March Madness Preview and Pick
Big 12 regular season champions Texas Tech square off against the MAC’s top squad Buffalo on Sunday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.March Madness Preview and Pick: Raiders -3.5 vs Bulls.
Buffalo comes off an emotional victory over their former coach Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Texas Tech squad under the leadership of Chris Beard and the Raiders who have an experienced “Dance” group of player personnel.
The danger of a 2nd-round letdown after a large margin of victory in the Round-of-64 is real. The Bulls destroyed Hurley’s Gurley’s on Friday night scoring 91 points in total. Buffalo as a program has never advanced to the Round-of-32 and in their 32-win season have not faced a defense as capable and elite as Beard’s boys.
Senior forward Nick Perkins (14.6 points, team-high 7.3 rebounds) is the first off the bench for the high flying Bulls. Perkins earned the MAC Sixth Man of the Year this season. He will, however, have to be at his best if he is to duplicate his 21 points and 10 rebounds he recorded versus Arizona State.
C.J.Massinburg (18.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists) and senior guard Jeremy Harris (14.2 points, 6.2 rebounds) have orchestrated a high scoring offense this season and have been the headliners on ESPN more often than not as the 4th highest scoring offensive in Division I this season.
The Bulls have not faced an elite defense this season. In fact Buffalo has not tangled with a team ranked lower than 50th in all of college basketball with such an adjusted defensive efficiency rating. Across their last two months, during the second half of the MAC regular season slate, their lowest scoring outputs came against the MAC’s best defensive squad, the Zips from Akron, who have a surface ranking of 23rd in points allowed on the season. Note that that ranking is not an adjusted efficiency rating and is overly dependent on the tempo that the Zips play at.
Tech was part of last year’s Great Eight. And along with Michigan and Virginia easily pose the biggest test for high-scoring offenses in this year’s “Dance”. The Raiders allow less than 60 points per game (59.2), joining South No. 1 seed Virginia (55.1) and West No. 2 Michigan (58.2), as the best in containing opposing offenses.
Buffalo’s 84.9 points per game average is the third highest offensive output per game remaining in the tournament. But their strength of schedule is best described as soft. The Bulls played just three total Quad 1 games this season. Furthermore registered a total of just nine affairs versus Quad 1’s and 2’s.
Posturing the Bulls in the same sentence with the two offenses that score more per game than Buffalo would be a disservice to both Buffalo and the two top seeded schools. The West No. 1 Gonzaga (88.6) and Midwest No. 1 North Carolina (86.1) are the only two clubs that average more points per game than Buffalo.
If there were a more difficult matchup for the Bulls in the Round-of-32 than today’s Red Raiders I will argue it. Of the three elite defenses in this year’s “Dance” there isn’t one more equipped to handle them than Texas Tech. No remaining defense in this yours national championship tourney does a better job of turning their opponent over than the Raiders. Also Tech’s opponents (29.6 percent) have shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc this year.