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Kentucky-Buffalo: What the computers say about the NCAA matchup

Buffalo coach Nate Oats reacts to a play during his team’s 89-68 win over Arizona in a first-round game in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Buffalo plays Kentucky on Sautrday.
Buffalo coach Nate Oats reacts to a play during his team’s 89-68 win over Arizona in a first-round game in the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament on Thursday, March 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Buffalo plays Kentucky on Sautrday. Associated Press

Here are what the computers say about South Region No. 5 seed Kentucky’s NCAA second-round opponent, the No. 13 seed Buffalo Bulls:

▪ After its shocking 89-68 trashing of Arizona on Thursday night, Buffalo is now ranked 64th by Ken Pomeroy. That puts the Bulls one spot behind Georgia and three spots behind LSU. They are ahead of Providence, a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Old Dominion, Utah and St. Bonaventure, a No. 11 seed.

Buffalo ranks just 127th in adjusted defensive efficiency, but 36th in adjusted offensive efficiency. That puts the Bulls ahead of UCLA (37) and Tennessee (38), which had an easy time with Wright State in the Vols’ NCAA opener on Thursday.

Buffalo plays fast. The Bulls are fifth in average possession length at just 14.8 seconds. They are 17th in adjusted tempo at 72.6 possessions per game. They are 26th in effective FG percentage at 55.1. They are 52nd in turnover percentage at 16.6 percent.

After its 78-73 win over Davidson on Thursday, Kentucky is now 17th overall in the kenpom rankings. The Cats are 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency and 25th in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Buffalo hit 15 of 30 three-points in the win over Arizona, but Kentucky is fourth in three-point defense as opponents are shooting just 30 percent from beyond the arc.

Pomeroy predicts an 84-77 Kentucky win. He gives Buffalo a 28 percent chance of pulling the upset.

▪ Jeff Sagarin’s computer ranks Buffalo at No. 66. The Bulls are behind Mississippi State (62) and ahead of Indiana (67), LSU (69), South Carolina (70) and Western Kentucky (72).

Sagarin ranks Buffalo’s strength of schedule at No. 132. The Bulls are 1-1 against his Top 25, with the win coming against Arizona. The Bulls are 1-3 versus his Top 50.

Sagarin currently has Kentucky at No. 14. That puts UK behind Xavier (12) and Texas Tech (13). He has the Cats ahead of Wichita State (15) and Tennessee (16). He ranks UK’s strength of schedule 14th.

▪ Coming into the tournament, the RPI ranked Buffalo at No. 25, tied with Texas A&M, just behind St. Bonaventure (23) and Gonzaga (23), while ahead of Miami (27), Loyola-Chicago (28) and West Virginia (29).

The RPI ranked Buffalo’s strength of schedule at No. 130. The Bulls are 0-5 against the RPI Top 50 -- before the tournament -- but 2-0 versus 51-100.

Coming into the tournament, UK was ranked 15th in the RPI. UK’s strength of schedule was ranked sixth.

▪ UK is currently 20th in ESPN”s Basketball Power Index. The Cats are behind Auburn (19) and ahead of TCU (21) and Creighton (22).

Buffalo is 68th in the BPI, behind Vermont (67) and ahead of New Mexico State (69) and SMU (70).

KENTUCKY VS. BUFFALO

When: Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ET

Where: Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho

TV: CBS-27

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