Sometimes the running joke simply has to be a joke and nothing else, as Buffalo Men's Soccer, fresh off an appearance in the MAC Championship Game and returning seven seniors and eight juniors, has been slated for fourth in the MAC in the conference's preseason coaches poll. It's UB's usual spot across all sports, but it's not usually as much of an insult as it is this time.
Granted, UB used some late heroics in both the regular season and the postseason last year to make the final, and the difference between second and fourth in the poll is only two votes, but it's hard to imagine anyone not looking at UB as a team that's trending up in the conference, and somebody had to vote WMU, or worse, WVU above them.
You don't have to take my word for it, either. Former AK-Rowdy and Zips superfan Ian Tayek assures me I'm not crazy:
@UBBullRun buffalo is prolly the 2nd best team in the conference as well....gotta love preseason polls— #RollTribe (@AK_BigChief) August 23, 2016
Anyway, there's no guarantee that this doesn't come to pass, especially with the volatility of a short season in a small conference and the dominating spectre that is #2-ranked Akron, but it is baffling and verging on you-ate-a-whole-wheel-of-cheese-I'm-not-even-mad-I'm-impressed territory, even considering the somewhat-snubs UB received in the All-MAC teams last year, when only Cicerone, Marcus Hanson, and Nick Forrester represented the Bulls in the postseason awards.
In addition to reigning MAC POTY Russell Cicerone, Forrester returns, as does the entire 2015 starting lineup with the exception of Marcus Hanson. Other than his replacement, freshman forward Rikard Lindqvist, who's impressed us in UB's exhibition slate, Buffalo's starting lineup will consist entirely of upperclassmen.
The full poll:
Men's Soccer Preseason Coaches' Poll Results
Akron - 29 total points (5 first place votes)
Western Michigan - 17 (1)
West Virginia - 16
Buffalo - 15
Bowling Green - 11
Northern Illinois - 2
MAC Tournament Champion: Akron