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NCAA Tournament: Predictions for Arizona State vs. Buffalo

It's Bobby Hurley vs. his former team
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Posted at 3:16 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-21 18:30:50-04

On Wednesday, the Arizona State Sun Devils got their first NCAA Tournament victory in 10 years.

On Friday, they No. 11 seed Devils will take on No. 6 seed Buffalo in a round of 64 matchup. The obvious storyline going into this game is ASU coach Bobby Hurley facing his former club, as Hurley's first head coaching job was with Buffalo from 2013-15.

Buffalo's current coach is Hurley's former assistant Nate Oats, who has guided the Bulls to a 31-3 record this season. Buffalo upset No. 4 seed Arizona in last year's Tournament.

Friday's game will take place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will begin at 1 p.m. Arizona time and will air on TNT.

Who will win? Here are some predictions from the ABC15 team.

ABC15 sportswriter Shane Dale

Let's start with the obvious: If the Sun Devils are going to beat Buffalo, they'll have to play better than they did in a win against a St. John's team that really didn't belong in the Tournament. ASU committed 21 turnovers in that game and went cold on offense multiple times in the second half. Buffalo is ranked No. 21 in the nation in defensive efficiency, although both teams hold opponents to under 42 percent from the field.

With that said, the Sun Devils can beat nearly anyone in the country when they play their best basketball (check their non-conference schedule), and Hurley will have his team ready to face his protégé on Friday. Buffalo star guard C.J. Massinburg will probably get his 20 points and 6-7 rebounds, but if the Devils don't let any other Bulls players stand out -- and if ASU guard Remy Martin, who's dealing with a groin injury, can improve upon his six-point, six-turnover performance vs. St. John's -- I like ASU to pull off the upset. ASU 73, Buffalo 72

ABC15 real-time editor Ali Mehlhorn

It was clear Wednesday night that Remy Martin is not at full strength. Without him at the top of his game, the Bulls' high-tempo offense and depth may just be too much for the Sun Devils. Even if C.J. Massinburg isn't on, Nick Perkins and Jeremy Harris typically pick up the slack.

On the other end of the floor, Davonta Jordan and Dontay Caruthers could give the already turnover-plagued Sun Devils problems. If ASU wants a chance, it's going to need slow down Buffalo and get some big performances from Zylan Cheatham and Luguentz Dort. The firepower of the nation's fifth highest scoring team may end an Arizona team's season for the second straight year. Buffalo 81, ASU 72

ABC15 real-time editor Seth Pines

The Buffalo Bulls will soon have the ire of both UA and ASU fans following Friday’s matchup against the Sun Devils. Things will come full circle as Bobby Hurley faces off against his former team back east. The Bulls are coming off an ultra-successful regular season where they knocked off well-known programs including Syracuse and West Virginia.

Ultimately, I believe the combo of C.J. Massinburg and Dontay Caruthers will be too much for the Devils. Massinburg thrives during crunch time and Caruthers should match up well against Remy Martin and Lu Dort. The Bulls have been here before and they’ll do it again. Buffalo 78, ASU 69