For the eighth time, the NCAA Tournament makes its way into Buffalo for the first two rounds of March Madness.
And few men’s basketball programs may be as excited about that as the Connecticut Huskies.
One of the eight teams selected to open the tournament at KeyBank Center, No. 5-seeded UConn has a pleasant history with the city.
The last two times the Huskies have qualified for March Madness and began in Buffalo, they went on to win national championships, in 2004 and 2014.
Safe to say UConn likely danced its way to the arena for potentially two games. But could the Huskies, or any of the other seven teams — No. 4 Arkansas, No. 4 Providence, No. 5 Iowa, No. 12 New Mexico State, No. 12 Richmond, No. 13 Vermont and No. 13 South Dakota State — be the last team standing when the NCAA national champion is crowned?
2022 NCAA Tournament: Buffalo subregional breakdowns
As noted, UConn has enjoyed its previous visits to KeyBank Center. Half of the program’s national championships have started in Buffalo, after all.
Overall, the Huskies have gone 8-7 in NCAA Tournament games held in New York, dating back to 1954. In Buffalo, that record stands at 4-1. Connecticut (23-9) looks to continue its hot streak in the Queen City against No. 12 New Mexico State in the first round of the West Regional. Making just the program’s second appearance in New York, the Western Athletic Conference champion Aggies (26-6) hold one of the more enviable upset seeds in bracket history.
Teddy Allen, the WAC player of the year, provides a challenge for UConn, although the Huskies do rebound well offensively and shoot well from 3-point land.
On the same side of the bracket, No. 13 Vermont makes its return to Buffalo. The Catamounts (28-5) have twice played in KeyBank during the tournament, including in ’04 in a loss to UConn. Now, Vermont sets its sights on an upset of No. 4 Arkansas. The SEC Razorbacks (25-8) feature four layers averaging double digits in scoring average. However, Vermont, champion of the America East and boasting conference player of the year Ryan Davis, has allowed the ninth-fewest points per game (60.3) this season.
Moving to the Midwest Regional, Big Ten champion and No. 5 Iowa averages the fourth-most points across the country. The Hawkeyes (26-9) also boast the nation’s fourth-leading scorer in Keegan Murray at 23.6 points per game. Iowa will take on upset-minded and No. 12 Richmond, which makes its first appearance in the big dance since making a Sweet 16 run in 2011 — also as a 12 seed.
The Atlantic 10 champion Spiders (23-12) rides into the tournament with momentum after winning their conference tournament, benefitting greatly from the hot hand of Jacob Gilyard and his 19.75 points per game on 14-of-32 shooting from 3-point range.
And finally, the Big East regular-season champion Friars of No. 4 Providence head into Buffalo with a methodical offense that has led to one of the more successful seasons in program history. The Friars (25-5) pound the inside and take their time, which is a stark contrast to their opponent.
After all, No. 13 South Dakota State led the country in 3-point percentage (44.9%) on its way to averaging the second-most points (86.7). Summit League player of the year Baylor Scheierman leads the Jackrabbits (30-4) into the tournament, looking to become the third straight champion from this league to win a first-round game. South Dakota State comes in hot, riding the nation-best 21-game winning streak into March Madness.
Can you bet on these Buffalo March Madness games?
When it comes to legal online sports betting in New York, some restrictive regulations exist on college basketball wagering. For example, with the No. 14 Colgate Raiders readying themselves for a potential upset of No. 3 Wisconsin, bettors in New York cannot wager on Colgate.
Regulations prohibit NY sportsbooks from accepting bets on in-state colleges, regardless of where those games take place.
However, March Madness betting is alive and well for any games taking place in New York not involving in-state teams. And that includes the six games held in Buffalo this week.
Thursday, March 17
No. 13 South Dakota State vs. No. 4 Providence, 12:40 p.m., truTV
No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 5 Iowa, 3:10 p.m., truTV
No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 UConn, 6:50 p.m., TNT
No. 13 Vermont vs. No. 4 Arkansas, 9:20 p.m., TNT