BANKER (VCU Rams vs. St. Bonaventure)
The Bonnies had a lot of expectations coming into this year being highly regarded as one of the top mid majors in the country. They have struggled a bit lately due to injuries and lack of depth, but they have played a very tough schedule which should have them ready to play for conference play. Their only losses on the season have come at Virginia tech, at UConn, and a surprising loss to northern Iowa where their best player AJ green went unconscious for 35 points.
St Bonaventure is a senior laden team who is one of the most experienced teams in the country. Being at home in this huge conference game, I think they will lean on their experience and don’t think the moment will be too big for them. They face a VCU team who is stout defensively but struggles on offense. VCU is ranked 255th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency, 216th in effective field goal percentage, 337th in offensive turnover rate, and 338th in free throw shooting as a team so they really struggle to score.
The Bonnies have a very solid defense as well as they are just outside of the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency. I think this line is a bit short and was expecting a line closer to -4 so I think there’s some value here in getting the Bonnies at just under a possession at -2.5. In conference play, experience and guard play are everything and st Bonaventure is loaded in those two categories. Holmes, Lofton, and Adaway are all very capable of beating you off the dribble or from deep and I think these 3 guards will be the key to lead the Bonnies to a big-time conference win here. Score Prediction: 65-60 St Bonaventure
Davidson is a team that has exceeded expectations this season. They have very quality wins including wins over Alabama, Charlotte and East Carolina. Their only losses have come to San Francisco and NMSU who have a combined record of 29-4. Davidson is a very well coached team who runs efficient offense who can light it up from the outside. Davidson is ranked 2nd in the nation in 3-point shooting as a team, 20th in overall adjusted offensive efficiency, 6th in effective field goal percentage, and 10th in fewer turnover rate so they have been phenomenal on offense this season.
Richmond on the other hand, has struggled defensively as they are only 214th in the country in effective field goal percentage defense. Richmond is a team similar to St Bonaventure in that they were a highly publicized mid major coming into the season, but they have not lived up to expectations as their defense has let them down. They have allowed over 70 points in 9 of their 16 games and think Davidson will be able to exploit this with their potent offense. Score Prediction: 78-70 Davidson.
Kent state is a solid team out of the MAC who comes into this game with a 7-8 record, but they have been very hot and cold this season. They have lost brutal games to NIU, Central Michigan, and southern and have also Einstein games against Toledo, ball state, and played competitively with West Virginia. In this matchup, Kent state faces an Akron team who is much improved but yet is still an underdog? The line here is very telling me because on paper Akron should probably be the favorite but going on the road in conference play is very hard, espy against a desperate team in Kent state who needs wins to stay afloat in the condense race. Overall, I think this a spot where we see Akron come out flat. Kent state is the more motivated team and I think that will help them to grab a much-needed win at home here. Score Prediction: 71-66 Kent state.