The Atlantic-10 conference tournament championship is on the line on Sunday. Regular season champion St. Bonaventure (15-4) will take on VCU (14-10-1) for the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The two teams have played twice already this season and that tells bettors a lot about how to approach Sunday’s matchup.
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Game: VCU Rams (19-6,14-10-1 ATS) at St. Bonaventure (15-4, 12-5-2 ATS)
When: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, March 14, 2021
Where: UD Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Current Line: OFF Total: Off
TV Coverage: CBS
Can the Bonnies Do It?
Since the 2011-12 season, head coach Mark Schmidt has taken St. Bonaventure to two A-10 regular season titles and two bids to the NCAA tournament. The Bonnies have had winning seasons in all but one since 2012.
The Bonnies are led by Kyle Lofton who averages 14.2 points per game. Where St. Bonaventure really earns its keep is on defense. Schmidt’s team gives up just 60.7 points per game and ranks 17th in the nation in defensive efficiency.
It’s the same on the other end where VCU gives up more points per game - 64.8 - but ranks higher than the Bonnies in defensive efficiency - 12th. One thing VCU head coach Mike Rhoades has continued since taking over for Shaka Smart is applying defensive pressure. The Rams have given up 70 or more points just once since the beginning of February.
St. Bonaventure has held each of its last six opponents to fewer than 60 points. The last team to score over 60 against the Bonnies was VCU in a 67-64 St. Bonaventure victory on Feb. 12. Our last article here was a Pacers at Knicks betting preview … go see how we did.
With two wins over VCU already, the Bonnies are looking to punch their ticket to the Big Dance with a victory on Sunday. Regardless of who wins on Sunday, both teams are slated to make the 68-team tournament field. The Rams are a team that many feel could be one of those Cinderellas that make an improbable run to at least the Sweet Sixteen.
As it stands, St. Bonaventure is favored to win the title game and earn the automatic bid. The latest bracket shows the Bonnies as a No. 9 seed. With a loss, the Rams would likely end up as a No. 11 seed. A victory on Sunday could essentially switch those seeds.
VCU was a No. 11 seed when it made its run to the Final Four in 2011. Either way, both teams will not be an easy out in the NCAA tournament. That said, both would rather earn the automatic bid. That is why Sunday’s game will be a close one played between two teams that are very good defensively. In the prior meetings, St. Bonaventure was favored by two at home and VCU was favored by three at home. On a neutral floor, the edge will likely go to the Bonnies by a point or two.
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VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Free Pick
But, the real value is playing the total. Both teams trend toward the Under. The total in Bonnies games has gone Under 14 of 19 times. The Under is 16-9 in VCU games. In each of the two previous meetings, the total went Under.
Most recently, the Under is 6-1 in St. Bonaventure games and 5-2 in VCU games. Play the Under all the way down to 136.
VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Free Pick: UNDER down to 136