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Big 4 will play basketball double-header on Dec. 17

The Big 4 will unite for a double-header in December.

Western New York’s four Division I college basketball teams will play at First Niagara Center for a Saturday afternoon event on Dec. 17. St. Bonaventure will play Niagara at 1 p.m. The University at Buffalo plays Canisius in the second game.

The four teams played a double-header two years ago but did not play a “Big 4 event” last season.

Buffalo will be a first-weekend NCAA Tournament site in March. Canisius and Niagara, as the host teams for that event, are required to play a game in the First Niagara Center this season under NCAA Tournament rules. The double-header agreement among the Big 4 is for this season only.

“In advance of the NCAA Tournament returning to Buffalo next March, we are excited to once again provide an exciting college basketball doubleheader in First Niagara Center,” Canisius Director of Athletics Bill Maher said.

“Setting up an event like this takes a lot of cooperation and coordination among all four schools and First Niagara Center. Western New York basketball fans and alumni from all four schools always express their nostalgia for the Saturday double-headers in the Aud. The Big 4 Basketball Classic allows all four schools to pay homage to the importance of college basketball in the history in our city.”

The four teams will wear throwback uniforms chosen by fans for the games. Two years ago, the four teams wore Buffalo Braves-themed uniforms.

Each school is offering three choices of throwback uniforms, displayed on the schools’ websites. Fans can vote on their uniform of choice, and the winning designs will be unveiled in mid-September. The uniforms will be presented by ComDoc, a business equipment company, and Lawley Insurance. AdPro Sports, the official uniforms supplier for Buffalo, Canisius and Niagara, assisted with the designs.

“The Buffalo Braves-themed uniforms all four schools wore in 2014 received a tremendous amount of attention,” Maher said. “We believe that allowing fans to have a say in what the schools wear in this year’s event just takes this piece of the Big 4 Basketball Classic to a new level.”

Tickets for the Big 4 Basketball Classic are on sale now and cost $25, with a limited number of floor seats available for $35. One ticket is good for both games. Fans can purchase tickets through Tickets.com, at the First Niagara Center Box Office or charge by phone at 1-888-223-6000.

Niagara and UB are the designated "home" teams for the games. Canisius played at UB last season, but UB needed another designated home game this year to get up to 16 for the season. Teams need to have 30 home games over any two-year stretch to qualify for certain NCAA revenue-sharing moneys paid out by conferences.

This will be the fifth Big 4 double-header. The first was in 1996.

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