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 an intriguing week for Buffalo Big Four hoops. UB entered Monday night’s contest against Southern Illinois ranked in the AP Poll for the first time in program history.
Niagara and Canisius FINALLY opened up their seasons while St. Bonaventure is still trying to figure out their identity with Courtney Stockard out of their lineup.
Here’s our first edition of Stock up, Stock Down!
#22 Buffalo: (3-0), Last Week: Win over Southern Illinois
The stock watch arrow will be pointing upwards for the Bulls until they give us a reason to do otherwise. And honestly, that’s the way it should be for a team that continues to put their program on the map.
UB showed incredible poise last Monday, pulling off an impressive road win over a talented Southern Illinois team that took Kentucky down to the wire in their season opener.
Buffalo overcame a rough start and another poor shooting performance (35.5% from field, 28.6% from deep) as they secured a critical nine-point win, ensuring they’ll remain ranked heading into this week.
Things should get easier for UB the next few weeks, at least on paper. They host Dartmouth and Marist at Alumni Arena before heading on their Ireland trip.
- UB is the first MAC team to be ranked in AP Poll since Kent State was 23rd in February 2008 (Ohio finished 25th in final Coaches Poll in 2012).
- Buffalo is first Big 4 team ranked since St. Bonaventure was ranked 10th in January 1971.
- The last time a Big 4 team finished the season ranked was 1970 (St. Bonaventure (3rd) and Niagara (17th)).
Next Week: vs. Dartmouth, vs. Marist
Niagara: (2-1), Last Week: Wins over St. Bonaventure & Wyoming, loss to Loyola (Chi.)
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too high on Niagara entering this season. I was encouraged by last year’s record but didn’t know what to expect after losing Co-MAAC Player of the Year Khalil Dukes and Matt Scott.
If last week was any indication, the Purple Eagles will be just fine.
They opened their season on Monday with an impressive win over a shorthanded Bonnies squad, then went on the road and gave last year’s Final Four darling Loyola a battle before upsetting 20+ win Mountain West squad Wyoming in Laramie.
Marvin Prochet and James Towns have taken on the scoring load. Prochet is having a strong start to his season averaging a double-double through three games (19 points, 11 rebounds) while Towns is second on the team, averaging 15 points per game.
- Niagara’s win over Wyoming was their first-ever against a Mountain West opponent
- Prochet is the first Purple Eagle to start the season with three straight double-doubles since Bilal Benn (2009/10).
Next Week: vs. Grambling State, vs. St. Francis (Brooklyn) or IUPUI
Canisius: (1-1), Last Week: Win over Bucknell, Loss to Albany
Neutral stock isn’t good or bad, it’s just blah.
It means that we’ve seen what was expected. Canisius is a very talented team with some dangerous playmakers but they’re always bouncing up and down.
The Griffs got off to a slow start last season before taking off in MAAC play. Through two games this season, they’re showing signs that this year might be similar.
Canisius opened their season on Tuesday with a beatdown of Bucknell but couldn’t maintain those positive vibes in an ugly loss versus Albany on Saturday afternoon.
The Griffs struggled from deep against the Great Danes, shooting 6-30 (20%) behind the arc while allowing Albany to shoot 77.8% in the second half… That’s not a strong recipe for success.
The good news for Canisius, sophomore forward Takal Molson is showing off a nice scoring touch, averaging 24.5 points per game through two contests.
- The 66-points Canisius scored against Albany are the fewest they’ve scored in a game since they put up 62 against Siena on January 7th, 2018 in a 65-62 loss.
- Saturday’s loss against Albany marks the first time a road team has won during their series
- Isaiah Reese saw his seven-game streak of double-digit scoring snapped on Saturday following his six-point outing.
It’s about to get VERY difficult for Canisius this week!
The Griffs next game will be against a ranked Florida State squad on the road. From there, they’ll battle an angry Villanova team in the Advocare Invitational. The Wildcats have already suffered a pair of embarrassing losses this season (blown out against Michigan, upset by Furman).
And depending on how that goes, Canisius will then take on either Memphis or Oklahoma State. Not an easy stretch at all!
Next Week: at Florida State, vs. Villanova, vs. Memphis or Oklahoma State
St. Bonaventure: (1-2), Last Week: Loss to Niagara
It’s been tough sledding for the Bonnies to open the season.
Some of that’s to be expected with Courtney Stockard out of the lineup while recovering from an offseason knee procedure but it’s still disappointing nonetheless.
It was always going to be a rebuilding year for St. Bonaventure. You don’t lose a pair of talented guards like Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley and expect to pick up where you left off.
But, you don’t exactly expect to lose to teams like Bucknell and Niagara without them either.
That said, this will be a season focused on teaching and development for coach Mark Schmidt.
UNLV transfer Jalen Poyser has taken on the primary scoring role, averaging 19 points per game. I expect that continue even when Stockard returns to the lineup.
Freshmen Kyle Lofton, Dominick Welch, Alpha Okoli and Osun Osunniyi have shown lots of potential early on. Look for Schmidt to continue giving them valuable minutes as they’ll be expected to play larger roles going forward.
Lofton is averaging 13.7 points per game while Osunniyi already has 12 blocks and is averaging nine-points per contest.
St. Bonaventure will be taking part in the Cayman Islands Classic this week. They open up Monday versus Georgia State.
- St. Bonaventure will be going up against former player Jordan Tyson when they battle Georgia State on Monday. He played with the Bonnies from 2014-16.
- SBU is expected to be without Courtney Stockard, LaDarien Griffin and possibly Meekisedek Moreaux for the Cayman Islands Classic
Next Week: Cayman Islands Classic, vs. Georgia State, Creighton or Boise State, TBA