2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket - Midwest Region - Columbus, OH
Game Day Vitals
- #5 West Virginia Mountaineers (23-9, Big XII 11-7, NCAA RPI 24) vs. #12 Buffalo Bulls (23-9, MAC 12-6, NCAA RPI 28)
- Series Record: 1-1, last matchup was in 1991 where WVU won 91-46 in the Coliseum. First was in 1918 in Buffalo where the Bulls won 41-23.
- Location: Nationwide Arena (Capacity: 19,500 for basketball) Columbus, OH (CBJ CBJ CBJ)
- Vegas Lines: (-4.5) for the good guys, O/U: 150.0
- Date: Friday, March 19, 2015, 2:10 PM ET
- Television: TNT / NCAA Stream
- Radio Affiliates
- #12 Buffalo Bulls (23-9, MAC 12-6, NCAA RPI 28)
Head Coach - Bobby Hurley, 2nd year as UB head coach, 42–19 career (.689)
- Last Result - Win over Central Michigan in MAC Championship W 89-84
- Official Buffalo Bulls athletics website
- SBN Buffalo blog - Bull Run
Considering WVU will be playing in Nationwide Arena, the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ, CBJ, CBJ), when I have to introduce you to the Blue Jacket super fan, Dancing Kevin.
The man is grinding shirtless on the Labatt Blue Bear after going Stone Cold Steve Austin on two brews. Dancing Kevin is my spirit animal. If Dancing Kevin isn't, then Mark Miller absolutely claims the title. I don't care if this already has too many Bills references. Darryl Talley is the man.
Thus, my reaction after seeing the bracket reveal:
IT'S BUFFALO— David Smith (@SmithFire13) March 15, 2015
@JuwanStaten3 says he's practiced 3 days with no limitations. Says he's ready to go.— TonyCaridi (@TonyCaridi) March 19, 2015
Juwan Staten is just fine. pic.twitter.com/YYetkWxRG1— TonyCaridi (@TonyCaridi) March 19, 2015
This has been quite a frustrating week for WVU fans as several national media members (including some notable politicians) continue to pick Buffalo over West Virginia. A lot of those upset picks were made without the knowledge of Juwan Staten practicing full speed all this week. Having the senior point guard available is massive for the Mountaineers, but by no means does that take away from the Bulls whatsoever. They are legit and, an even more threatening fact, they are hot.
The Buffalo Bulls, coached by Bobby Hurley, split the regular season MAC title and won the conference championship after finishing the season on an eight game winning streak. Justin Moss, the dynamic 6'7 sophomore, won MAC Player of the Year. Hurley has already accrued a list of accolades on his second year as head coach and a lot of it is due to how good Buffalo is at the little things. They take care of the ball. They make their free throws. They score efficiently. They draw fouls in the paint. All of these things make the Buffalo Bulls a bad matchup for West Virginia, but you can meet all of these with the qualifier "YEAH, AGAINST THE MAC." Even the fact that Buffalo has played well against the press this year has "YEAH, BUT NOT THE WEST VIRGINIA PRESS" shortly to follow.
The honest truth is that this game boils down to the keys that come with every opponent West Virginia faces: the discrepancy of possessions between the two teams and West Virginia's efficiency to exploit that discrepancy. If there is no discrepancy, that means the press isn't working or the Mountaineers are turning the ball over enough to negate all the work being done on defense. That being said, if WVU forces turnovers and shoots 32%, then it is all for naught still.
There is an x-factor that is starting to show itself recently in Devin Williams. The big man is starting to have the ball run through him in the paint which immediately increases the shot percentage of the Mountaineer half court offense. A huge question is if Buffalo has an answer for the combination of Devin/Holton/Macon/Watkins on the box. If West Virginia can establish dominance on the boards, they control the game. For this reason and the wake up call that the team is probably getting from watching major Big 12 contenders fall on the first day, I see the Mountaineers taking care of business.
Prediction: WVU 78, Buffalo 70