BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo men's basketball team received plenty of preseason praise on Tuesday morning as the Mid-American Conference announced their preseason poll and preseason All-League Teams. Buffalo was picked to finish first in the MAC East, receiving all 35 first-place votes, while CJ Massinburg, Nick Perkins, and Jeremy Harris were all named to the league's preseason All-League Team.
Buffalo is coming off a record-breaking season in 2017-18 where the Bulls won a school-record 27 games and finished 15-3 in Mid-American Conference play, its first ever outright regular season title. After rolling through the MAC Tournament, the Bulls picked up one of the biggest upsets in the NCAA Tournament last season, defeating PAC-12 champion Arizona, 89-68, in the first round. The Bulls return three of their top four scorers from last year's team, all three who averaged over 15.0 points per game last year.
In all, the Bulls return eight scholarship players from last year's team, while adding in a talent group of newcomers to the squad. If the Bulls can pull off another championship in Cleveland, they would become the first MAC team ever to win four league titles in a five-year span.
The Bulls received 210 votes and all 35 first place votes in the poll that was voted on by the league's head coaches and media. They become the first program since Ball State in 2002 to receive over 200 votes.
As for the all-league teams, no MAC program has ever had more than two players on a preseason All-Conference team until this season, dating back to 1999, which are the records available on the Mid-American Conference website.
Senior CJ Massinburg was a first-team All-MAC selection last year as he led the team averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. His 611 total points, tied the school record for points scored in a single season.
Fellow fourth-year player Nick Perkins was also named to the All-MAC First team last season, while also being named the MAC Sixth Man of the Year for the second straight season. He is the first player in league history to win the award in back-to-back years. Perkins led the Bulls in scoring in MAC games and had a stretch of 25 straight games in double figures.
Senior Jeremy Harris made an immediate impact for the Bulls last season in his first year with the team after coming over from junior college. Harris was a second-team All-MAC selection as he averaged 15.5 points per game and led the MAC in three-point shooting in league games only. Harris had one of the toughest matches for the Bulls in their NCAA Tournament win over Arizona as he was matched up against the NBA top pick, Deandre Ayton, but Harris was able to use his speed to get the better of the freshman.
The Bulls will open up the regular season a week from today when UB hosts St. Francis (PA) at Alumni Arena. Tip off is at 4pm.
2018-19 MAC Men's Basketball Preseason Poll
East Division -- Points (first place votes)
1. Buffalo – 210 (35)
2. Miami – 127
3. Kent State – 122
4. Ohio – 121
5. Akron – 97
6. Bowling Green – 58
West Division – Points (first place votes)
1. Eastern Michigan – 183 (17)
2. Ball State – 175 (11)
3. Toledo – 156 (5)
4. Western Michigan – 81 (1)
5. Northern Illinois – 73
6. Central Michigan -- 67 (1)
Tournament Champion: Buffalo 25, Eastern Michigan 3, Toledo 3, Central Michigan 1, Miami 1, Northern Illinois 1, Western Michigan 1
MAC Men's Basketball East Division Preseason All-MAC
Demajeo Wiggins, Sr., Forward, Bowling Green
C.J. Massinburg, Sr., Guard, Buffalo
Jeremy Harris, Sr., Guard, Buffalo
Nick Perkins, Sr., Forward, Buffalo
Jaylin Walker, Sr., Guard, Kent State
MAC Men's Basketball West Division Preseason All-MAC
Tayler Persons, Sr., Guard, Ball State
James Thompson IV, Sr., Forward/Center, Eastern Michigan
Elijah Minnie, Sr., Forward, Eastern Michigan
Eugene German, Jr., Guard, Northern Illinois
Jaelan Sanford, Sr., Guard, Toledo