Very Bull-ievable

U.B. follows their wire-to-wire MAC title with a berth in the NCAA Tournament

Howard Simon
March 11, 2018 - 10:59 am

Photo: Ken Blaze - USA TODAY Sports


Welcome to the golden era of University at Buffalo basketball, and one of the best stretches ever for any Western New York Division I basketball program.

We shouldn’t be surprised with U.B.’s MAC Tournament championship. After all, they were the best team in the league. But we should be impressed. The Bulls won their conference opener beating Toledo, recorded victories in their first eight MAC games of the season and led the league wire-to-wire. There’s a lot of pressure on the one-seed in a one-bid league like the Mid-American Conference. There would be no dancing for the Bulls if they stumbled in Cleveland, but U.B. handled that pressure while knocking off Central Michigan, Kent State and Toledo.

The three-game run was a great example of what makes this U.B. team so good. The Bulls are talented, the Bulls are deep and the Bulls are unselfish. They can win games in different ways and can lean on a number of players. They don’t rely on one player to carry them. In the victories over Central Michigan and Kent State, Jeremy Harris led the way, hitting shot after shot. He cooled off in the final so Wes Clark played the role of hero. The Missouri transfer had a game-high 26 points, including some pressure-packed clutch baskets late in the second half when the Rockets rallied from 10 points down to tie the game at 63. Clark was a non-factor in the quarterfinals and semifinals, shooting a frigid 4-of-16 from the field.

Nick Perkins, who could start for any team in the MAC but has embraced his role as sixth man for the Bulls, had a huge second half. He was a force down low and ended up with 16 points, including a key three-point shot that extended the Bulls' lead from four to seven with under two minutes left. 

The win means a third NCAA tournament berth in four seasons for the Bulls. The best stretch for a MAC team since Kent State from 1999-2002. It's the best stretch for a WNY Division I program since Canisius earned three straight berths from 1955-57. Here are some of the other accomplishments for the 2017-2018 edition of the Bulls:

  • A school record for most wins in a season: 26 (old record was 23)
  • A school record for most MAC wins in a season: 15
  • First ever out-right MAC title
  • U.B. placed two players on First-Team All-MAC for the first time
  • U.B.’s offense set a school single season record for most points per game: 85 (currently ranked sixth in the country)
  • U.B. set a school record by shooting at least 50-percent from the field for 10 straight games

By the way, the 26 wins are the second most ever by a WNY Division I program. The 1921-22 Niagara Purple Eagles (no, I didn’t cover them) went 27-4. 

And the winning shouldn’t end any time soon. UB will lose just one of its top-six scorers to graduation, Wes Clark. Ikenna Smart might not be back, but everyone else will. In addition, U.B. has their highest-rated ever recruiting class coming in. The three signees include Rochester native Jeenathan Williams, a 6' 7" forward ranked as a four-star recruit by and listed as the third best player in New York State. Point guard Ronald Segu from Orlando, Florida is also a four-star recruit according to

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