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2015-16 MAC Contender Season Preview: Buffalo Bulls

The Buffalo Bulls are coming off a strong 2014-2015 campaign, and they should contend again in the MAC. The Bulls lost many key pieces to last years team, but they also added many good players for this upcoming season.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo is a team that is full of changes after a very busy off season. The Bulls have lost key pieces from last year, but the team should still contend to be one of the best teams in the conference under new head coach Nate Oats. The Bull's out of conference schedule is by far the toughest of any MAC school and will not be a failure if they lose the three games noted below.

2014-15 Record: (Overall: 23-10), (MAC: 12-6)

Key Match Ups:

  • December 5th @Duke
  • December 7th @Iowa State
  • December 22nd @Virginia Common Wealth

Offseason Developments:

The Bulls are coming off a very good season, but did sustain two major blows this off season. To start, head coach Bobby Hurley left the program after leading them to a NCAA tournament bid. Hurley decided to take a new job with Arizona State. Losing a head coach could be a big blow to any program, but it gets worse in upstate New York. The Bulls also lost MAC player of the year Justin Moss after he was dismissed from the program after he and two other teammates were found to be stealing from other student's dorms. Hurley was replaced by assistant Nate Oats. Unlike coach Hurley, Buffalo will not be able to replace Moss with Just one player.

Key Returners:

Buffalo brings back four players that saw a lot of playing time in guards Lamonte Beardern, Jarryn Skeete, and Roddel Wiggington. Lastly, senior Raheem Johnson appeared in all 33 games off the bench leading the team with 37 blocks. Bearden started 31 games for the Bulls and was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team.

Bearden led the MAC in assist to turnover ratio in conference games. Jarryn Skeete is senior guard who has started games in each of the last three years. Skeete was named to the MAC All-Freshman team three years ago and averaged 9.1 points per game. Lastly, senior guard, Roddel Wiggington started six games last year for the Bulls after playing his first two years of college ball at the College of Central Florida. These four players should provide Buffalo with veteran leadership.

Offseason Additions:

The Buffalo Bulls added a key junior college prospect in Blake Hamilton out of Mt. San Antonio College. Hamilton added 13.5 points per game and was named to the All SCC North division first team. Hamilton will be joined be two other junior college stand outs in Willie Conner and Nick Kadiri. Buffalo also adds a few freshman to the roster in C.J Massinburg out of Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. Massinburg was the Offensive MVP of his district and was also named All-Region and All Area. The Bulls also added freshman forward Nick Perkins. Perkins is out of Milan High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

On a closing note the Bulls also added Nikola Rakicevic from Serbia. Rakicevic was selected to the U-17 World Championship team after 12.4 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game in the tournament. These additions should help add much needed depth for the Bulls and at least one of these players will crack the starting line up.

Season Projection:

I believe that the Bulls will still be a force in the MAC even with the losses of Moss and Hurley. However, if the additions mentioned above cannot make an immediate impact, the Bulls will drop to the middle of the pack. Nate Oats will be a different coach, but he will not be a new face which makes the transition that much easier for this squad. I would predict that the Bulls finish 3rd or 4th in the Mac and could be a dark horse team to repeat their run as MAC tournament champions.