St. Bonaventure Bonnies (26-7) at Florida Gators (20-12)
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies will look to keep their historic season alive tonight when they play the Florida Gators in an eleven-six matchup. The Bonnies picked up an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament this season after winning twenty-five games on the year. The Bonnies have already won a game in this tournament as they defeated UCLA in the first-four game in Akron on Tuesday night.
The Gators look to advance in what has been a season with some very high, highs and some very low, lows. The Gators are -5.5-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 143 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:57 PM PST from the AA Center in Dallas, Texas.
The St. Bonaventure Bonnies are playing on house money at this point. They made their first NCAA tournament since 1970 and managed to beat the most storied program of them all, the UCLA Bruins, in the first round. The Bonnies have already set a record for the most wins in a single season in school history. Whatever happens from here on out is just the cherry on top for what has been a remarkable season for the Bonnies.
When you think of the Bonnies, the last thing that would ever have come to your mind before this season was at-large bid, worthy team. But they absolutely earned that bid this season as they were one of the hottest teams in the country heading into the tournament. The Bonnies won fourteen straight games before getting knocked off by a red-hot Davidson team in the semi-finals of the A-10 tournament.
The Bonnies have some legit wins this season against the likes of Maryland, Syracuse, Vermont, Buffalo, Davidson, and Rhode Island. This wasn’t a record run up against a bunch of weak teams. This team played a solid schedule and won a lot of games.
The Bonnies love to jack up three-pointers from deep, and they make them at a very high rate. In A-10 play this year, St. Bonaventure shot over 40% from beyond the arc as a team. If they can shoot that way tonight against Florida, the Gators are going to be in a lot of trouble.
This Florida Gator team is amongst the biggest head-scratcher teams in the country this year. At times they looked like national title contenders. Like when they beat a very good Gonzaga team in a classic game at Madison Square Garden, and then followed it up by almost beating Duke, who was ranked number one in the country at the time. The Gators also hold wins against Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri, and Cincinnati. When the Gators play their best game, they can beat any team in the country.
But the problem for Florida is that they very often don’t play their best game. This Gators team has losses to Mississippi, Georgia, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas on their resume. It has been a very strange season for Florida. They have beaten many of the good teams they have played and lost too many of the bad teams. It is like they have trouble getting up for the lower level games. You have to wonder how Florida will play tonight against a St. Bonnies teams that doesn’t always garner all that much respect from its big conference foes.
This is the beauty of the NCAA tournament. Two teams that likely would never have a chance to play each other that play completely different styles, matched up for our viewing pleasure. Every year we have a Cinderella team that gets hot in the tournament, beats a couple teams that they shouldn’t and become the talk of the nation. This year, I think that team is the St. Bonaventure Bonnies.
They are the prototypical Cinderella. They have a hard to pronounce name, with a funny sounding mascot, and nobody knows where they are from. e.g. the Gonzaga Bulldogs from Spokane, Washington, the Davidson Wildcats from Davidson, North Carolina, the Wichita State Shockers or the VCU Rams from I don’t know where!
Cinderella is always a small conference team that has a lot of swagger and knows how to win games. And they are usually matched up with a big conference team that finished in the middle of the pack of a tough league and has a couple more losses than they probably should have during league play.
Does the shoe fit for the Bonnies? I think that it does. Cinderella also is generally a team that uses hot shooting from deep to make up for the fact that they don’t match up all that evenly physically. That is what the Bonnies must do tonight to hang with the Gators.
Florida is big and physical and will run this team right off the court if they try and grind one out. But luckily for Cinderella, the Bonnies love to shoot from three and if they get hot tonight, they could absolutely upset the Gators.
Give me the St. Bonaventure Bonnies +5.5-points tonight and let’s see if the slipper fits!