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Buffalo Bulls at Arlington Mavericks: Prestige comes with taking winnable games

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

During the Sunday lunch hour UB had the attention of the basketball world.

There were 13 minutes left at Rupp Arena and the New York Bulls were beating the mighty Kentucky Wildcats! Many Buffalo faithful started tuning in, eager to see a breakout victory for the program.

Of course that victory did not come. Kentucky found their footing and turned a two point deficit to a 19 point victory. The watershed win eluded Buffalo. It was a fun game to watch and UB, a team that lost a ton of star power last year, acquitted themselves well. In the end though the Kentucky match is not a game people will be talking about come March.

If the Bulls are going to become a team people talk about it is not going to happen in one huge game. Even if the Bulls had held on and upset the Wildcats a loss today would erase all of the positive press that would have come out of that victory.

It's the UT Arlingtons of the world that we should be worried about beating, not Kentucky or Wisconsin.

Last season UB lost out-of-conference games to Canisius, Niagara, and Manhattan. Each loss was to a team we should have beat and each loss had its own character.

Falling behind right off the bat - If it were a movie "The Debt"

Niagara blew UB out from the onset. The Purps were able to build up a big lead in the early stages of the first half. Try as they might UB could not get closer to four points from their Big Four rival. It seemed as if Niagara had a parry for every thrust the Bulls threw at them.

How much different could that game have been if UB is not down by 14 at the half?

Going to sleep and losing - If it were a move "Nightmare On Elm Street"

UB played the Griffs at the First Niagara Center last season. For most of the contest the Bulls had the Stiffs over a barrel. The Bulls were up by 11 points early in the second half, and really the game seemed to be even more of a blowout that the score indicated.

Then it started. With a win nearly secured the team checked out. Once they took their foot off the gas they could not find it and 10 minutes later the Bulls surrendered their lead.

To make things worse over the last four minutes of the game UB failed to score a point. The game did end up a blowout; UB was just on the wrong side.

Having Victory Snatched Away in the last minute - If it were a movie "Gone In 60 Seconds"

While UB's football team was in Idaho playing in a bowl game the basketball team was in New York City playing Manhattan. With 16 seconds left UB was up by three but the Jaspers got three free throws on a foul beyond the arc. Then in over time they pulled away from Buffalo.

The next step for the UB Basketball program is not going to be a "shock the world" upset. It's going to be winning these under-card games nearly every time. The Bulls had a real shot at entering conference play last season with a strong 9-1 record. Instead they limped in with a 6-4 mark.

This year I would say 8 of their 13 are games UB has no excuse to lose. Two games are contests that the team would need a miracle to win, and the remaining three are games that may be too close to call. Assuming UB could steal one of the games in that final category that would be a 9-4 mark. For a rebuilding team that would be a solid slate.

But it starts tonight with UT Arlington. This is one of those games UB needs to win if they want to push for 9 or 10 victories out of conference.

Go Bulls!