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Big 4 Hoops Week: Two big MAC challenges await UB

It’s a big week for the University at Buffalo men’s basketball team.

The Bulls play host to defending Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan Tuesday night and then play host to Kent State, the leader in the MAC-East, on at 10 p.m. Friday. That game is on ESPNU.

Here’s a roundup of the week ahead for the Big 4 men:

UB: The Bulls can assert themselves as a big threat to win the MAC with two wins at Alumni Arena this week. UB is 12-6 and 3-3 in the MAC East after Saturday’s final-seconds loss at Ohio. Western Michigan is 13-6 and 4-2. Kent State is 14-5 and 5-1.

Pomeroy Ranking: UB is 80th in the country and second in the MAC (behind Bowling Green) according to the analytics site. But the league is tightly bunched.

MAC Ranking: Forward Justin Moss leads the MAC in scoring (18.3) and rebounding (9.4), and he’s sixth in field-goal percentage (52.8). Guard Shannon Evans leads the MAC in minutes (34.6) and is fourth in scoring (15.6). As a team, UB is fourth in defensive field goal percentage. UB’s defense will be tested by Western Michigan, which has great balance and efficiency. The Broncos shot 46.4 percent from the field in beating UB 78-68, on Jan. 10.

ST. BONA: The Bonnies are off until Saturday, when they play host to LaSalle at 7 p.m. Bona stands sixth in the A10 at 11-7 overall and 4-3. LaSalle is 10-9 and 2-4.

Pomeroy Ranking: Bona is 120th, ninth in the A10. There are six A10 teams in the top 64, led by Virginia Commonwealth at 18th. LaSalle is 109.

A10 Ranking: Bona guard Marcus Posley leads the conference in scoring at 17.8 ppg. Dion Wright is 17th at 12.7. Center Youssou Ndoye is second in rebounding at 11.0 a game. Bona’s defense still is pretty good, ranking fourth in the A10 in defensive FG percentage (.419).

CANISIUS: The Griffs had an ugly loss at Rider Saturday. Nevertheless, the big upset of Iona a week ago should have Griffs fans feeling pretty good. Canisius is 11-8 and 6-4, tied for fourth in the 11-team Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Canisius plays host to Quinnipiac Friday and Marist Sunday. Quinnipiac is 11-8, 5-5. Marist is 1-9, 2-18.

Pomeroy Ranking: Canisius is 136th, second best in the MAAC, behind only Iona (87).

MAAC Ranking: Good defense is an equalizer. The Griffs are second in scoring defense (61.4), which is about 60th in the country and second best in the MAAC. The Griffs are also second in the MAAC in assists at 14.4 a game. Zach Lewis ranks 12th in the MAAC in scoring at 13.7 ppg.

NIAGARA: The Purple Eagles are right about where they were picked to be – second last in the 11-team MAAC. Niagara is 3-16 and 2-8. It hosts Marist Friday and Quinnipiac Sunday.

Pomeroy Ranking: Niagara is 303rd.

MAAC Ranking: Niagara is last in field goal percentage (38.5) and last in field-goal percentage defense (47.9), which is in the bottom 15 in the country. Forward Ramone Snowden is 18th in the MAAC in scoring at 11.9 ppg.

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