It's not the NCAA's, but this evening the UB Women's Basketball team joined the men in breaking new postseason ground, securing their first-ever invitation to the WNIT. Buffalo is one of six teams from the Mid-American Conference to make it into the tournament.
With their next game, the Bulls will have a chance to hit 20 wins in a season for the first time since 1996-1997, when the team went 10-4 in the Mid-Continent Conference. At 19-12, UB has matched their highest win total since joining the MAC, and will advance to the second postseason tournament in program history, after an entry in the 2011 WBI.
In that tournament, the Bulls lost their first game by three points to Wright State. We do not yet know Buffalo's matchup in the WNIT, or the structure of the bracket at all, but we'll update this post as soon as we do.
It's West Virginia! No, really.
That's a lot of fun.
The full bracket is available right here. If UB can win in West Virginia on Thursday, they'd face the winner of Drexel and Hampton.
Sloane Martin pointed out on Twitter that West Virginia was one of the Next Four Out of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament according to ESPN Bracketology. The Mountaineers have an overall record of 18-14 and an extremely strong home/road split that will work in their favor as they host the first round game.
The two teams actually have a common opponent in St. Francis (PA). West Virginia won by a 101-46 margin, while Buffalo topped the Red Flash 88-80. Brea Holmes and Averee Fields lead the Mountaineers in scoring, while Lanay Montgomery is WVU's top rebounder.
It's good to see UB earn some respect in the eyes of tournament coordinators here after a 12-8 record (including postseason) against MAC opponents. The way the season went, there's plenty of reason to say "what if," and identify clear stumbling blocks, but at the same time the program is breaking new ground with the WNIT invite, a program-record-tying #4 seed in the MAC, and the program's second-ever appearance in a MAC Semifinal.*
*Remember that the first appearance was one of the most startling runs possible: the 2-14 Bulls matched their regular season win total to advance to the conference semis
I'm also especially glad that Kristen Sharkey, Christa Baccas, and Ayana Bradley will get more games with the Bulls. Mostly because I want to keep watching them play, but also because they've given so much to the program and in the cases of Sharkey and Baccas will finish in the UB Top Ten of multiple stats.
That we're not all jumping for joy at the last few weeks of the season says in my opinion wonders about the state of the program and its growth in the last three years. Here's to regular appearances in the postseason in coming years.