CLEVELAND – Thanks to a 87-73 win vs Bowling Green in the MAC Conference men’s final, the Buffalo Bulls earned a sixth seed in the 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament.
The Bulls, 31-3, earned the conference’s highest seed since 1979–when the Toledo Rockets earned a No.5 seed, and also the highest for the MAC since the NCAA expanded to 64 and 68 teams–in front of a raucous pro-Buffalo crowd of over 7,800 down at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland that could have easily been mistaken for a home game at Alumni Arena.
Seeded in the same region as the West Coast Conference tournament runner-up Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-3) as a No.1 seed, Big Ten tournament runner-up Michigan Wolverines (28-6) as the second seed, Texas Tech Red Raiders (26-6) out of the Big 12 as a three seed, the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament runner-up Florida State Seminoles (27-7) and the Marquette Golden Eagles (24-9) out of the Big East, the Bulls have their work cut out for themselves.
Perhaps one of the most balanced and top-heavy brackets, the Bulls will also have to contend with either their former head coach in Bobby Hurley and his Arizona State Sun Devils or St. Johns winner of the play-in game down in Dayton.
If Buffalo hopes to advance to at least the Sweet Sixteen, they will have to face perhaps one of the other under-the-radar sleepers in the country in the Jordan Caroline-led Nevada Wolfpack, a seventh seed that draws tenth-seeded Florida out of the SEC, while the forementioned Wolverines draw No.15 Montana.
The other side of the West region has the Ja Morant-led Murray State Racers (27-4) out of the Ohio Valley Conference, and Jim Boeheim’s storied Syracuse Orange zone defense.
A team that plays with pace and can dictate tempo, Buffalo is a team—that I mentioned here—that is capable of making a deep tournament thanks to a collection of battle-tested upperclassman such as MAC tournament MVP Jeremy Harris—who also led all scorers with 31 points, CJ Massinburg, Jayvon Graves, and Davonta Jordan, as well as having the experience of upsetting No.4 Arizona as a No.13 seed 89-68 last spring.
Sleep on the Bulls at your own risk, but be forewarned that the champions from the MAC are coming and ready for bring some MACtion to March Madness.