This will be a weekly feature published every Sunday on From the 300 Level and will include recaps, podcasts and any other additional Big 4 basketball content we can think of. You can follow Mike Bundt on Twitter @Mike_Bundt.
It was a quiet week for half of the teams in the Big 4 (Canisius, Niagara) but UB more than made up for it with their HUGE victory over #13 West Virginia on Friday night.
Buffalo enters the first weekend of the college basketball season sitting at 2-0, on the verge of possibly being ranked for the first time in program history.
St. Bonaventure on the other hand has more questions than answers. The Bonnies are looking for someone to step up and fill the void of graduating seniors Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. Making matters even more difficult is the absence of Second-Team All-Atlantic 10 performer Courtney Stockard who is beginning the season on the sidelines due to an injury.
1. Buffalo (2-0), Last Week: Wins over St. Francis (PA) and #13 West Virginia
It was a GREAT opening week of the season for the UB Bulls. They notched a pair of victories, picking up their 2nd win over a Top 25 opponent in program history (Arizona in NCAA Tournament was first).
CJ Massinburg had 43 points vs. West Virginia, finishing the week averaging 27 points per game, 11 rebounds and 3.5 assists. His 43 points versus the Mountaineers were the 2nd most in UB history and the first 40+ point game against WVU since Andrew Wiggins did so for Kansas in 2014.
His amazing play did mask some early season worries for Buffalo. Their 3-point shooting has been poor as they’ve combined to shoot 18-71 (25%) from deep through two games.
According to Jeff Goodman, Jeremy Harris has been dealing with a wrist injury which could explain his struggles, shooting 28% from the field.
One player stepping up is sophomore Jayvon Graves. He’s proving to be a reliable scoring option for the Bulls, averaging 13 points per game.
Next Week: at Southern Illinois (0-1) on Monday.
2. Canisius (0-0)
Canisius is still waiting to get their season underway. They open up non-conference play Tuesday evening on the road at Bucknell.
The Bison will provide a difficult challenge for the Griffs. They’re coming off a NCAA Tournament appearance last season and took down St. Bonaventure in their opener at the Reilly Center.
Canisius returns to the Koessler Athletic Center on Saturday for the Griffs home opener against a talented Albany squad.
Keep an eye out for MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Isaiah Reese and defending MAAC Rookie of the Year Takal Molson.
Next Week: at Bucknell (1/1), vs. Albany (0-1)
3. St. Bonaventure (1-1), Last Week: Loss to Bucknell, Win vs. Jackson State
It was a disappointing opening week for the Bonnies who split a pair of games against Bucknell and Jackson State.
It’s obvious early on that the Bonnies are trying to figure out who’s going to step up in the absence of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.
With him gone, St. Bonaventure has looked out of sync. They blew a 13-point second half lead against the Bison, falling in overtime.
In that game, senior forward LaDarien Griffin was hurt late in the second half and was held out of the Bonnies second game against Jackson State.
St. Bonaventure cruised against the Tigers as expected. Jackson State might be one of the worst teams in the country but that didn’t stop the Bonnies from going through their share of struggles offensively.
They shot only 36% from the field but rolled to a 31-point win thanks to a stellar defensive outing, holding the Tigers to 36 points on 21% shooting.
UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser and freshman Kyle Lofton both showed off some scoring ability, averaging 18 and 17 points per game respectively.
Next Week: at Niagara (0-0) on Monday
4. Niagara (0-0)
Just like their MAAC counterpart Canisius, the Niagara Purple Eagles are off to a late start. They’ll more than make up for it with a trio of games this week.
Niagara opens their season at home against St. Bonaventure on Monday night, a rematch of last years season opener for both teams in which the Purple Eagles shocked the Bonnies minus Jaylen Adams at the Reilly Center.
From there, Chris Casey has his team traveling to Chicago to take on the darlings of last years NCAA Tournament, Final Four participant Loyola University (Chicago). The Purple Eagle will be encountering an angry Ramblers squad that was just shocked at home by Furman.
And their week continues with their 3rd game in five days on Friday when they head further west to battle Wyoming. Definitely not an easy stretch to open their season.
Next Week: vs. St. Bonaventure, at Loyola (Chi.), at Wyoming