UB takes si­mul­ta­ne­ous games in stride

Al­nutt rel­ishes the na­tional ex­po­sure

The Buffalo News - - SPORTS -

Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Mark Al­nutt was among those rac­ing to Alumni Arena after ESPN mis­tak­enly broad­cast the NCAA women’s bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment bracket hours be­fore it was in­tended.

“So I’m hus­tling over here from cam­pus, and as I walked in my of­fice, that’s when they flashed that we were play­ing Rut­gers,” Al­nutt said. “And then the first thing I no­ticed was 4:30 Eastern Time on Fri­day.”

The UB men and women are sched­uled to play si­mul­ta­ne­ously.

The No. 10-seeded UB (239) women will play No. 7 Rut­gers (22-9) at 4:30 p.m. Fri­day at the Uni­ver­sity of Con­necti­cut in Storrs, Conn., the same time as the sixth-seeded UB men play ei­ther No. 11-seeded Ari­zona State or St. John’s in Tulsa, Okla., in the first round of the men’s tour­na­ment. The game is sched­uled to be­gin at ap­prox­i­mately 4 p.m.

“And I’m just think­ing, ‘OK, ob­vi­ously you’d like to have some sep­a­ra­tion. You’d like to have maybe al­ter­nat­ing days,’ ” Al­nutt said. “But I also look at it like this — first of all, with it be­ing (at Con­necti­cut), for our fan­base, very sim­i­lar to Albany, we can get a lot of peo­ple to travel to Storrs from the New York area. And then the sec­ond thing is watch par­ties are go­ing to be hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where, you know, like at a place like San­tora’s. We’ll be able to have al­ter­nat­ing TVs and just make it a big UB bas­ket­ball watch party. Not just men and women spe­cific.”

Al­nutt said the school will need to work out the de­tails for si­mul­ta­ne­ous ra­dio broad­casts of each game.

He was dis­ap­pointed that the leak sent the women scram­bling and ru­ined the sus­pense.

“It just didn’t seem like a selec­tion show,” Al­nutt said. “I think a big piece of this is the re­ac­tion. There’s the live lookin, and that’s miss­ing, and there’s a lot of coaches, stu­dent ath­letes, staff, ADs that are just scratch­ing their heads, like, ‘Hey, how could this hap­pen?’ ”

But he chose to look on the bright side.

UB has two teams in the NCAA Tour­na­ment, even if they must play at the same time. That’s not such a bad prob­lem to have.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for us to be in the spot­light,” Al­nutt said, “and for our brand to con­tinue to grow. And the na­tional ex­po­sure that this uni­ver­sity and West­ern New York get, it’s a good thing.”

UB men ranked 15th

The Uni­ver­sity at Buf­falo climbed three places to No. 15, nearly reach­ing its high-wa­ter mark in the As­so­ci­ated Press Men’ Bas­ket­ball Poll re­leased Mon­day.

It was the 20th and fi­nal AP Poll of the 2018-19 reg­u­lar sea­son and UB was ranked for the last 19 weeks of the poll.

UB was ranked as high as 14th three times in the weekly AP Poll. Four weeks ago, the Bulls were 25th but that was be­fore they be­gan their 12game win streak start­ing with a Feb. 9 tri­umph over Cen­tral Michi­gan.

The Bulls, who open NCAA Tour­na­ment play Fri­day, passed Kan­sas, Kan­sas State, Vir­ginia Tech and Ne­vada in climb­ing from 18th to 15th this week. Among the teams trail­ing Buf­falo in the poll are Wis­con­sin, Cincin­nati and de­fend­ing NCAA cham­pion Vil­lanova.

In the USA To­day Coaches Poll, UB re­mained in 16th place. The top five in the USA To­day poll are Duke, Vir­ginia, Gon­zaga, North Carolina and Ten­nessee.

UB is ranked 15th in Mon­day’s NCAA NET rat­ings.

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