For the first time ever, the Buffalo Bulls Women's Basketball team will be putting on their dancing shoes. The Bulls secured their first ever NCAA Tournament bid after a dramatic buzzer beating win over Central Michigan for the MAC Championship. UB now has their toughest challenge of the season in front of them as they will go toe to toe with the Ohio State Buckeyes. The Buckeyes have been a force to be reckoned with all season except for a few hiccups in their last four games.
Opponent: Ohio State
Head Coach: Kevin McGuff (320-135, 3rd year with Ohio State)
Date/Time: 3/18/16, 2:30 PM
Location: St. John Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States, Earth
Opponent's Mascot: A tree
Current Record: 24-7 (15-3 Big Ten)
All Time Series: This is the first meeting between the Bulls and the Buckeyes.
Names to Watch For
The 5'8" sophomore guard from Cincinnati is going to be tough to stop. Mitchell averages 25.7 points per game and tacks on a few assists as well. I'd imagine that this is going to mostly be Joanna Smith's assignment to guard. Mitchell is coming off of a huge quarterfinal game versus Rutgers in which she rained 43 points, a Big Ten Tournament record. As a note, the entire Ohio State team scored 73 points total in that game.
The 5'9" point guard is the second major threat in this Ohio State offense. There were concerns that Alston wouldn't be able to play this game as she sat out the last game to injury. Fear not though, Buffalo won't be catching a break here. Alston is averaging 18.6 points per game and although she only averages a few assists per game, she can really run up that area of the box score as well.
Hart is currently fourth in the nation in shooting percentage with her 63.4% from the field. That number was even better in Big Ten play as she shot a bewildering 68%. At 6'3", the forward has a height advantage on everyone except Cassie Oursler. This could be a serious test for the Grand Island native.
How to Win Against the Buckeyes
1. Play like #2 Notre Dame did (I'm not kidding)
Crash the boards and keep Alston in check. The Fighting Irish were able to squeak out a 75-72 win by doing this. The Buckeyes were out-rebounded 45-34 (which is something the Bulls do a good job with) and Alston was held to only 13 points. That still seems like a lot of points, but we're talking about a player who can drop 30+ on a good night. It would also be safe to say without prior knowledge that the Fighting Irish shot the ball pretty well to grab this win. Luckily for the Bulls, this wasn't the case as Notre Dame only shot 37.5% from the field and 29% from three.
2. Slow it down
If Ohio controls the pace, this game is as good as gone. The Buckeyes are third in the country for scoring with an average of 86.7 points per game. I seriously think that there's a chance here if Buffalo slows it to a pace like the one used against Bowling Green every time we faced them. It would be unfamiliar territory for Ohio State and some of the greatest college basketball upsets in history have happened when the underdog team slowed the pace and dragged out the game.
3. Play your best 40 minutes
This one's pretty simple. Buffalo is facing in my opinion what looks like a top five team in the country and in order to upset a team of this caliber, they need to bring out their best.
Chances of a Buffalo Win
Execute the above and I'll give the Bulls a 30% chance. That assuming they play perfect and in reality that may not happen. This is a super optimistic number but then again, this team has been a delightful surprise this season. Maybe we'll be surprised yet again.