By Milt Northrop
News Sports Reporter
With road victories at nationally ranked West Virginia and at Southern Illinois, the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team continues to impress the college basketball pollsters.
The Bulls (3-0) moved up three places to 22nd in the Association Press weekly poll announced Monday and made the USA Today Coaches Poll for the first time, checking in at No. 25 this week.
Big 10 teams Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin occupy the three spots behind UB in the AP Top 25. West Virginia dropped out of the poll with the loss to UB, the first time the Mountaineers were not ranked in 55 weeks going back to 2015.
Coach Nate Oats’ UB team, the defending Mid-American Conference champion, has been off since a 62-53 win over SIU in Carbondale, Ill, on Nov. 12. They will return to action at 7 p.m. on Wednesday against Dartmouth at Alumni Arena and face Marist at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the same venue.
Through three games, the Bulls have four players averaging double figures in scoring, including CJ Massinburg, who is leading the MAC in scoring at 20.3 points per game.
There was considerable shakeup in the AP poll after the first week and a half of the schedule. Duke leads both polls, but some big-time names are missing this week.
Defending NCAA champion Villanova dropped out of the AP Top 25 after losing to Michigan and Furman. The back-to-back losses were the first for coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats in five years. They’re also the first national champion to start 2-2 since UCLA in 1995.
Villanova was eighth last week.
Also dropping out of the AP Top 25 was Syracuse, which lost to Connecticut and Iowa in Madison Square Garden, and Marquette, which fell to Indiana.
"We have to play better offensively [if] we’re going to be successful. Our defense is nowhere near the point it was last year. That’s something that also has to get better," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose team is 2-2 for the first time since the 1987-88 season.
The top five was unchanged. Behind Duke, which received 53 of 63 first-place votes, are Kansas, which had seven first-place votes, Gonzaga, Virginia and Tennessee.