The Bulls first managed to gain a No. 3 seed for the MAC tourney. That gave them a bye to the quarterfinal round. Buffalo then defeated the last two teams to hand them losses -- Miami (OH) and Ohio. A championship performance gave UB its second consecutive MAC tourney title, along with a berth in the NCAA tourney.
If the Bulls are going to make it five straight wins, they'll have to come up with another solid performance -- and then some!!
Here's a look at the two teams:
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Place: Dunkin Donuts Center; Providence, RI.
MIAMI HURRICANES (25-7, 13-5 ACC)
-- The Hurricanes finished second among ACC teams. Both Virginia and Miami were one game behind North Carolina (14-4).
-- Miami is ranked 10th nationally by the AP poll, 11th by USA today and 13th by KenPom.com. Buffalo is 131st in the latter and 91st in RPI. Miamni is ninth in RPI.
-- Head coach Jim Larranaga was head coach at Bowling Green State University from 1986-97. He moved on to lead George mason from 1997-2011 before taking over the Hurrianes head coaching position in 2011. He won ACC Coach of the Year honors this year for the second time in four seasons.
His overall record for 31 years is 561-383. He is 91-49 at Miamiand 41-29 in ACC play.
-- Miami closed the regular season by winning 8-of-10 outings. After dropping the regular season finale to Virginia Tech 77-62, the Hurricanes defeated VaTech 88-82 in the ACC tourney.
-- Virginia, ranked No. 4 in the nation, eliminted Miami 73-68 in the ACC semifinals.
-- The Hurricanes average 67 points per game, with four players in double figures. Sheldon McClellen, a 6-5 senior guard, leads the way with 15.8 ppg. Angel Rodriguez (5-11, Sr., G) is at 11.7 ppg., followed by Davon Reed (6-6, Jr. G) at 11.3 ppg. and JaQuan Newton (6-2, So, G) with 11.1 ppg.
-- Tonye Jekiri, a 7-0, 244-pound senior, leads the tam with 8.9 rebounds per game and chips in 8.0 points per contest. He was named to the ACC All-Defensive team. Junior Kamari Murphy. (6-8) averages 5.8 rpg.
-- McClellan has been rated 10th most efficient offensive player in the country among players used in 20 percent of possessions and 28th overall, according to kenPom.com. He has the 14th best shooting percentage (50%) in the country among guards.
-- Miami is hitting 47.7 percent from the field, the best in program history since the 1988-89 season.
-- The Bulls are making their second consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. They also won the MAC tourney in 2015, earning a berth in the NCAA tourney. Buffalo (12-seed) was within two points in the final minute, but fifth-seeded West Virginia posted a 68-62 victory.
-- UB’s success has come under a new coach. Nate Oates, an assistant at Buffalo for two years, was named to the head coaching position after Bobby Hurley left to take over at Arizona State.
-- OATES ON THE HURRICANES' SIMILARITIES TO WHAT BOWLING GREEN DOES: We didn't know who we were going to get (in the tournament), and right off the bat -- I've known Coach Huger at BG. Shoot, I came from Romulus out to Buffalo. There's two Romulus players that actually played for Larranaga, and my assistant played with them. So I kind of knew the whole BG/Miami connection. So as soon as it popped up, that was the first thing that came into my head.
"As we watch them, BG runs a lot of stuff -- he pretty much said he's learned everything he know as far as coaching from Coach Larranaga, talking about Coach Huger at Bowling Green. So they do run similar stuff. It's just Bowling Green on steroids. They've got the pro version of Bowling Green, I might say. These guys are pretty freaky athletic. I mean, Coach Larranaga does an unbelievable job. I don't think they'll take us lightly, seeing that he took George Mason to the Final Four. He knows what a mid-major program can do in the tournament since he did it himself."
-- Buffalo is a 14-seed and therefore meets the No. 3 seed. It took a while for the Bulls to jell. They were at .500 (8-8) after losing to Eastern Michigan Jan. 8. They went 12-6 the rest of the way (including tournament play).
-- UB is averaging 78 ppg. Lamonte Bearden, a 6-3 sophomore guard, tops the squad with a 13.6 ppg average. Others in double figures are Blake Hamilton (13.1 ppg), Willie Conner (12.1 ppg) and CJ Massinburg 11.3 ppg).
-- Conner, a 6-5 junior, earned Most Valuable Player honors at the MAC tourney, following strong performances against Miami (25 points) and Ohio (22 points). He had seven in the finals. Conner 18-of-36 3-point shots in three tournament games.
-- CONNER ON THE IMPORTANCE OF HITTING SOME THREES: I think it's going to be kind of important for us tomorrow to make a lot of shots, especially for me on the arc because once we get going and open up driving gaps for Blake, Lamonte, Skeete, guys like that, if we miss a few, that's not going to stop us from shooting. We're going to stay with it and hopefully we'll get a few to fall like we did in the MAC tournament.
-- Massinburg, a freshman guard, came through with 18 points to lead UB scorers in the MAC championship game. He hit 6-of-9 from the field, including 4-of-6 on threes.
-- The Bulls ranked second among MAC teams in 3-point defense and were fifth in rebounding margin. (+3.0).
-- UB was third (MAC) in scoring offense (77.6 ppg) and last in scoring defense (75.1 ppg).
-- Buffalo was eighth (MAC) in field goal percentage (43.8%), sixth in field goal percentage defense (43.2%) and ninth in 3-point goal percentage (33.7%).