Bulls have what it takes to win at NCAA Tourney

March 17, 2019 - 10:16 pm
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Here are some of my initial thoughts on the UB Men's Basketball team before their first round game on Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I could argue that the Bulls should have been given a 5-seed, based upon the historical reference to their season.  They won 31 games, the most ever by a team in MAC history.  They had two quad-one wins.  Their NET ranking was 15, and they went 12-3 on the road.

However, there also is only so much that you can do when the majority of your schedule is against conference opponents.  Even though the MAC conference was rated as high as it has been in recent memory, other teams were able to play stronger opponents during their conference tournaments thi past week and possibly gain ground on them.  I think a 6-seed is fair, but I think the argument could be made that they could've been a 5-seed which gets you a slightly easier path to the Sweet 16.

As far as UB's draw goes, the NCAA has to love having a possible first-round matchup with Nate Oats facing former UB coach Bobby Hurley.  If Arizona State does beat St. John's, to have those two coaches going at it would definitely create buzz for that game.  I know it's supposed to be a random draw when you're talking about a 6 and an 11-seed, but there's no denying that they would love the headlines that would come with that matchup.  If St. John's wins, there is still a recognizable coach here too with this matchup as former St. John's star and NBA player Chris Mullin coaches the Red Storm.

If the Bulls were able to get by either Arizona State or St. John's, their likely opponent would be 3-seed Texas Tech.  The Red Raiders had an outstanding year securing part of the Big-12 Championship.  According to ESPN analytics, Texas Tech is playing the best defense in the nation, which means the Bulls are going to have to shoot well in order to get by the Red Raiders if they were to meet in the second round.  Texas Tech lost to West Virginia in the first round of their Big-12 Tournament.

I really think that when you look at the depth of scoring that the Bull have, you can give them a legitimate chance to get through the first weekend.  C.J. Massinburg, Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris clearly lead their team in points but Dontay Caruthers, Jayvon Graves, Davonta Jordan and Montell McRae can all contribute and can all shoot the three-ball.  As Nate Oats said to me on Sunday, it's not depth in terms of playing a certain number of players, their depth lies in how many players can contribute to the scoring that is needed to win a game.

When we usually talk about recipes for success in the NCAA Tournament, it's usually based upon having experienced upper-classmen, especially at the guard position, a team that can shoot the three-point ball well, a team that doesn't turn the ball over, and a team that plays good defense and rebounds well.  I think the Bulls check all those boxes.

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