With the NCAA Tournament already in progress, Mid-Major Madness will have on-site coverage from almost every First/Second Round site. That includes the two pods sent to Buffalo, NY, which features some interesting matchups of mid-major schools with a legitimate shot at busting brackets around the country.
Here are two mid-major teams that we’ll catch live in New York that could have CBS play-by-play commentator Verne Lundquist screaming “Oh my goodness” at the end of regulation.
No. 13 Bucknell (26-8) VS. No. 4 West Virginia (26-8)
Each school’s win-loss record’s mirror the other, so on paper it doesn’t seem like too much of mismatch. Bucknell was 2-3 during the season against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, highlighted by a win over 9 seed Vanderbilt on Nov 21.
6’7 Junior forward Zach Thomas led his team with 16 points per game and the Bison have three other players that averaged double-digits in scoring. The number one task at hand for Bucknell is to be effective in taking care of the ball. West Virginia is the No. 1 team in the nation in forced turnovers, so if Bucknell can avoid being careless, it could have a shot at the upset.
It was just one year ago that West Virginia was upset by another mid-major when Stephen F. Austin pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the tournament. So it is not unthinkable for it to happen once again in Buffalo. It will take a complete team effort and a near perfect performance for Bucknell to beat the more talented West Virginia squad, but as Herm Edwards once explained, “you play to win the game.”
No. 12 Princeton (23-6) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame (25-9)
Usually the Ivy League champion is subject to all the “they may be better at math than basketball” jokes. Not the case this year, partly because Notre Dame is also an academic powerhouse, and partly because the Tigers are another Ivy team that’s darn good on the court.
Princeton enters the NCAA Tournament ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score only 61.5 points per game. On the other side, Notre Dame is a team that lives and dies by its three-point shooting.
The Irish are 24th in the nation in attempting threes and they make 38.6 percent of those shots. They also score 36 percent of their points from beyond the arc. However, everybody has an off day once in a while. Even at inopportune times.
The Tigers will have to play their best game of the season and will have to rely on luck (not of the Irish) to get past Notre Dame. However, we all know how dangerous that No. 12 vs. No. 5 match-up can be. Crazy things happen, and if they happen in Buffalo, we’ll break it all down for you live.