The Buffalo Bulls men’s basketball team has been on quite a little run as of late, winning the MAC tournament, and making the NCAA tournament 2 of the last three years under head coach Nate Oats. They also won the MAC in Bobby Hurley’s last season, making it three out of the last four. Then last season the Bulls knocked off a three seed in traditional power Arizona, which some could see as a culmination of these successes. They could be wrong.
Every year, I tune into an early Bulls game, hoping to see something special. The first couple of years under Oates, I would see a team chucking up threes early, and playing some defense. Maybe make the second rotation on D, maybe not. Drive to the basket before chucking up a jumper that will always be there? Probably not. I would be disappointed, because the talent was there to be something special. An analogy would be seeing a bulking hulk looking guy enter the gym, and seeing him put up tree-fidy on the bench. Sure, it’s way more than I could ever do, and exceptionally impressive, but I want to see something unique. Early last season was more of the same, but about midway through, the team started doing a better job at both ends of the court. Even though they weren’t always hitting those drives to the basket, the effort was there, as it was on the defensive end. The culmination of last season was an ass kicking of the Wildcats, which was something special.
This season could be even better.
The Bulls return 4 of their top 5 scorers from a year ago, including the top three. While this is a lovely asset to any team at any time, what makes it really special is that they are all seniors. My love for this team goes deeper than that. This team has good balance, and the athletic ability to match up with some of the “major” programs. The back court, which is probably the strength, includes C.J. Massinburg, a complete 6’3 guard that could play anywhere. Jeremy Harris is a 6’7 swing man that can light it up from outside, and Dontay Caruthers is a 6’1 speed demon that does the dirty work.
The front court is based around Nick Perkins, who can play bigger than his 6’8 height, but can also step outside. The young Brock Bertram has shown some potential, while Montell McRae is yet another senior that can give legit minutes.
All of this lead me to predict Buffalo will have a great team this season. Then I saw their schedule. Syracuse, Saint Bonnie, West Virginia, Marquette, and Canisius. Throw a couple of key wins from this out of conference schedule in with that upset of Arizona last season, and a 24ish win Buffalo team could very well be dancing come March.
I am not going to guarantee it at this point, but I would not be shocked if the Bulls and Ball State are both dancing at the end of this season. Like the ladies last season, Two Bid League might be in play.