BUFFALO, N.Y. — Ahead of the NCAA men's and women's tournaments next week, Western New York teams will be fighting this week for the opportunity to represent their conferences.
Seven teams from four Western New York colleges and universities will hit the road, hoping to take part in the madness this month always holds.
Here's a look at all of those teams and the first opponents this week:
Men - The Golden Griffins will travel to Atlantic City as the 10th seed in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament. The 7-13 Griffs will face the No. 7 Fairfield Stags (8-12) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Canisius lost both matchups with the Stags this season, most recently in overtime on Feb. 14.
Women - The Canisius women's team will also be making the trip for a matchup Tuesday afternoon. With a 3-17 conference record, they'll be severe underdogs as the 11th seed facing No. 6 Monmouth (9-11). That game tips off Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. The Golden Griffins lost both matchups with the Hawks in the regular season.
Men - The Purple Eagles had a stronger showing in the MAAC this season. Despite finishing their conference schedule with a 9-11 record, Niagara earned the No. 5 seed this week. They open their tournament in the quarterfinals, facing No. 4 seed Monmouth (11-9) on Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. The teams split the season series, each winning one game.
Women - Similar to the men's team, Niagara's women will play in the four/five matchup on Thursday. The Purple Eagles (11-9) hold only a slight advantage over their opponent, Siena College (10-10). They play at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. No. 4 seed Niagara won both matchups against the No. 5 Saints this year.
University at Buffalo
Men - The Bulls (13-6) find themselves in the middle of a balanced Mid-American Conference this season. In fact, back-to-back losses to end the regular season dropped UB from third in the standings to fifth. Instead of Ball State (9-10), a team they beat twice, the Bulls will have to face No. 4 seed Akron (14-6). The two teams only met once this season, a Zips win on New Year's Day. Tipoff in their MAC quarterfinal is estimated around 1:30 on Thursday, pending the end to an earlier game.
Women - The UB women enjoyed the most regular season success this year, finishing as the second seed in the MAC. The Bulls went 16-4 through their conference schedule, including 11 wins in their last 12 games. They'll start their push for a championship Wednesday afternoon, when they face No. 7 Western Michigan (10-10). That game is expected to start at 4 p.m.
Men - The Bonnies were the talk of the Atlantic 10 conference before the season began, and have overcome their share of hurdles as well. Now they'll enter the A10 tournament as the No. 4 seed, and receive a double bye into the quarterfinals. St. Bonaventure (12-5) could face three different opponents, depending on the result of first and second round games. No. 12 La Salle and No. 13 St. Joseph's will play Wednesday. The winner of that game faces No. 5 St. Louis on Thursday. The Bonnies await the winner of the Thursday night game. Regardless of opponent, their quarterfinal game is scheduled for Friday at 2:30 p.m.