The home fans in Alumni Arena on Wednesday night will get their first look at the University at Buffalo men's basketball team since the Bulls were ranked for the first time in the top 25 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches Poll.
Ranked 22nd in the nation in this week's AP poll, UB (3-0) will take on Dartmouth (3-1) at 7 p.m. UB is 25th in this week's USA Today ranking, the first of the regular season.
Tickets remain available, a UB spokesman said.
The Bulls are the first Mid-American Conference team to earn ranking in the AP national poll since Kent State was 23rd in 2008. The only other MAC team to make the top 25 this century was Ball State in 2001, when the Cardinals made the list for four weeks, rising as high as 15th. Akron was the last MAC team to make the USA Today list. The 2012-13 Zips made it as No. 25.
Locally, UB is the first of the Western New York Big 4 to gain national ranking since St. Bonaventure in 1970-71, 48 years ago. Niagara last was ranked in 1970 when Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy was starring for the Purple Eagles. Canisius was last ranked in 1956-57 when Hank Nowak was the star of a Griffs team that made it to the NCAA tournament and upset West Virginia in the first round.
The Bulls first drew national attention this season with a 99-94 overtime victory at then-No. 13 West Virginia with senior CJ Massinburg scoring a career high 43 points. Massinburg's scoring was kept in check, but UB scored a 62-53 win at Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill., last Monday. A more balanced attack led by seniors Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris, who had 11 points each, and an 11-point rebounding performance by sixth man Nick Perkins led that victory.
Dartmouth is trying to restore its fortunes on the court under third-year head coach Dave McLaughlin. The Big Green finished last in the Ivy League with a 3-11 record last season and was 7-22 overall. Two of Dartmouth's three wins were against Division III opposition. The other was over Loyola of Maryland. Most impressive was a three-point loss on the road to Davidson of the Atlantic 10.
The thing that stands out in the Dartmouth statistics is the three-point shooting of junior guards Brendan Barry, James Foye and Ian Sistare. Combined they have made 41 of 61 threes for 67.2 percent. Barry is 18 for 28, Foye 12 for 19 and Sistare 11 for 16. Leading scorer is 6-8 Adrease Jackson. Senior captain Guilien Smith is averaging 10.3 points and 6-7 sophomore Chris Knight 10-1.
It will be only the third time UB and Dartmouth have met in men's basketball and the Big Green has won both previous games, the latest in 1996 in the Toledo MVP Classic.
UB and Dartmouth are among the four teams that will compete in the Belfast Hall of Fame Classic in Northern Ireland Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. UB is in one bracket with Milwaukee, San Francisco and Stephen F. Austin. Dartmouth is in the other bracket with Albany, Marist and LIU Brooklyn.