Non-Conference roundup

Breaking down Men's basketball key non-conference matchups

b-ball-1

Men’s basketball dominated the Daemen Wildcats 97-50 to open up its season. The Bulls returned to action and displayed exactly why they are the team to beat in the Mid-American Conference this season.

The Bulls boast depth at all positions on the court and have have the potential to be better with the additions of freshman guard Ronaldo Segu and freshman forward Jeenathan Williams. Segu led the team in points and assists on Saturday.

Buffalo will need new and returning players as they have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, matching up with multiple teams expected to make the NCAA tournament in March.

West Virginia Mountaineers, Nov. 9

The Bulls’ first road game of the season is against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Mountaineers made it all the way to the Sweet 16 in last year’s tournament. Head coach Bob Huggins boasts one of the best defenses in the country. Huggins likes to play a full-court press and trap opponents, forcing them into multiple turnovers. The Mountaineers are currently ranked 13th in the country according to the Associated Press and sophomore Sagaba Konate is one of the best shot-blockers in the country.

Southern Illinois Salukis, Nov. 12

The Southern Illinois Salukis not only have one of the best names in college basketball, they also return all five starters from last season. Bustingbrackets.com picked Southern Illinois to place third in the Missouri Valley Conference, the same conference that had last season’s Cinderella team Loyola-Chicago. The Salukis also return their top two scorers in Armon Fletcher and Kavion Pippen. Bulls senior forward Nick Perkins will have all he can handle matching up against Pippen, who stands at 6 feet 10 inches. Bulls head coach Nate Oats might opt to go with a larger center in Montell McRae. These teams match up again in December.

Belfast Hall of Fame Classic, Nov. 30 - Dec. 1

The Bulls travel across the pond to Belfast, Ireland at the end of November to compete in a tournament where they should be the best team and favorite to win. The only guaranteed matchup is against a Milwaukee Panthers team that was picked to finish 8th in the Horizon Conference. The Bulls could potentially play against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks who have been a consistent mid-major powerhouse the last five years. The Lumberjacks led the NCAA in total steals, steals per game and turnovers per game last season.

St. Bonaventure Bonnies, Dec. 8

The Bonnies are not the same team that made the NCAA tournament last season. They lost key players Matt Mobley and Jaylen Adams. This game would be an easy win for the Bulls if it was played at home. Unfortunately, the Bulls will play in the Reilly Center. The spirit of the top NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski is still in the rafters and will do his best to prevent the Bulls from dominating a much weaker opponent.

The Syracuse Orange, Dec. 18

The Bulls get a chance for revenge against the Orange after last season’s loss. Both teams return with fresh faces and more experience for what should be one of the best matchups this season for either side. Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has been dominating New York basketball for what seems like forever, but his team is not perfect. The Bulls need to watch for Tyus Battle who is one of the best returning players in the country. But, Syracuse will not have five-star recruit Darius Bazley who opted to cancel his enrollment and prepare for the NBA instead. 

Marquette Golden Eagles, Dec. 21

Buffalo closes out its non-conference schedule against a Big East foe that ranks only behind national champion Villanova in the conference. Markus Howard will give Buffalo guards trouble, but the Bulls have two of the top defensive guards in the MAC with junior Davonta Jordan and senior Dontay Caruthers. Sophomore guard Jayvon Graves will need to step up after leading the team in blocks last season. 

Nathaniel Mendelson is the sports editor and can be reached at nathaniel.mendelson@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @NateMendelson