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Plenty on the line for Bonnies, Bulls

The University at Buffalo plays to keep a possible conference championship alive while St. Bonaventure plays for a more favorable postseason tournament seeding in Big 4 men's basketball games tonight.

The Bulls (17-9, 10-4 MAC) will be trying to keep alive their hopes of winning their first Mid-American Conference regular-season championship when they face Akron (20-9, 12-2 MAC) in Rhodes Arena in Akron, Ohio. It won't be easy.

Akron will be celebrating Senior Night in its home finale and is motivated by the opportunity for its first MAC regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed in the MAC Tournament. Also, the Zips have won 14 straight conference games at home and six of the last seven against UB there.

The Bulls defeated Akron, 80-72, at Alumni Arena on Jan. 18 behind a 21-point outing by Zack Filzen. Akron, which has six players with 10 or more three-point baskets this season, made only 5 of 17 three-pointers against the Bulls in their previous meeting.

Outside shooting was important in the first meeting, but so was the inside duel between Akron's 7-foot Zeke Marshall and UB's 6-10 Mitchell Watt.

A sweep of the season series would give UB a tiebreaker advance should the teams wind up tied for first place after they complete the regular season Saturday -- UB at home against Bowling Green, Akron at Kent State.

St. Bonaventure (16-10, 9-5 Atlantic 10 ), meanwhile, will be playing to nail down fourth place in the Atlantic 10 Conference and gain a first-round bye in next weekend's A-10 championship when it faces Saint Joseph's (19-11, 9-6) in the regular-season home finale at the Reilly Center.

The visiting Hawks are coming off an 82-72 upset over first-place Temple on Saturday, their fourth win in the last five games. Coach Phil Martelli's team has come on in February, winning six of eight. The game will match two of the best shot-blockers in the conference. C.J. Aiken of St. Joseph's is fourth in the nation in blocks with a 3.8 average. Andrew Nicholson of the Bonnies, a strong candidate for conference Player of the Year, averages 2.5 blocks a game.

Nicholson averaged 27.5 points and 10.0 rebounds in the Bonnies' two road victories last week, shooting 67.7 percent from the floor (21-31) overall, making three of his five three-point attempts to go with four assists and three blocks.

In Big 4 women's basketball, UB closed its home season with a 78-69 loss to Akron, ending the Bulls' winning streak at two. Brittany Hedderson led the Bulls with 16 points, Nicki Hopkins had 14, Nytor Longar had 13 points and 14 rebounds and Christa Baccas had 12 points.

The Bulls, who led 41-35 at the half, finished Mid-American Conference regular-season play with a 4-12 record, 9-21 overall. UB will be on the road on Saturday against an opponent to be determined for the first round of the MAC Tournament. Ti'Eshia Stubbs had 18 points and Taylor Ruper 17 for the Zips (13-17, 7-9), who ended their losing streak at three games.