Round 2, Friday, March 20 2:10 p.m. ET,
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH, TNT
- No. 12 seed Buffalo brings an eight-game winning streak to its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. That eight-game streak includes victories over two of three teams that defeated UB in an early February three-game slide. The Bulls were a No. 2 seed in the MAC tournament and defeated Akron before knocking off No. 1 seed Central Michigan (89-84) in the MAC tourney championship.
-- No. 5 seed West Virginia, which is ranked No. 18, lost three of its last four games after a three-game winning streak. All three losses, however were to ranked teams: at No. 19 Baylor (78-66), at No. 9 Kansas (76-69, OT), No. 16 Baylor again in Big 12 quarterfinal action. WVA forced overtime despite playing without leading scorer Juwan Staten and another key contributor in Gary Browne. Both should be available against the Bulls.
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-- West Virginia is very productive on offense, ranking 36th nationally (73.9 ppg) and second among Big 12 teams behind Iowa State. The Moutaineers are 57th nationally in overall rebounds and first among Big 12 teams in offensive rebounds (16.84). The offensive rebounding and points off turnovers help make up for pedestrian shooting. WVU is ninth (out of 10 Big 12 teams) in field goal percentage (41.2%), while the Moutaineers are last in field goal defense (46.8%). They are also last in both shooting the three (31.8%) and defending the three (36.6%).
Staten, a 6-1 guard from Dayton, Ohio, leads WVU in scoring with a 14.5 ppg average. He is hitting 42.3 percent of his shots from the field and 35.8 percent from beyond the arc. He is one of only three Moutaineers hitting at least 70 percent (70.7%) at the foul line.
Forward Devin Williams (6-9, 255, So) is the other WVU player in double figures (11.3 ppg). He has a team-best 8.2 rpg average.
-- Like West Virginia, Buffalo shines in offense and rebounding. The Bulls rank 28th nationally at 75.0 ppg and are 16th nationally in rebounding (38.4 rpg).
-- MAC Player of the Year Justin Moss led the MAC in scoring with a 17..6 ppg average. He was also first in rebounding (9.1 rpg). Shannon Evans is the only other Bulls player in double figures (15.4). However, Xavier Ford (9.5) and Jarryn Skeete (9.5) are just south of double figure scoring. Ford, in fact, scored 17 and 18 points in Buffalo’s two MAC tourney games. The 6-7 senior also had 11 rebounds as part of a double-double in against Akron in the semifinals. Skeete had 12 points in the finals win against CMU and is capable of hitting some threes. He has connected on 61-of-154 (39.5%) on the year.
-- Moss entered the MAC tournament nursing a practice injury but seemed improved in the finals and should be better yet for the Mountaineers.
- Buffalo’s schedule this year included two No. 1 seeds in this year’s NCAA tournament. Coach Bobby Hurley’s crew performed well. The Bulls led Kentucky 38-33 at the half before falling 71-52. Buffalo also led Wisconsin at the break, 27-26, before losing 68-56.