Today was the best day in MAC women’s basketball history.
Buffalo and Central Michigan both won first-round games over higher-seeded opponents. Both were clearly the better team on the court.
Buffalo was absolutely dominating. The Bulls beat South Florida, 102-79. A hundred points. A 23-point margin. This from a team that was the MAC runner-up and got into the tournament with the league’s first at-large bid in 22 years.
Central Michigan beat LSU, 78-69. The Chippewas never trailed by more than two and led by at least seven throughout the fourth quarter.
Both Buffalo and CMU were No. 11 seeds. That means the selection committee thought 10 teams in their brackets were better. South Florida and LSU were six seeds. The only higher seed to win in the first round was No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast, which beat Missouri, 80-70.
The wins were the first ever in the NCAA tournament for Central and Buffalo.
Central Michigan (29-3) will play No. 3 seed Ohio State (28-6) in Columbus on Monday, and Buffalo (28-4) will play third-seeded Florida State (26-6). Buffalo’s game will be at Florida State. Ohio State’s will be St. John Arena, not on campus, because the Ohio high school state tournament is being held there. (To keep attendance up, the NCAA schedules first-round women’s games on the home court of the highest-seeded team in the four-team grouping. In the men’s tournament, all games are at neutral sites.)
Toledo and Kent State won first-round games in 1996, Toledo by 12 over Mississippi and KSU by four over Texas A&M. Both MAC schools were 10 seeds. Kent State got in the tournament as an at-large team, the last MAC school to do so before Buffalo.
Bowling Green is the only MAC team to win a second-round game. In 2007, they were a 7 seed and beat No. 10 seed Oklahoma State 70-66, then No. 2 seed Vanderbilt 59-56. They lost in the Sweet 16 to Arizona, 67-49.
Ball State beat Tennessee as a 12 seed in 2009. Otherwise, today’s two 11 seed wins were the lowest seeded teams to win. Toledo was also an 11 seed when it beat Rutgers in 1991.