We’ve arrived on Selection Sunday for the 2021 NCAA Tournament. This will be the first Selection Sunday since 2019 after the 2020 edition was called off because of the emergence of Covid-19. The absence left a huge void in the month of March for college basketball fans, but it’s only going to make this year all the more satisfying.
Several conferences have already settled their tournaments and awarded a champion. There are still five games left before the NCAA Tournament. The SEC and Big Ten of the power conferences will conclude their tournaments on Sunday, while the Patriot League, Atlantic 10, and AAC have a championship game today as well.
I’m going to skip the power conference games and focus on the A-10. For prep work for the NCAA Tournament, I am going to be paying attention no doubt. The Ohio State Buckeyes and Illinois Fighting Illini game is of particular interest. Ohio State upset Michigan by a point on Saturday, 67-66, to advance to the championship on Sunday.
The A-10 Tournament played out as expected in Dayton this season. The No. 2 seed, Virginia Commonwealth Rams, and No. 1 seed, St. Bonaventure Bonnies, are scheduled to play for the conference this afternoon for an automatic ticket to the NCAA Tournament. For mid-major programs, winning the conference is often what is required to go dancing.
However, for VCU and St. Bonaventure, they are likely in regardless of what happens on Sunday. VCU had a steady season at 19-6, while St. Bonaventure goes into the A-10 Championship at 15-4. That’s a solid enough resume to put the Rams and Bonnies in even with another loss on one of their resumes.
VCU got to this point with a 73-68 win over Dayton and 64-52 win over Davidson on March 6. Conversely, St. Bonaventure pulled away easily to beat Duquesne, 75-59, and Saint Louis, 71-53, most recently on March 6. That was an impressive win against a fairly decent Saint Louis team. Beating Saint Louis that handedly isn’t so simple as the Bonnies made it look. Head below for our free VCU vs. St. Bonaventure pick on March 14, 2021.
VCU Rams vs. St. Bonaventure A-10 Championship Betting Odds:
VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Prediction:
St. Bonaventure were the most complete team in the A-10 this season, and in their first two tournament matchups, that was in full display on both ends of the floor. They can win with their offense, defense, or both. In the NCAA Tournament, they’re going to need both the offense and defense to come together.
When it comes down to it, the Bonnies are going to need their defense to continue to be aggressive in the NCAA Tournament. Defense is their identity and they did a terrific job at frustrating offenses this season.
Note that the Bonnies are seventh in the NCAA with only 60.6 points conceded per game. Teams are shooting just 39.2% against St. Bonaventure. They’ve turned it up to another level down the stretch this season, and into the A-10 Tournament. The Bonnies have allowed only 52.2 points per game through their last five games.
VCU needs a solid game plan to counter the aggressive Bonnies’ defense. St. Bonaventure made it look easy against Davidson and Saint Louis in the first two rounds, holding them to 59 and 53 points. Don’t be surprised if the Bonnies stay hot defensively and hold VCU in check on Sunday. A team hasn’t scored more than 60 points against St. Bonaventure since February 12.
That team was the Rams, who beat the Bonnies by a score of 67-64. That was at VCU, though, so the Rams were the beneficiaries of home court advantage in that one. In their last five outings, VCU has scored an average of 67.4 points per game. They are going to need to do better if VCU is going to crack more than 60 points against the Bonnies again.
The Rams have a strong defense as well, but I’d put them a tier behind St. Bonaventure. They’ve conceded 65.2 points per game for 53rd in the NCAA. In their last five contests, they have allowed 65.8 points a game. VCU had to battle and hang in there against Dayton and Davidson. Conversely, St. Bonaventure was in near perfect form against Duquesne and Saint Louis.
VCU and St. Bonaventure took a split this season, with St. Bonaventure clearing the Rams with ease at home on January 20, 70-54. That is classic St. Bonaventure. They’ve won many games this season with a similar score. Back at VCU, the Rams edged the Bonnies out, 67-64. St. Bonaventure went 3-0 on a neutral court this season, while VCU went 2-1. This should be close throughout, with St. Bonaventure’s relentless defense too much for the Rams to handle in the second-half. I like the Bonnies 67-61 to win and cover.