Teams: Syracuse Orange (9-1) vs. Buffalo Bulls (7-3)
Day & Time: Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
TV/Streaming: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Radio: Syracuse IMG Network, WAER 88.3, Sirius 93/XM 193
Buffalo blog: UB Bull Run
Rivalry: 27-5, Syracuse leads
Current Streak: 17, Orange
First Meeting: Eventual (Helms Foundation) national champions Syracuse went on the on the road against Buffalo in early January of 1918, grabbing a convincing 30-17 victory. Given transportation options at the time, it’s likely that wasn’t the easy trip it is today. Joe Schwarzer led the way for Ed Dollard’s 16-1 SU team, scoring 14 points in the win that day.
Last Meeting: Despite the teams being close enough geographically, Jim Boeheim hasn’t scheduled Buffalo much. He typically plays more private schools when looking for in-state foes, which is why these two teams haven’t met since 2001. Syracuse won that most recent game 83-62 at the Carrier Dome, behind a 22-point performance from Preston Shumpert. The Bulls were smothered by SU, as you might have guessed.
Head Coaches: SU: Jim Boeheim (42nd year, 1,013-358); Buffalo: Nate Oats (3rd year, 44-33)
Coach Bio: Oats played for Marantha Baptist (DII) in the mid 90s, then jumped right into being an assistant coach there. After four years, he was off to Wisconsin-Whitewater (DIII), then grabbed his first head coaching gig at Romulus High School in Michigan. Bobby Hurley liked what he saw after a successful 11-year stint at Romulus, bringing him on as an assistant at Buffalo in 2013. Oats took over when Hurley left for Arizona State in 2015. He made the NCAA Tournament in his first season at Buffalo, though missed it in his second try.
Last Year: As a top-three seed in the MAC, Buffalo had a chance to make a third straight NCAA Tournament by winning the conference title. However, they lost in round one to Kent State, falling to 17-15 with zero chance at an at-large bid. The Bulls’ challenging non-conference schedule slowed them down early and they just never recovered.
Last Game: Buffalo started fast against Robert Morris, then just kept pouring it on. The Bulls won 86-70, with C.J. Massinburg scoring 23 to lead all scorers. Five different Bulls players scored in double-digits, though, and the team also out-rebounded RMU by 10 on the night. Buffalo shot over 50 percent from the field and near-40 percent from three. Needless to say, they’re a quality group.
"Fear Me, I've Killed Hundreds of Timelords": C.J. Massinburg is a lethal threat with the ball (or without). The guard averages 20 points per game, with 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists. He’s a 47-percent shooter from three and a 50-percent shooter from the field. Don’t leave him alone or this could get problematic very quickly.
If Syracuse Wins: Syracuse keeps the momentum going and earns win No. 10 on the year. Considering last year’s slow start with a veteran team, a quick sprint to begin this season with younger players is pretty encouraging. SU is supposed to beat Buffalo, sure. But perceptively “better” teams have been tripped up by lesser foes before.
If Syracuse Loses: Dammit. Not at all what we needed with a very tough conference slate still out ahead of us.
Fun Fact No. 1: Syracuse freshman Howard Washington is actually from Buffalo, and was offered by the Bulls out of high school. He never committed to Buffalo, but he did commit to Butler before pledging to the Orange.
Fun Fact No. 2: Former Buffalo coach Bobby Hurley has plenty of casual links to Syracuse by way of Coach K at Duke. Jim Boeheim also coached Hurley as part of Team USA at the 1990 Goodwill Games (Boeheim was an assistant on that team).