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Both teams kept their NCAA Tournament dreams alive by advancing in the quarterfinal round on Friday, putting them just two victories away from an automatic bid in the Big Dance. After upsetting No. 1-seed VCU, will Rhode Island still have enough in the tank to beat the Bonnies on Saturday afternoon?
Rams take out top-seeded VCU
Rhode Island pulled off an unlikely upset on Friday, taking down top-seeded VCU 75-70 behind a strong second half. Jeff Dowtin scored 22 points, while Tyrese Martin chipped in 13 for the Rams, who forced 13 turnovers and held VCU to just 39.7 percent shooting from the field to advance to the semifinals.
JEFF FREAKING DOWTIN pic.twitter.com/zydtxyK1tK
— A10 Talk (@A10Talk) March 15, 2019
David Cox’s squad comes into the weekend ranked No. 137 in the latest KenPom rankings after winning their last six games. Rhode Island has scored 104.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (177th in the NCAA) and 100.9 points per 100 possessions versus A10 opponents (8th in the A10). Poor three-point shooting and missed opportunities at the free throw line have hurt the Rams efficiency on offense this year. They have shot just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc (14th in the A10) and 66.1 percent from the charity stripe as a team (12th in the A10). However, the Rams attack the basket and get to the free throw line at a 37.8 percent rate (2nd in the A10).
On defense, Rhode Island has surrendered 100.6 points per 100 possessions for the year (108th in the NCAA) and 102.9 points per 100 possessions during conference play (8th in the A10). The Rams rely on forcing turnovers to get stops, but their defensive pressure has left them vulnerable in drive-and-kick situations. Rhode Island has forced opposing teams to turn the ball over on 20.0 percent of their defensive possessions in league play (3rd in the A10), but they have hurt the Rams from 3-point range, shooting 36.7 percent from deep against Rhode Island’s defense (14th in the A10).
Bonnies finish strong against George Mason
St. Bonaventure won their first game of the A10 Tournament on Friday, advancing in the quarterfinal round with a 68-57 victory over the George Mason Patriots. Dominick Welch and Kyle Lofton scored 20 points apiece for the Bonnies, while LaDarien Griffin added 10 points and 11 rebounds to keep their season alive. St. Bonaventure shot 10-for-24 from 3-point range and committed just seven turnovers on the night to cruise to victory despite going scoreless over the first 5 minutes of the first half.
Kyle Lofton (@Kloft0) put the finishing touches on a STRONG @BonniesMBB win while hearing the love from @wojespn & the Bona Faithful before tomorrow’s A-10 semi vs URI. Little bro from @PSAhoops watched Lofton go for 20pts/5ast/3reb & control the pace from start-to-finish pic.twitter.com/oJStqActxX
— Mike Yagmin (@MikeYagmin) March 15, 2019
Mark Schmidt’s squad enters the semifinals slotted at No. 126 in the latest KenPom rankings. The Bonnies have struggled on offense, scoring just 101.6 points per 100 possessions for the year (225th in the NCAA) and 101.7 points per 100 possessions during league play (7th in the A10). The Bonnies take care of the basketball at a high level, turning the ball over on only 17.5 percent of their offensive possessions (5th in the A10), but they sport an effective field goal percentage of just 48.2 percent (9th in the A10).
On defense, the Bonnies have surrendered just 97.2 points per 100 possessions for the season (57th in the NCAA), and they’ve been even more stingy versus league opponents, giving up just 94.4 points per 100 possessions during conference play (2nd in the A10).
- Under is 7-0 in Bonnies last 7 vs. Atlantic 10.
- Under is 6-0 in Bonnies last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 6-1 in Bonnies last 7 neutral site games.
- Rams are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Rams took down VCU in impressive fashion on Friday and they beat the Bonnies in their only meeting this season on Jan. 16. Rhode Island is the more well-rounded team and since neither of these teams can really shoot the 3-ball efficiently, I’ll take my chances with the Rams covering the spread in this semifinal round matchup on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Pick: Rhode Island Rams +2
Full-Game Total Pick
Both of these teams rely on their defensive effort to stay in games, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this one turn into a low-scoring affair. The Bonnies play one of the slowest paces in the conference and they’ve gone under the projected total in seven straight conference games. The under is 22-9-1 in St. Bonaventure’s last 31 games overall and with the Rams playing their third game in three days, fatigue could be a factor here. Take the under in this A10 Tournament battle at the Barclays Center on Saturday afternoon.
Prediction: Under 127