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MAC Champion Bulls open NCAA Tournament play Thursday night against Arizona

UNIVERSITY AT BUFFALO ATHLETICS


Buffalo opens up NCAA Tournament action on Thursday evening as the 13th-seeded Bulls will face #4 Arizona in Boise, ID.  This is Buffalo's third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years as the Bulls are still looking to claim their first ever win in the Big Dance.

• The Bulls will be representing the Mid-American Conference for the third time in the last four years, the first MAC school to do that since Kent State in 1999, 2001, and 2002. UB is one of nine schools in the NCAA Tournament field to claim their league's automatic bid at least three times in the last four years.  One of the other nine schools is UB's first round opponent, Arizona.
• The Bulls enter the NCAA Tournament with a school-record 26 wins, beating opponents by an average of just under nine points per game.  UB is has won 19 of their last 22 games dating back to the start of 2018 with those three losses all coming on the road and by a combined eight points.  
• Buffalo and Arizona are two of 44 teams nationally scoring at least 80 points per game.  The Wildcats are 41st in scoring at 80.9 points per game, while the Bulls have one of the top offenses in the nation as they are seventh, scoring 84.8 points per game.
• Buffalo and Arizona will meet for the first time on the basketball court on Thursday night.  It will be just the third PAC-12 school that UB has ever faced.  Buffalo is 0-3 all-time against Washington State and 1-1 against Colorado, defeating them in Hawaii in 2008.
• All five schools that Buffalo lost to during their tough non-conference schedule made it into the NCAA Tournament.  Both Syracuse and St. Bonaventure are headed to Dayton for a First Four game, while Texas A&M received an at large bid and Cincinnati (American) and South Dakota State (Summit) both won their league's automatic bid.  The Jackrabbits will be joining Buffalo in Boise.
• The winner of Thursday night's game between Buffalo and Arizona will face the winner of #5 Kentucky and #12 Davidson on Saturday in the NCAA Second Round with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line.

The Opponent

• Arizona enters the NCAA Tournament with a 27-7 record, while winning the PAC-12 regular season and conference tournament.  The Wildcats went 14-4 in conference play.  It will be a matchup of two of the higher scoring teams in the nation as Arizona is averaging 80.9 points per game.  They are shooting over 50% from the floor for the year, which is fourth in the nation.
 
• Arizona is led by one of the top players in the nation in Deandre Ayton, who averages 20.3 points per game and 11.5 rebounds per contest. He also has a team-high 65 blocks.  The Wildcats have four players averaging 12.1 points per game or more.  Allonzo Trier averages 18.4 points per game.
 
• Arizona is making its 33rd appearance in the NCAA Tournament with an all-time record of 56-31 (.644) with a mark of 13-6 (.684) during the Sean Miller era. The 2018 NCAA Tournament will be the Wildcats' seventh appearance in the big dance in Miller's nine seasons in Tucson.
 
• Sean Miller owns a 340-113 (.751) record in 13 years as a head coach, while attaining a 220-66 (.769) mark at Arizona and a 107-37 (.743) record in Pac-12 play. In 25 years on the collegiate sidelines, Miller's teams have produced 22 winning seasons and averaged better than 20 wins per year. He also has three gold medals as a member of the USA Basketball program, one as a player, one as an assistant coach and one as a head coach. Miller has been a part of 16 NCAA Tournament teams as a player, assistant coach and head coach, including ten in his 13-year head coaching career. He has guided teams to seven Sweet 16's and four Elite Eights, and owns a 20-10 (.667) record as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament. Miller played at Pittsburgh where he helped lead the Panthers to the 1988 Big East regular season title.
 
Bulls Set For Third NCAA Tournament Trip
For the third time in school history Buffalo will head to the NCAA Tournament, matching up with the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday evening.  The Bulls are still looking for their first NCAA Tournament victory as they fell to West Virginia in 2015 and Miami (FL) in 2016.  UB is the first team from the Mid-American Conference to go to three NCAA Tournaments in a four-year period since Kent State in 1999, 2001, 2002.
 
Of the 14 players on the UB roster, only three of them have NCAA Tournament experience, led by Ikenna Smart the only Buffalo player to have been a part of all three NCAA Tournament teams.  Juniors CJ Massinburg and Nick Perkins were both freshmen in 2016 when UB faced Miami and Perkins led the Bulls with 20 points in the game.  The Bulls are looking to become the first MAC team to win a game in the NCAA Tournament since Ohio's Sweet 16 run in 2012.