is a sorting tool the NCAA tournament selection committee used to determine the 68-team field for the first time.
This is Buffalos fourth NCAA Tournament appearance, and the highest seed its earned in the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo was a 12 seed in 2015, a 14 seed in 2016 and a 13 seed in 2018, when it beat Arizona in the first round.
The highest seed a MAC team has earned in the 68-team field prior to this year is a 9 seed: Ball State was a 9 seed in 1989, Eastern Michigan in 1996 and Kent State in 2008.
Toledo was a 5 seed in a 40-team field in 1979, and Miami (Ohio) was an 8 seed in a 53-team field in 1984.
This site is currently unavailable to visitors from the European Economic Area while we work to ensure your data is protected in accordance with applicable EU laws.