Balling in Belfast

Men’s basketball heads to Ireland for Belfast Classic

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The Bulls are trading one cold city for another to compete in Belfast, Northern Ireland for two games in the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic. No. 21 Buffalo enters the game looking for its first non-conference tournament win with Nate Oats as head coach.

Buffalo will enter the four-team “Goliath Bracket,” as it plays the Milwaukee Panthers (2-4) in the first round. The San Francisco Dons (6-0) will play the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (4-1) in the first round later on Friday, to determine who will play in the championship game on Saturday.

Senior guard CJ Massinburg continues to impress this season, with sophomore guard Jayvon Graves contributing as a scoring option with recent performances. Massinburg averages 20.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game. Graves averages 12.6 points a game and had a strong outing against Dartmouth (3-3) over Thanksgiving week. Both players shoot around 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.

The Panthers come in off back-to-back wins, after starting the season 0-4. The team is inconsistent scoring and will have a tough matchup against Buffalo. Stephen F. Austin has looked solid this season, but has struggled against tough competition. The Lumberjacks lost to the Miami Hurricanes (5-1) 96-58.

The San Francisco Dons remain the biggest question mark in the tournament. The Dons beat solid teams in blowouts this season, remaining undefeated. Despite any quality wins yet, the most likely championship matchup will be Buffalo vs. San Francisco.

The championship is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. EST, at the SSE Arena.

The sports desk can be reached at sports@ubspectrum.com