St. Bonaventure (7-8, 0-2 Atlantic 10) will face an opponent it hasn’t beaten at home in the last four tries while the University at Buffalo (5-11, 0-2 MAC) will face a Mid-American Conference nemesis in Big 4 men’s basketball tonight.
Buffalo native Don Criqui will be at the microphone for the play-by-play of the nationally televised game when the Bonnies face Xavier in the Reilly Center (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network) in a rematch of last season’s championship game of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Bona won, 67-56, on a neutral court at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic, City, N.J., the only St. Bonaventure win in the last 12 games against the X-men.
UB also will be looking for its first conference victory when it faces Kent State (10-6, 1-1 MAC) in Alumni Arena (Radio 1230, 7 p.m.).
Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure great Earl Belcher (Class of ‘81) has been chosen to represent the school in the Atlantic 10 Inaugural Men’s Basketball Legends who will be honored at this year’s conference tournament semifinals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on March 16.
The group includes 11 former players, three head coaches and two individuals that were both a player and a coach for their respective institutions. The list includes four members of the Naismith National Basketball Hall of Fame (Tony Hinkle, Red Auerbach, Tom Gola, John Chaney).
Belcher, a Syracuse native, is one of just five players in SBU history with 2,000 or more points, and his 2,077 points ranks third all-time.
The Bona and Xavier lineups tonight will be much different than they were in last year’s conference championship game.
None of the Xavier starters from that game are on the team this season.
Four reserves who played in that game return, but they scored only four points. Freshman Semaj Christon, a 6-foot-3 guard, leads the Musketeers in scoring at 14.1.
Three Bona starters, Demitrius Conger, Charlon Kloof and Jordan Gathers, are back from that victory, but missing, of course, is Andrew Nicholson, who had 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Kent State’s Golden Flashes hold a 26-8 advantage in the all-time series against UB. Seven of the Bulls’ victories have come at Alumni Arena. The schools have split their last four regular-season series, each winning at home.
The Bulls are led by 6-foot-7 forward Javon McCrea (15.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg), who has four double-doubles this season The junior forward has averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds against Kent State in his career.
While the men’s teams are home, both the Bona and UB women will be on the road for conference games.
The Bonnies (7-9, 0-1 A-10), who dropped their conference opener to Temple on Sunday in the Reilly Center, will travel to Richmond, which is 7-1 all-time in the series in the Robins Center.
Coach Jim Crowley’s St. Bonaventure team will have to deal with 6-4 sophomore center Liz Brown, who has 26 blocks this season for the Spiders (10-7, 1-1). St. Bonaventure defeated the Spiders, 75-59, in their most recent meeting, last season in Olean.
Fresh from a 73-36 rout of Ohio University, the largest margin of victory ever for the Bulls in a MAC game, UB (4-11, 2-0 MAC) will travel to Kent State (2-13, 0-2).