The University at Buffalo Men’s basketball team just earned it’s 21st victory of the season already after their 76-70 win at Akron. This time last year, UB was coming off of their yearly @NIU loss, going to 10-2 and 18-7 overall. They did not earn their 21st win until their third to last game against Ohio.
The Bulls have been winning in a multitude of ways this season. Their fast-paced tempo makes them one of the most exciting teams in college basketball. According to Kenpom, UB has the 9th fastest tempo (74.3 possessions every 40 minutes). They also have the 28th ranked offense, and 30th ranked defense. Their offensive numbers have taken a bit of a hit lately. They are currently receiving bracket predictions between 6-8 in most places and a soft @NIU loss has really hurt the team. NIU is now without all-MAC player Eugene German after another driving violation that caused the team to suspend him. The Junior guard is averaging 20 PPG and is in the MAC POTY discussion. NIU is now 1-5 since their court-storming win against Buffalo in an ice storm in Dekalb, IL. The Bulls needed that one, and it could end up costing them a seed or two.
The Bulls were down 18 points Saturday evening against CMU, a team that has had no problem scoring. Central Michigan was leading 32-14 at 7:54 mark of the first half. The Bulls put on one of their patented runs to bring the game even at 38 before being down 43-38 at halftime. Coach Keno Davis believes its due to the depth of the Bulls that they are able to continue to never be out of games. “That’s the reason Buffalo is one of the top 25 teams because they’ve got guys coming off the bench that are all-conference players or could be all-conference players,” he went on to elaborate “To be able to have that in your rotation, obviously, it gave them a great edge.” UB was able to force CMU into 23 turnovers and coach Davis told us “Buffalo has intense ball pressure and really forces us into tough moments. We haven’t been in this much foul trouble all season, it was the worst foul trouble we’ve had in years”. Coach Davis alludes us to the fact that Buffalo’s defense clearly sets up its offense. He later went on to say Buffalo is one of the best transition teams that he’s ever seen.
Nate Oats said “CJ Massinburg is dealing with the same shoulder injury that bothered Wes Clark for several weeks last season, but it’s not as severe.”
On Tuesday night, the Bulls traveled to Akron. Akron is 11-1 at Rhodes Arena this season. Their only loss at home came Dec. 15, a one-point loss to Marshall. Buffalo was ahead for much of the game, but Akron’s top 30 defense kept them in it the entire way. The Bulls haven’t had a ton of success at Rhodes arena, losing 4 straight years prior to last year. Now they have themselves a 2 game winning streak in Akron. UB used the free throw line to salt away the zips, going 21-26 led by CJ Massinburg’s 11-12. Akron scored zero bench points on Tuesday, and this was the main difference, Buffalo was +28 bench points.
UB has had some gritty wins lately. Playing defense, making runs, making free throws, and holding on at the end of games. They now go to an impressive 9-3 in road games and 11-3 in road/neutral games, one of the best records in the country. They have worked their home winning streak up to 22, which is tied for the 2nd most in the nation with Tennessee.
Buffalo is set up for another clash with Toledo on Friday. They beat Toledo 110-80 at Alumni Arena, in a game that Jeremy Harris took over. Since their 0-2 start, Toledo is a new team, going 8-1 and putting themselves solidly in the top 3 of the conference. A win by Buffalo and they are set up for a top 2 finish with a two-game lead and the tiebreaker over Toledo. The Rockets have only lost 1 home game this year, to Ball State. They are 11-1 on the season at Savage Arena and are expected to have a large crowd as #25 Buffalo comes to town for this primetime game. Although 20-4, their only quality win is at Bowling Green, and that came on Saturday.
The Bulls and the Rockets tip-off at 7 PM in Toledo on ESPNU.