We’re a few months removed from the end of the 2018-19 college basketball season and some news about next year’s schedule is already starting to surface. Here’s what we know:
October 24: The Bulls will kick off the men’s basketball season with their annual match-up against Division II Daemen College. This match-up will be a good test for UB after losing a lot of senior leadership and talent to graduation in 2019. Daemen returns 10 players and 4 starters from a team that was ranked for much of last season. Among the starters returning for Daemen is 6’9” second-team All-American center Andrew Sischo. The inexperienced UB front-court will be tested right out of the gate trying to contain Sischo.
November 16: Jon Rothstein reported that there would be an event held in Toronto this year hosted by the Hall of Fame that would include a MAC team:
Source: The Hall-of-Fame will be holding a one-day preseason event in Toronto on November 16th at Scotiabank Center. Teams will be from the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Ivy League, and MAC. Matchups are TBD.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) April 11, 2019
As Akron’s four fans love to say “Buffalo’s in Canada”, so early speculation was that Buffalo could be that MAC team. Per @TheD1Docket on Twitter, an account that gathers schedule info via Freedom of Information Act requests, and public releases, the Bulls will be the MAC representative taking on the Ivy League representative, Harvard. Additionally the event will feature a contest between St. Bonaventure and Rutgers, and a match-up between Washington and Tennessee.
This event is great for Buffalo to spread their brand in a nearby basketball talent hotbed where basketball is continually growing in popularity. Harvard is also a solid matchup to add to the non-conference schedule. They could be a potential at-large contender returning their entire team after finishing 19-11 last season. Harvard also gets former Ivy League Player of the Year, Seth Towns back from an injury that kept him out all of last season.
November 21, 22, 24: The Charleston Classic is one of the premier early season tournaments, and Buffalo gets a chance to play this year after being invited when Penn State dropped out. This event guarantees the Bulls three more quality OOC match-ups. While preseason rankings are not perfect (especially with rosters still fluid), it can provide a ballpark estimation of how the field will stack up per barttorvik.com:
107.) Missouri State
287.) Saint Joseph’s
Update: 7/11 - It’s been confirmed by the Athletic department that UB will be playing UConn in a bracket that also includes Xavier and Towson.
November 30th: A home game against William and Mary of the Colonial Athletic Association.
December 3: The Bulls are taking a trip to play Vanderbilt. It will mark the first ever meeting of the teams as the Bulls hope to get their first ever win against an SEC squad. A win over this SEC squad would likely be bigger in name than in actuality. Vanderbilt lost two players to the NBA from a team that went 9-23 and lost to Kent State at home. Nonetheless this game presents an opportunity to add an SEC team to a list of high majors defeated in recent seasons that includes Arizona, Arizona State, Syracuse, and West Virginia.
This is a good time for the game, it gives the team plenty of time to get used to the new lineup before taking on Vandy.
December 14: Army is coming to town (update 9/5)
Buffalo had been looking for confirmed 1:1 dates with the first game in Buffalo. It’s being reported by TBN that Army will playing at Buffalo on December 14th
Also, here are confirmed dates for UB’s nonconference men’s basketball schedule, so far: pic.twitter.com/5P1giFj5uS— Rachel Lenzi (@rachelmlenzi) September 4, 2019
December 18: Canisius released their non-conference schedule today (7/17), and confirmed beliefs that the annual Big 4 series would continue, this year in Alumni Arena. This game is the first confirmed home match-up for the Bulls. Last season, the Bulls topped the Golden Griffins 87-72 on the road (technically). Like the Bulls, Canisius will be looking to replace a lot of production with their two top players Isaiah Reese (turned pro), and Takal Molson (transfer to Seton Hall) leaving the program as well as seniors Jonathan Sanks and Jibreel Faulkner graduating. The Golden Griffins do return third team all-MAAC PG Malik Johnson as well as a lot of their front-court minutes in the form of Scott Hitchon, Jalanni White, and Dantai St. Louis, which will be something to monitor when they match up with Buffalo’s inexperienced front-court.
Confirmed Games, Unannounced Dates:
In this article from The Athletic, three more games were confirmed without dates.
Dartmouth: We know this game will be the home opener but we don’t yet have a date. The wording in the article calling it the “home opener” rather than the “season opener” means it’s possible that the Bulls have a road game to open the regular season. That likely places this game somewhere after the start of the season (11/5) but before the game vs. Harvard in Toronto (11/16). Dartmouth is the second Ivy League time to land on the Bulls schedule this season, and they return to Alumni Arena after a 110-71 loss last season. Fortunately for Dartmouth they are set to return their entire roster other than Guilien Smith who only played 21% of minutes last season for the Big Green. Dartmouth’s continuity is a major advantage heading into an early season match-up with the Bulls who have a lot of roster turnover.
Niagara: The Buffalo-Niagara Big 4 rivalry is set to return this season after a one year hiatus and the date and venue aren’t the only unclear thing about this match-up. The Purple Eagles only have 4 returning players that saw action last season, and they have a new coach in former Le Moyne coach Patrick Beilein. Bulls fans remember that Beilein’s D2 Le Moyne squad pushed UB last season, going into halftime tied before the Bulls pulled away to win 89-55.
St. Bonaventure: The Bulls will likely get the St. Bonaventure Bonnies at home this season, in the return game of this Big 4 series. The Bonnies could end up being a top-100 team this season with the return of stud rising sophomores Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi. The Bonnies weren’t without offseason losses though, graduation took senior leaders Courtney Stockard, LaDarien Griffin, and Nelson Kaputo, and Jalen Poyser transferred. This year’s match-up figures to be close after the Bulls took last year’s match-up 80-62 in Olean, and the Bulls will look to capitalize on a potential resume builder at home.
Season Opener (?): As mentioned in the Dartmouth section, it’s possible that the season opener is on the road. The past handful of years the Bulls have primarily only traveled for games against high major teams, and Big 4 games. The Canisius game is already confirmed to be at home, and the St. Bonaventure series should return to Alumni Arena this year after being played in Olean last season. Niagara hasn’t visited Alumni Arena since 2014 so it would be nice to see Niagara visit UB, however it’s unclear how that will play out after the series was discontinued by ex-Niagara coach Chris Casey last season.
Game to be Scheduled: The article mentions the Bulls are still looking for another game, so it may be a while before the full schedule is released. The article suggests that Coach Whitesell is looking to fill that slot with a buy game against a high major or a home-and-home series against a “quality opponent”.
Basketball Travelers Scheduling Board:
Post #1: “Buffalo is Looking for a H/H Series. Currently flexible on dates” (4/11)
Post #2: “Buffalo is looking for 2 home competitive guaranteed games, we can be flexible on dates.” (4/11)
Post #3: “Buffalo is Looking for a H/H Need to start in Buffalo, Return at your place!” (4/22)
Post #4: “Buffalo is looking for a H/H game - Dates we are looking for are; Nov 30th, Dec 3rd, Dec 7th.” (5/9)
Post #5: “Buffalo is looking for a game on Dec 14th. H/H Starting on the road.” (5/22)
We will keep an eye out to see if these materialize into any exciting match-ups. Check back on this post as we will keep it up to date with schedule news as it comes out.