Tiny Dancers: Buffalo beats Akron with clutch step-back 3, dancing again

For the second year in a row, Buffalo found itself in a tight spot in the MAC title game. After Bobby Hurley led the Bulls to the tournament a year ago, Arizona State came calling and Nate Oats was promoted.

The Bulls took a slight step back in wins this season but got right back into the same spot against top-seeded Akron, and once again emerged with a narrow win to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Of course there are two sides to this as Akron, a top-100 team with 26 wins on the season, falls into the growing at-large pool that will be sorted out by the selection committee on Sunday. The Zips were looking at a potential 12-seed with an automatic bid, so it’s going to be a close call to see if they make the final bracket. To miss out on the dance after this season would be disappointing, especially the way the game was won.

CJ Massinburg led the team with 18 points and seven rebounds while Blake Hamilton had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Hamilton also provided the game-winning basket on this pretty 3-pointer with just one second left on the clock.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 20-14 overall, 10-8 in MAC
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2015 (lost to West Virginia in the Round of 64 as a 12-seed)
  • Jerry Palm predicts:
  • RPI: 97
  • KenPom Ranking: 131
  • Sagarin Ranking: 139
  • Best wins: vs. Akron, at Toledo
  • Worst Losses: vs. Miami (Ohio), at Western Michigan
  • Notable stat: 0-1. Buffalo’s all-time record in NCAA tournament games.

Closing quip. Bobby Hurley’s name brought attention to the Bulls’ postseason wins last year, and ending the drought made Buffalo a team that many were excited to see in the classic 5-12 upset spot. Losing to West Virginia and then losing Bobby Hurley along with a few key players appeared to set the team back, but Nate Oats has done a great job getting the Bulls back to the dance.

Buffalo is making a second straight trip to the tourney.(USATSI)
Buffalo is making a second straight trip to the tourney. (USATSI)

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