Two SUNY schools make the big dance

Deshawn Bolden, reporter

For the first time in history, two SUNY schools made the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament. Over the past weekend, SUNY Albany punched their fifth ticket to the big dance while SUNY at Buffalo clinched their first playoff berth in program history.

Albany’s Peter Hooley, America East Tournament’s most outstanding player, missed nine three-pointers prior to draining the game winner at the top of the key with 1.6 seconds left to lift the Great Danes to a 51-50 victory over SUNY Stony Brook.


“When you’ve got angels watching, you can do anything,” Hooley told ESPN about the game-winner.


Hooley was referring to his late mother who lost a tough battle to cancer earlier in the season.


Sam Rowley added a team-high 18 points to keep Albany in striking distance throughout the game. Albany won their 3rd consecutive America East Title to send them to the tournament.


They say the third time’s the charm.


After losing previously in a down-to-the-wire contest against Ohio in 2005, SUNY at Buffalo won its first Mid-American Conference Title in school history. The second-seeded Bulls were led by Xavier Ford and Shannon Evans, who scored 18 points each en route to the 89-84 victory. The MAC player of the year, Justin Moss, also added 10 points, who returned from a sprained ankle the day before the big game.

“Would never have imagined it,” Moss said of UB’s first MAC Championship.


Bobby Hurley, who previously played and won an NCAA title with Duke, took over the program at UB just a year ago. At Duke, Hurley climbed the charts to become the all-time leader of assists in NCAA history. Hurley is no stranger to being on top, and feels the Bulls are right where they should be.


“This is an amazing group of players,” Hurley said of his team.


Both the Bulls and Great Danes are Cinderella story teams. Albany earned the 14th seed and will face third-seeded Oklahoma on Friday, March 20.

After winning its first conference tournament, Buffalo earned the 12th seed and will take on West Virginia in its first tournament bid.


There’s only one, unlikely way that the two SUNY schools will face each other in the tournament. Buffalo would have to eliminate undefeated Kentucky and both teams would have to go undefeated all the way to the Championship Game in Indianapolis.