The Bulls are back inland and ready for some more basketball! Coming off the Cayman Island Classic in which the Bulls played well despite a 1-2 record, they now have to head across town to Niagara. This should be a well played game this year as this is not your father’s Niagara team. The Purple Eagles have already defeated St. Bonaventure this year in a shock to the entire state.
So how do the Bulls match up today? As far as size is concerned, the Bulls will tower over the Eagles, even if Brock Bertram is not back from injury. Dominic Robb, the starting center for the Eagles comes in at just 6’8. This will provide the chance for the Bulls to bang inside, mainly Nick Perkins. Defensively, Niagara is one of the worst in the country coming in ranked 282 overall. Mixed with a fast tempo, and I think the Bulls will be able to expose them with their athleticism.
Buffalo will need to continue to attack the rim, something they found success with in the Cayman Islands. I’m looking for Dontay Caruthers to continue his aggressive play and keep looking to score. I’m looking for the Bulls to improve on perimeter defense as teams are shooting a shocking 42% from three against UB. If the Bulls can defend the perimeter during this game, I don’t see many issues coming from the NU attack. Here’s a few specifics to keep your eye out for.
What to Watch For
Can UB assert themselves early
The Bulls have gotten off to hot starts in every game this year minus SDSU. In a cross town match up on the road, it’s important to take the home crowd out of the game as quick as possible. In a small arena like Niagara’s sound carries well, and if the Buffalo fans can bring the energy, the Bulls should be able to establish themselves as the better team.
Both Jayvon Graves and James Reese have had flashes of their potential. As the season continues to move on, I’m looking forward to them starting to get more comfortable at the higher level and perform. I sense break out moments coming very soon for the young guys. Look for them to make a bit of an impact tonight.
McCrae has struggled this year with his physicality. It’s no shock that he isn’t the strongest guy on the court, but he needs to start attacking the boards. I saw hints of this at the end of the SDSU game, mainly after Nate Oats laid in to him on the bench. If McCrae can find his aggressive side and start utilizing his height, I see him becoming sort of a Kadiri type player.
I think the Bulls win. But I think it’s closer than we want for a few reasons. For starters, like I said about Canisius, local games are tight. Always will be due to players giving a little bit more to prove you’re the best around. Also, I think the Bulls may get caught thinking about Saturday against the Bonnies a little bit. If the Bulls stay focused, I think they run NU out of their little arena, but if they get caught sleeping, expect a close game. As always I hope whoever can makes it out to the game and of course, go Bulls!