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Niagara gets one game before conference play starts

How long does Niagara have to get ready for this season’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball opener? How does 40 minutes sound?

The full schedules for both teams were announced Wednesday. The Purple Eagles open their season Nov. 14 at Pittsburgh of the Atlantic Coast Conference and then bounce straight into conference play with their Nov. 20 opener at Saint Peter’s. Last year, Niagara already had 10 games under its belt when it opened conference play on Dec. 6.

Instead, that Dec. 6 date now marks the first meeting of the season between Niagara and Canisius, the earliest the bridge rivals have played since 2004. That game will be at the Taps Gallagher Center, with the second Feb. 22 at Canisius.

Both teams will play in the Big 4 Classic at First Niagara Center on Nov. 29, facing the other two Big 4 teams. Niagara will play St. Bonaventure at 2 p.m. while Canisius takes on UB at 4:15.

Schedule highlights:

Home openers: Canisius Nov. 15 vs. Vermont, Niagara Nov. 22 vs. Hartford.

Top non-conference challenges: Canisius - Nov. 22 at Bona, Nov. 29 vs. UB (FNC DH), Dec. 13 at UMass (first meeting since 1963). Dec. 18 vs. Stony Brook, Dec. 21 vs. Holy Cross. Niagara - Nov. 14 at Pitt, Nov. 29 vs. Bona (FNC DH), Dec. 2 at St. John’s (first meeting since ’07-08), Dec. 13 at Davidson, Dec. 23 vs. Arkansas State.

MAAC Openers (home and away) : Canisius - Dec. 3 at Saint Peter’s, Jan. 2 vs. Monmouth. Niagara - Nov. 20 at Saint Peter’s, Dec. 6 vs. Canisius.

MAAC Tournament: March 5-9 in Albany.