Western New York is sending two teams to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Men’s basketball teams from the University at Buffalo and St. Bonaventure were named to the 68-team field Sunday night. UB qualified for the tournament by winning the Mid-American Conference tournament on Saturday while Bonaventure received an at-large bid.
The last time Western New York sent multiple teams to the NCAA Tournament was in 1970, when St. Bonaventure and Niagara were among 24 schools selected. WNY also sent two teams to the 1995 National Invitation Tournament, when Canisius and St. Bonaventure went.
St. Bonaventure (25-7) was named among the last four teams selected for the tournament and will open with a play-in game against UCLA (21-11) in Dayton, Ohio, at 9:10 p.m. Tuesday. The winner be the No. 11 seed in the East Region and face No. 6 Florida (20-12) in a first-round game Thursday in Dallas.
UB (26-8) earned the No. 13 seed in the South Region and will face Pac-12 champion Arizona (27-7), a fourth seed, at approximately 9:45 p.m. Thursday in Boise, Idaho.
UB players and fans who gathered at Santora's Pizza Pub & Grill in Williamsville for the NCAA selection show cheered when St. Bonaventure's name was announced.
“They deserved it last year, they certainly deserved it this year," UB coach Nate Oats said of Bonaventure. "I’m happy for them. I think Big 4 basketball is on the rise. The other two teams (Canisius and Niagara) had really good years; it’s unfortunate they didn’t get in, but just like us they would’ve had to win their tournament. Mark (Schmidt, the coach) does an unbelievable job down in Bonnies. Really happy they got in. I hope they can make some noise. Hopefully we can both make a little bit of noise here in the tournament.”
Canisius and Niagara will also be in action this week, marking the first time that all four Big 4 teams are in the postseason together.
Canisius is hosting Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), and Niagara will play at Eastern Michigan in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) at the same time.