It had been over 20-years since the Mid-American Conference earned an at-large bid to the women's NCAA Tournament. An at-large bid at the mid-major level is extremely difficult and sometimes feels impossible. The selection committee historically has favored middle-of-the-pack Power 5 schools when considering those on the bubble.
The MAC, however, is loaded with talented teams and many would argue this should have happened years ago.
Buffalo Women's Basketball broke through, getting their first ever at-large bid in school history. The 11 seeded Bulls just proved to everyone why they, and many other mid-majors belong. In a first-round stunning matchup against No. 6 South Florida, Buffalo won 102-79, winning in every statistical category.
This also became the most points scored by a double-digit seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Junior Cierra Dillard recorded a 36-point performance on 11-18 shooting, 7-13 beyond the arc. Senior Stephanie Reid finished with 19 points and Courtney Wilkins came off the bench with 23 points.
After a shaky start in the first quarter, Buffalo settled in and exploded for 32 points in the second quarter and a 43-38 halftime lead, and they never looked back. At 28-5 on the season, it's clear this Buffalo team is talented.
They can defend, holding opponents to under 65 points per game. They can score it, averaging 78 points per game. They out-rebound their opponents and they share the basketball. But more than any stat, they out-hustle and they play with a level of energy and grit that is hard to match or even explain.
I credit head coach Felisha Legette-Jack and her staff for that, along with senior leader Stephanie Reid. They've got an edge to them and the rest of the team follows their lead.
This Buffalo team can be flat out scary when they are clicking like they have of late. They deserve to be in this NCAA Tournament, hopefully paving the way for many more at-large bids for mid-majors in the future.
The Bulls will face No. 3 Florida State on Monday night at 6:30pm EST.