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Sweet Sixteen Preview: #11 Buffalo Bulls vs. #2 South Carolina Gamecocks

UB Athletics

Through a pair of dominating wins over South Florida and Florida State, UB Women’s Basketball has made it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for their first appearance in the Sweet Sixteen.

The Bulls will now have their hands full in Albany, NY as they get ready to square off against #2 South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the defending NCAA Champions and currently have a roster full of players with length and athleticism. Of these players, the Bulls will need to exercise caution against A’ja Wilson, arguably the best player in all of college basketball.

The Gamecocks are led by Dawn Staley, one of the best coaches in women’s basketball. It’s hard to find coaches better than Staley and it shows in her 421-166 overall record going back to her days at Temple.

South Carolina does a ton of things that will leave the Bulls’ head scratching. But, the number one thing to keep in mind is that the first priority is to get the ball down low to either Wilson or their other top forward Alexis Jennings. That duo makes up around 37 points per game of scoring for the Gamecocks this season.

What’s tricky with the Gamecocks’ offensive plan is they run so many different motion offenses seamlessly and do a great job at figuring out what types of looks work best. They also do a fantastic job at switching up the tempo in various points of the game.

Meanwhile, on defense, South Carolina is going to mostly stay away from zone, which I think works out well in UB’s favor.

This isn’t going to be an easy matchup for Buffalo, but they have a shot at making this a game. On offense, they really need a great day from beyond the arc, especially since South Carolina hasn’t been perfect at guarding the perimeter in this tournament. Also, every offensive board the Bulls pull down will be crucial in how this game pans out.

UB will do their best on defense if they switch it up and keep the Gamecocks on their toes. #10 Virginia did this extremely well, showing several different defensive schemes in the opening quarter. Switching in-and-out of the matchup zone might actually help the Bulls instead of sticking with it for the bulk of the game.

Finally, there’s the threat of Wilson. Clogging of the post and letting her have the ball as little as possible is a great option. If she does get a look, UB must put in a strong effort to get multiple bodies down low to prevent easy shots.

Overall, I think this is actually one of the better matchups Buffalo could’ve drawn for the Sweet Sixteen. The Bulls are still heavy underdogs, but if they go out and play their game, they could actually have a shot in this one heading into the fourth quarter.