Two conference victories on the road kept the University at Buffalo at the No. 25 position in this week’s Associated Press Men’s Basketball Poll.
After victories at Akron and at 20-win Toledo, UB did lose six points in the polling but stayed in the AP Top 25 for the 15th week in a row. That extended the record for most ever appearances for a Mid-American Conference team in one season.
The Bulls (22-3, 10-2 MAC) also held their No. 24 position in the USA Today Coaches Poll. In the NCAA NET ratings, a computerized system, fell from No. 22 to 24.
There was plenty of movement at the top of the AP poll, mostly a result of Tennessee’s loss at Kentucky on Saturday night. The loss dropped the Vols from No. 1 to No. 5 with Duke moving back into the top spot. Gonzaga climbed to No. 2. Virginia is No. 3, Kentucky is No. 4.
Nevada at No. 6 and Michigan at No. 7 round out the top seven which is the same as in the USA Today Coaches Poll. North Carolina is No. 8 in the AP Poll. Houston is No. 8 in the coaches poll.
UB will begin a three-game MAC home stand Tuesday night against Ohio University at Alumni Arena, then face Kent State at home on Friday night. Ohio and Kent State, along with Akron, have become UB’s biggest rivals since it joined the MAC for the 2002-01 season.
The Bulls were eliminated from the MAC Tournament four times by Kent State before defeating the Golden Flashes in the semifinals last season on the way to the title. Three times the Bulls were ousted from the conference tourney by Ohio before defeating the Bobcats in the 2016 semifinals.
Tuesday night’s game will be the first of two meetings between UB and Ohio in the last two weeks of the MAC regular season.
The Bobcats (11-3, 3-9) are having a rare off year under coach Saul Phillips. Saturday’s 87-80 loss at Central Michigan was the fifth in a row for Ohio and seventh loss in the last nine games. The Bobcats have won just twice in 11 games away from the Convocation Center in Athens, Ohio.
The Bobcats are averaging 69.3 points per game this year, including just 64.2 points in MAC only games. Sophomore Jason Carter, who made the MAC All-Freshman team two seasons ago but played only three games last season because of injury, leads Ohio in both scoring (16.2) and rebounding (7.0). Sophomore guard Teyvion Kirk is second on the team at 14.8 points per game.
Sophomore Ben Vander Plas, who missed all of last season with an injury, had a breakout game in the loss to Central Michigan with 24 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes off the bench.
There were no changes in either the AP or USA Today poll in UB’s position in relation to other teams. The same 24 teams finished ahead of the Bulls in the media poll and the same 23 stayed in front of them in the coaches’ poll. Dick Vitale if ESPN did not have UB on his ballot while John Feinstein of the Washington Post put the at 16th this week, up two places. Graham Couch of the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal again had UB at No. 14 on his ballot.
Ohio is rated at No. 200 and Kent State at No. 131 in Monday’s NCAA NET ratings.
Other NET ratings of interest: Syracuse No. 48 up from No. 50; St. Bonaventure No. 140 up from 146; Canisius No. 277, down from No. 266 and Niagara No. 307, down from No. 306.
UB’s 22nd win on Friday at Toledo ranked fourth in school history for wins in a season. No. 23 would tie for the second most all-time.
UB has won 22 straight home games, tied with Michigan for third longest in the nation behind Houston (32) and Tennessee (23).
When senior Nick Perkins checks into the game on Tuesday, he will be playing in his 129th career game, a UB record he currently shares with Mitchell Watt (2008-12) and Javon McRae (2010-14).
The third game in UB’s three-game home stand will be Feb. 26 against Akron.