Top-50 Team Countdown: #44.Buffalo Bulls
2017-18 season outlook
Last year the Bulls won the MAC outright, won the league tournament and upset Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bulls started the year 4-3, losing close games to Cincinnati, South Dakota State, and St. Bonaventure. The Bulls lost two more games to Syracuse and Texas A&M in non-conference play, which made them enter MAC play at 8-5. The Bulls started MAC play rolling, winning their first eight games in conference play and taking a commanding lead in the conference standings. The Bulls hit somewhat of a rough patch following that, losing 3 of their next 7 games to drop to 12-3 in conference play. The Bulls then finished the regular season winning their last three games, which won them the MAC outright with a record of 15-3. The Bulls then beat Central Michigan, Kent State, and Toledo to win the MAC Conference Tournament and secure their spot in the NCAA Tournament. In the Tournament the Bulls matched up with 4th seeded Arizona, they won that game very handily by a score of 89-68. The Bulls kept it close with Kentucky in the second round but in the end, the Wildcats pulled away to win 95-75, which ended the Bulls season. The Bulls had four players average between 15 and 17 points per game last year, which just showed the Bulls consistency and ability to have one player step up on any occasion.
The Bulls once again will have a decent schedule, as they will play some quality opponents in non-conference play. The Bulls open the season at home against St. Francis (PA), before they head to West Virginia to play the Mountaineers. The Bulls play a few more easy games before traveling to Belfast to play in the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic. The Bulls will also play road games at St. Bonaventure, Syracuse, and Marquette before non-conference play is up. The Bulls open conference play January 4th at Eastern Michigan, they will play an 18-game schedule that concludes with a home game against Bowling Green. The Bulls will play in the MAC Conference tournament and if they win that they should go to the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulls return a lot of scoring from last years team, as CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris all averaged over 15 points per game last year. I expect the Bulls to be led by Massinburg, who was great at scoring from all areas of the court while being a good rebounder. Nick Perkins should continue to be a force down low, as he should continue to be a good player at the five. Jeremy Harris should continue to be a mismatch for some teams, as he is a lethal shooter from deep, while also being a good player inside on defense. Davonta Jordan should start at the point guard position and be an elite level passer at the MAC level. Other players like Jayvon Graves, Dontay Caruthers, and Montell McRae should continue to be good supporting cast members. Recruits Ranaldo Segu and Jeenathan Williams both should get some minutes as a freshman and could help this team depth wise this season.
What to expect
The Bulls have set this team up to where they are undoubtedly the favorite to win the MAC, as they have so much talent on their team. The Bulls do have a tough schedule in non-conference play, as they will play at West Virginia, Marquette, and Syracuse, however, this team is good enough to give them a scare. The Bulls should be able to take care of the rest of the teams on their non-conference schedule, allowing them to enter conference play with a record of 10-3. In MAC play, the Bulls should dominate by going around 16-2 in league play, which will win them the league outright. The Bulls should win the MAC conference tournament, which would likely get them into the NCAA Tournament as a 12 seed. Assuming they are able to win the league tournament, they are a dangerous team, that could pull off a couple of upsets and advance to the Sweet 16 if things break right for them.
PG: Davonta Jordan
SG: Jayvon Graves
SF: CJ Massinburg
PF: Jeremy Harris
C: Nick Perkins
Key Reserves: Dontay Caruthers, Montell McRae, Ranaldo Segu, Jeenathan Williams
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