THE BULLS KEEP CLIMBING!!!
Buffalo checking in at #⃣1⃣4⃣in the latest @AP_Top25 Poll. That is the highest ranking by a @MACSports team in over 40 years#UBhornsUP | #UBLegendary pic.twitter.com/lhCK3QSI9L
— UB Men’s Basketball (@UBmenshoops) December 10, 2018
Syracuse (7-3) is unranked this week and received no votes in either of the national polls after a 68-62 home loss to Old Dominion on Saturday. The Orange was 25th in the AP poll last week.
One reason coach Nate Oats and the Bulls have to be wary is the success Syracuse has had against ranked opponents over the years, especially in the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse is 92-129 since the AP basketball poll was instituted against teams ranked No. 14 or higher when they faced the Orange. Over the years, Syracuse is 7-5 against No. 14 teams, with four wins when the Orange was not ranked. In the Dome, Syracuse is 3-2 against No. 14.
Buffalo is the first nonconference ranked team to play Syracuse in the Carrier Dome since No. 8 Villanova lost to the No. 2 Orange, 78-62, Dec. 18, 2013. That was a Syracuse team that ended up in the NCAA Final Four.
An unranked Syracuse team has not hosted a ranked nonconference opponent since No. 17 Oklahoma visited the Dome on Jan. 7, 1984. The Sooners won, 98-91.
The highest ranked team to face Syracuse in the Dome was North Carolina with Michael Jordan. The Tar Heels were ranked No. 1 and defeated the Orange, 94-67 on Dec. 10, 1983.
Going back before the Dome opened for the 1980-81 season, No. 16 Niagara lost to an unranked Syracuse 82-79 on Dec. 12, 1956.
Another reason to be wary is the Syracuse dominance all-time against Buffalo. The Orange has a 28-5 advantage in the series. Three of the Buffalo wins came during the 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons before the Dave Bing era began a resurgence of Syracuse basketball that has lasted to this day. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was a teammate of Bing.
Besides the patented Boeheim zone defense, the Bulls will have to be prepared for a taller opponent in the paint. That includes 7-foot-2 senior Paschal Chuku, the tallest player in Syracuse basketball history who averaged 5.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and blocked 91 shots in 37 starts last season.
Syracuse is led by junior guard Tyus Battle, who is averaging 18.5 points. A 6-foot-6 guard, Battle had 23 points in the loss to Old Dominion. Oshae Brissett, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Mississauga, Ont., is averaging 14.9. Elijah Hughes, a junior transfer from East Carolina is averaging 14.3.
They will have to deal with an experienced and deep Buffalo team led by guard CJ Massinburg (17.1 ppg), sixth man Nick Perkins, senior guard Jeremy Harris (12.6) and veteran guard Davonta Jordan (7.6), 6-10 Montell McRae (6.9), Jayvon Graves (10.7) and defensive ace Dontay Caruthers (7.1).
This article is written by Milt Northrop from The Buffalo News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.