No. 20 UB (12-1) will open Mid-American Conference play today at 9 p.m. when it takes on preseason MAC West favorite Eastern Michigan (6-7) in Ypsilanti, Mich.
The Bulls received a unanimous 35 first-place votes for the East Division while the Eagles received 17 in the selected media and coaches poll.
Despite the predictions, each team has had different results this season.
Buffalo looks to remain ranked for the ninth consecutive week, the most for a MAC team since the 1969-70 season, while Eastern Michigan has recorded just two wins against Division I opponents.
The Eagles have had defensive woes and rank seventh in MAC scoring defense and 10th in opponent field goal percentage. They led the MAC in both categories last season.
UB’s high-powered offense ranks 22nd in the country at 84.2 points per game after averaging a school record 84.6 points per game last season.
The Bulls are known to stretch the floor against a weak perimeter defense, and the Eagles have given up 9.5 3-pointers per game while making only 5.5.
Eastern Michigan is scoring just 70.6 points per game but has three players who average more than 10 points.
Redshirt senior point guard Paul Jackson averages 12.8 ppg, the most for the Eagles.
Senior forward Nick Perkins will play his final college game in his home town of Ypsilanti. Perkins and the Bulls played in Ypsilanti during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
In his two games at EMU, Perkins averaged 10.5 rebounds per game, more than four more than his career average of six rebounds per game. Perkins is averaging a career-high in rebounding at 8.5 per game.
Perkins will match up with James Thompson IV, Eastern Michigan’s best player and the top rebounder in the MAC. Thompson was a member of the All-MAC first team last season, averaging a double-double per game.
After a slow start, Thompson grabbed his fourth double-double of this season with 15 points and 14 rebounds in a loss at No. 5 Kansas last week.
UB coach Nate Oats also is returning to old stomping grounds. He coached at Romulus High School, 16 miles from Ypsilanti, for 11 years.
Holloway picks UB
Ahmad Holloway, a defensive tackle from Clarence and Erie Community College, is joining the UB football program as a preferred walk-on. He announced his decision to reclassify on Twitter and will enroll when the spring semester begins. Holloway, listed at 6-4 and 311 pounds, played in four games at ECC last fall. He was named to the Class AA second team for the 2017 season as a senior at Clarence.