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Preview: Bulls will square off with Pitt in hopes to clean up previous mistakes

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NCAA Basketball: Buffalo at Creighton Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting at an even 4-4 record, Buffalo Bulls Men’s Basketball looks to get things squared away before non-conference ends. Although they aren’t as strong as Creighton or Xavier, the Bulls will be facing a tough Pittsburgh team. If the Bulls can somehow pull out this win, it would be a statement to the rest of the Mid-American Conference.

Pitt found themselves in a bind last season when long time head coach Jamie Dixon took the job at TCU. The Panthers then hired long time Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings. An upgrade for Stallings as the SEC is weakening in basketball.

The Panthers are coming off of an NCAA Tournament berth from last season and look to do the same this year. They’ve had a strong start at 6-2 with a loss to a quality SMU team and a bad loss to Duquesne in their most recent outing.

Bulls fans should keep their eye out for a trio of players that could dominate on any given night. Michael Young is a 6-9 forward who currently averages 23 points and 8 rebounds a game. This is going to be a huge challenge for Nick Perkins to defend as this is a stretch forward who can also shoot the three ball. Pay attention to Jamel Artis and Cameron Johnson as they average 19.7 and 11.5 points per game respectively.

What to watch for

1. Buffalo should push the pace

Pitt is one of the slower teams in the country in terms of tempo. Buffalo could really benefit from being the one that controls the pace of play and keep the Panthers outside of their comfort zone.

2. Amount of turnovers should be lower today

It’s partly due to the way they play, but Pitt is the fourth worst team in the country at forcing turnovers. The biggest issue the Bulls have faced is keeping control of the ball and this should help level the playing field a little more for the Bulls as they try to get back to playing some clean ball.

3. Davonta Jordan

We saw his best and worst game as a Bull in his most recent showing versus St. Bonaventure. Jordan had a nice contribution of 9 points, and 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Although those are all great, he did commit 5 turnovers and foul out of the game. We’ll see if Davonta can put up a similar performance that doesn’t have turnovers and fouls.

4. Can Buffalo find ways to the line?

Pitt is really stingy and doesn’t give up too many costly fouls. Their one of the best teams in the country at keeping teams from the charity stripe—a stat that Buffalo doesn’t want to see. This is going to be one of the bigger challenges that the Bulls need to overcome for the win and I think pushing the pace will help in that.

Bottom Line

Buffalo isn’t expected to win this game but they can definitely salvage a lot of positives even if they lose. If we saw a game with 15 turnovers or less here, it’s a win in my book because the Bulls just need to be ready for the MAC at this point since they aren’t going to build an at-large resume with these last five games. I’m going to give the Bulls a 25% chance to pull this one out but I’ll predict a 77-68 win for Pitt.