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Half of Big 4 women may burst bubble

It's the final week of the regular season as discussion and speculation about the postseason begins -- for women's teams.

For the first time, there are two Big 4 teams with serious postseason potential -- Canisius and St. Bonaventure.
The scenario is more clear-cut for the Golden Griffins. The chance of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament is slim. Marist would be the lone exception if it fails to win the conference title.

But the Griffs have a shot at that tournament title and NCAA bid. They've knocked off Marist this season and are poised to make a solid run in Albany next week.
Canisius is in a battle for second place in the MAAC with Fairfield. And second place, regardless of tournament success, would mean a berth in the WNIT.
The 48-team WNIT expanded two years ago to give every conference an automatic berth. That automatic entry goes to the best team left in a conference after the NCAA has made its selections. The organization bases it on regular-season standings, so in a conference like the MAAC, second place will usually mean a least a WNIT bid.

Since the Griffs have an RPI of 110 as of Monday morning (according to RealTimeRPI.com), their chances at the NCAA rely on them winning the MAAC.

Locking up a postseason bid could come down to Saturday's game with Niagara (2 p.m., Koessler Center). While the Purple Eagles have struggled this year, they did pick up their first conference win Sunday and the Canisius-Niagara game is historically difficult to predict regardless of records.
St. Bonaventure's situation, though, gets a bit muddy.
The Bonnies have had a record-setting year but with their loss at George Washington fell to fifth place in the Atlantic 10 standings at 8-4, 19-8 overall.
The question of the postseason for Bona will revolve around several factors: how the Bonnies close out the regular season, how deep they go into the A-10 tournament and what everyone else in the A-10 does.
Bona has an RPI of 57 -- the fourth best rating among A-10 schools.
But how many schools will the NCAA Tournament take from the Atlantic 10? The only likely lock is Xavier, though Temple, Richmond and Charlotte are in the mix.

St. Bonaventure is perhaps on the bubble of the NCAA bubble. And while that doesn't get you anywhere in the collegiate basketball world, having Bona in the discussion is something new for women's hoops in the Big 4.
So what about the WNIT? Well, that would depend on if Bona can gain any ground on third-place George Washington and Temple (both a game up on the Bonnies) and then how many teams the NCAA takes.
As a conference, the Atlantic 10 ranks seventh in RPI, so three teams may be a stretch and Bona just miss a postseason bid. They can help their resume though, with a strong finish to the regular season (they travel to St. Louis on Wednesday and host Charlotte at 1 p.m. Saturday) and a deep run in the A-10 tournament.

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>This Week's Games

Buffalo men: After dropping three straight, the Bulls look to rebound hosting Akron at 7 p.m., Thursday then travel to Ohio University for a noon game Sunday.
Buffalo women: Bulls are on a five-game losing streak and host Mid-American Conference East leader Bowling Green (12-0, 23-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Akron at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Canisius men: Host Marist at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Siena at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Canisius women: Finish regular season by hosting Niagara at 2 p.m., Saturday.
Niagara men: Showdown with first-place Siena at 7 p.m. Friday in the Gallagher Center. Siena is 15-1 in conference and the Purple Eagles are 12-4. Niagara finishes the regular season hosting Marist at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Niagara women: Coming off first MAAC win, the Eagles finish regular season at Canisius, 2 p.m. Saturday.
St. Bonaventure men: Host Saint Louis at 7 p.m. Wednesday then at Saint Joseph's on Sunday at 2 p.m.
St. Bonaventure women: At St. Louis on Wednesday at 8 p.m., then close the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday against second-place Charlotte.

e-mail: amoritz@buffnews.com

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