The second year of the Bobby Hurley era begins after a strong start in his rookie season as a head coach. The Bulls went 19-10 (13-5) but lost to Eastern Michigan in the quarterfinal of the MAC Tournament. This year will be a huge change as four-year stalwart Javon McCrea has graduated and moved on to trying out in the professional ranks. Point guards Jarod Oldham and Josh Freelove are gone as well, but heralded recruit Lamontre Bearden looks like the one to lead the charge as a true freshman.
The schedule sets up nicely for the Bulls, with just the right amount of Power Six schools, good mid-majors, and minimal bad apples. They'll be living on a plane for the latter part of November, but almost all of their December road games are quick bus rides. Five New York based schools are on the schedule. If Buffalo can beat those teams, that can become a recruiting tool as they can claim best mid-major in the state laurels.
November 14th - South Dakota State (19-13), RPI: 142, Ken Pom 133
This game was cancelled last year when a nasty snow storm hit the Western New York area. The Jackrabbits are known for their NCAA Tournament appearance two years ago behind stellar point guard Nate Wolters who's now with the Milwaukee Bucks. They took a bit of a drop off last year but still make the postseason, bowing out in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. The Jacks lose leading scorers Brayden Carlson and Jordan Dykstra but bring back Florida transfer Cody Larson who averaged a little over thirteen points per game last year. This is a fantastic opener for the Bulls and will provide an early indication of what this year's Buffalo team could be like.
November 16th - at Kentucky (29-11), RPI: 16, Ken Pom: 11
What a way to start off the season. While the Wildcats lose James Young and Julius Randle to the NBA, they still return the Harrison twins and are bringing in another stellar recruiting class. Last seasons' runners-up will surely be a top ten team next year. At least the Bulls will enjoy the nice payday they'll be getting.
November 18th - at Texas-Arlington (15-17), RPI: 200, Ken Pom: 215
Two straight road games are tough, especially when one is in Kentucky and the next one is in Texas. The Mavericks were just okay last year, getting close to .500 in a decent mid-major league (Sun Belt). This season could be a bit more of a struggle, as the Mavs are losing 36 points per game with Reger Dowell and Brandon Edwards graduating. Upcoming seniors Lonnie McClanahan and Jamel Outer scored over ten points per game last year but the rest of the team struggled.
November 21st - Montana State (14-17), RPI: 274, Ken Pom: 308
Montana State has toiled in mediocrity for a long time, finishing better than .500 just once in the last ten years. While the Bobcats inched close to a winning record their performance was pretty poor, which you can see in the RPI and Ken Pom rankings. Adding on to that they lose their top two scorers and the best player returning only averaged nine points per game. This should be a nice rest between tough road games.
November 25th - at Grand Canyon (15-15), RPI: 205, Ken Pom: 241
Known more for their head coach than their school, Grand Canyon played their first season as a Division I basketball member last season. The man in charge is former NBA player "Thunder" Dan Majerle, who played for the nearby Phoenix Suns. While the record is impressive for Year One, keep in mind the Antelopes play in one of the worst conferences in the nation and picked up a few wins over non-Division I competition. Being on the road makes it tough, especially with it being the fourth road game in ten days. That's a lot of back-and-forth travel, so it wouldn't be shocking if Buffalo were to drop this one due to travel-weariness.
November 29th - Canisius (21-13), RPI: 98, Ken Pom: 122
The battle of Buffalo continues for another year at The First Niagara Center, home of the Buffalo Sabres. The Golden Griffins took down Buffalo last year, winning 69-55 in the same venue. Billy Baron, the coach's son and one of the best scorers in the nation is gone and is playing in the NBA Summer League with the Chicago Bulls. The other two players who averaged over ten points last year have graduated as well. While last year Canisius was able to make the postseason (CIT), this year could be another story.
December 3rd - at St. Bonaventure (18-15), RPI: 89, Ken Pom: 85
The second of five New York teams on the Bulls schedule are the Bonnies, who despite having a decent record playing in a good conference did not participate in the postseason last year. They should be pretty good again though as they return four solid players and only lose leading scorers Matthew Wright and Charlon Kloof. Buffalo beat the Bonnies last year at Alumni Arena 78-73, so St. Bonaventure will be looking for payback.
December 7th - at Robert Morris (22-14), RPI: 135, Ken Pom: 162
The road trip continues south to Moon Township, Pennsylvania where the Bulls will face Northeast Conference Regular Season Champion and NIT Number One Seed Slayer Robert Morris. Bobby Mo has always been sneaky good, but never really good. They'll lose leading scorer Karvel Anderson but return some solid talent. Buffalo beat the Colonials last year 81-66, which was one of the best wins of the year for the Bulls.
December 16th - Drexel (16-14), RPI: 131, Ken Pom: 134
The series with Drexel is fantastic for Buffalo. The Dragons are a solid mid-major who have name recognition, and last year the Bulls got some credit for taking down a good team. Frantz Massenat and Chris Fouch are gone, which leaves junior Tavon Allen and senior Damion Lee leading the charge. This will be a good team next year and a tough team for the Bulls to take out.
December 19th - Niagara (7-26), RPI: 299, Ken Pom: 271
The tour of bad New York teams starts off with local rival Niagara. Do-everything playmaker Antoine Mason transferred off to Auburn, and when you take the best player off of a bad team, the future isn't bright. The Purple Eagles actually beat Buffalo early last year, so I'm sure the Bulls will remember that one.
December 28th - at Wisconsin (30-8), RPI: 6, Ken Pom: 6
The second Final Four team on the Bulls' schedule is the Badgers and they'll be loaded again this season. The preseason Big Ten favorites feature some of the best players in the country in Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky. It'll be tough for Buffalo to keep this one close, especially in a hostile environment.
December 30th - at Binghamton (7-23), RPI: 323, Ken Pom: 333
Binghamton hasn't been good in years and is another New York team with a lot of work to do (including the next team). They're really young as their top four scorers were freshmen and sophomores last season. The Bearcats may be a little better next year but Buffalo should be able to easily take care of them.
January 3rd - Cornell (2-26), RPI: 334, Ken Pom: 341
Cornell was unusually really really bad last year. Like, one of the worst teams in the country bad. The Big Red can't seem to get back to the level they were at when Steve Donohue was the coach and was making NCAA Tournaments. It got so bad that leading scorer Nolan Cressler skipped town and transferred to Vanderbilt. It might be another ugly season for Cornell.
Average RPI: 173 / Average Ken Pom: 181
Non-Conference Schedule Ranking (2 of 12):
1. Buffalo (181.69)
2. Kent State (207.69)