History won't be on the side of the University at Buffalo men's basketball team when it puts its national ranking on the line tonight against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.
UB (10-0) held its 14th ranking in the Associated Press poll of media and 15th in the USA Today Coaches Poll which were announced on Monday..
Syracuse (7-3) is unranked this week and received no votes in either of the national poll after a 68-62 home loss to Old Dominion on Saturday. The Orange was 25th in the AP poll last week.
One reason the 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.
UB is the first non-conference 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, Dec. 10, 1983.
Going back before the Dome opened for the 1980-81 season, No. 16 Niagara lost an unranked Syracuse 82-79, Dec. 12, 1956.
Another reason to be wary is the Syracuse dominance all-time against UB. The Orange has a 28-5 advantage in the series. Three of the UB wins came in the 1960-61, 1961-62 and 1962-63 season before the dawning of the Dave Bing era began a resurgence of Syracuse basketball that has lasted to this day. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was 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 6-6 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 UB 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).
The Bulls garnered 684 points in the AP Poll, up from the 664 points that they received last week. That's despite the fact that Graham Couch of the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal put them seventh on his ballot, down two places from last week. Dick Vitale of ESPN dropped UB one place to No. 15. John Feinstein of the Washington Post kept them at No. 12. Brian Holland, a TV reporter from Baton Rouge, La., kept them at No. 24 on his ballot and Jesse Newell of the Kansas City Star did not list the Bulls in his top 25 again.
UB is 154 points behind No. 13 Virginia Tech and 37 points ahead of No. 15 Ohio State in the AP voting. In the USA Today poll, UB (318) is 23 points in back of No. 14 Ohio State and 46 points in front of No. 16 Mississippi State.
Kansas (9-0) held first in both polls with 56 first-place votes in the AP. Duke (9-1) was second with five first-place votes and Tennesse (8-1) third with two first-place votes.
No. 4 Michigan and No. 5 Virginia each moved up one place from last week while No. 4 Gonzaga slipped to No. 8. Nevada at No. 6 and Auburn at No. 7 each moved up one place in the AP.
Gonzaga fell from No. 6 to No. 9 in the USA Today rankings.#