It's been a good month for college basketball in Western New York. The region's eight Division I basketball teams, men and women, have a combined 37-17 record so far in January.
None has been more successful than the University at Buffalo's teams, who are a combined 11-1.
Best of all is the 6-0 mark the UB men have put up in January. Coach Nate Oats' Bulls, off to their best conference ever in Mid-American Conference play, will go after their seventh straight MAC win when Eastern Michigan comes to Alumni Arena tonight.
UB (14-5) has won seven in a row, counting their the nonconference victory over NJIT on Dec. 28. Last time UB won eight straight was at the end of the 2014-15 season when they won their last six regular season games and their first two in the MAC Tournament on the way to its first MAC title.
Eastern comes in with an 11-8 record, and is only 2-4 in conference play after a 72-66 loss to Ohio on Saturday. However, the Eagles never are an easy out despite the Bulls' 4-2 record agaisnt them the last four seasons.
Coach Rob Murphy is a former assistant at Syracuse, and the Eagles, just like the Orange, are know for their zone defense. Eastern leads the conference in scoring defense, allowing 62.9 a game. An off shooting night from outside can leave an opponent ripe for an upset by EMU. It happened to UB in the 2014 MAC Tournament.
On Monday, Nick Perkins of the Bulls was named MAC East Division Player of the Week. The fourth week in a row and the sixth time in eight weeks that a UB player was selected for the honors. For Perkins, it's the second time in three weeks.
Perkins averaged 22.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Bulls' victories over Northern Illinois and at Western Michigan. He tied his career high with 26 points against Northern.
Eastern Michigan has three players averaging over 15.6 points per game, led by Elijah Minnie (16-5), Paul Jackson (15.7) and James Thompson IV (15.6. Thompson, a 6-10, 240-pound junior, leads the MAC in rebounding at 11.6 per game.
For the record: Canisius and Niagara teams are each 9-4 in January. St. Bonaventure is 3-8. Both the Canisius and Niagara men are 5-1 in January.