Buffalo Bulls: 26-8, 15-3 in the Mid-American Conference
Head coach: Nate Oats (3rd season)
Players to watch: CJ Massinburg (16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 39.3 3PT%); Nick Perkins (16.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG); Jeremy Harris (15.4 PPG, 43.2 3PT%)
Season recap: Missing one of their starting senior guards, Wes Clark, the Bulls started the season slow with three losses in their first eight games, including defeats against South Dakota State and St. Bonaventure. Clark’s return came at a fortuitous time, though, as Buffalo faced two tough teams in Syracuse and then-No. 8 Texas A&M. Despite Clark averaging 16 points across the two contests, the Bulls dropped both, sliding to 7-5 on the season.
As conference play rolled in, however, Buffalo started to pick up steam. The Bulls put together a nine-game winning streak against mostly conference opponents, with Clark leading the charge in many of the contests. Buffalo lost just three contests from those back-to-back defeats, including a two-point overtime loss to Miami (Ohio). Favored to win the tournament with the conference’s No. 1 seed, the Bulls steamrolled all of their opponents in the tournament en route to a third MAC championship and the league's spot in the NCAA tournament.
How they make a run: Buffalo’s prolific 3-point shooting—the team averages nearly ten makes per game on better than 37 percent long-range shooting—continues and the Bulls ride their dominance from the MAC tournament into a deep run.
How they falter: Buffalo’s struggles in conference play from a lack of ball discipline—it has turned the ball over as many as 28 times in a game—return against more staunch opponents and the Bulls are unable to pull a first-round upset.
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