I’m not sure why it’s more customary to use “St.” for St. Bonaventure and spell out “Saint” for Saint Louis, but the slightly different Saints get together today at noon for an Atlantic-10 Quarterfinal matchup with win-or-go home implications for the Bonnies. The Billikens come off a first round bye to take on the #9 seed in the conference and open up as six-point favorites to move onto the semifinals.
I like this spot for St. Bonaventure quite a bit here. Let’s start with the reasoning behind fading Saint Louis. The Billikens’ struggles have been pretty well documented ever since they began when Saint Louis was ranked tenth in the entire country. SLU ascended the national rankings with 19-game winning streak that came to a crashing hault, beginning at home to Duquesne and then continuing over the next two games, at VCU and at home again to Dayton. SLU eked out a two-point win at Massachusetts on a Jordair Jett game-winning layup. But Saint Louis is not playing well. The Billikens certainly aren’t one of the ten best teams in the country, so they were bound to suffer some regression at some point but I think it might be a little more than that. SLU simply doesn’t have much offensive firepower, which makes them susceptible at this point in the season, when teams are as polished as ever. It also makes them a viable fade option as a team that’s almost certainly going to give points in the Atlantic-10 without winning big often.
On the other side of things, the Bonnies are playing well and know that this is it for them. If St. Bonaventure can’t win the A-10 Tournament, which it really thinks it can do, it certainly won’t be participating in the NCAA Tournament. The Bonnies are more dynamic than SLU and have what I consider an advantage today playing after already having won a game yesterday. St. Bonaventure will come out strong against a SLU team that is experiencing some poor play and might be rusty. I had the winner of the St. Bonaventure/LaSalle game pegged to cover today against Saint Louis and the number and spot here isn’t holding me back from following through on that. Of the last 22 picks, 18 have covered. And when you’re hot you ride the fire.
Free Pick: St. Bonaventure +6