Canisius and Niagara will open their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference men’s basketball schedules on the road in early January, according to the slate of conference games announced on Wednesday.
The Griffs will face Marist under new coach John Dunne, on Thursday, Jan. 3 at the McCann Center in Poughkeepsie. Niagara will open on Jan. 5 against Manhattan at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale. First conference home game for Canisus will be Friday Jan. 11 against Rider. Niagara’s first MAAC home game will be the same night against three-time defending conference champion Iona.
Each will finish MAAC regular season play at home against Siena and its new coach Jamion Christian, who led Mount St. Mary’s College to the NCAA tournament twice in the last six years. Siena will play Canisius on Friday, March 1 at the Koessler Center. Two days later the Saints will face Niagara in at the Gallagher Center.
After playing a full round-robin conference schedule for many years, the 11-member MAAC adopted an unbalanced 18-game conference slate for 2017-18. That format remains.
Each MAAC team will face eight conference opponents home and home. And each will play only one game against two conference rivals. Canisius will play Manhattan (home) and Saint Peter’s (away) only once each. Niagara will meet Marist (away) and Monmouth (home) only once each.
The Canisius-Niagara Battle of the Bridge series will be Wednesday, Jan. 30 at Niagara and Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Canisius.
Both Canisius under Reggie Witherspoon, and Niagara under Chris Casey had successful conference seasons in 2017-18 and earned postseason tournament bids. Canisius (15-3), which played in the CBI, shared the MAAC regular season title with Rider. In addition to the Jan. 11 game against Rider, the Griffs will face the Broncs in Lawrenceville, N.J. on Feb. 8.
Niagara (12-6) was the No. 3 seed for the MAAC tournament. The Purple Eagles were 19-14 overall and played in the CIT.
Canisius will open its regular season on Nov. 14 at Bucknell. Niagara’s first game will be at home against St. Bonaventure on Nov. 12.
Besides Dunne at Marist and Christian at Siena, the other new head coach in the MAAC is Shaheen Holloway at Saint Peter’s, succeeding Dunne, who coached the Peacocks for 12 seasons.