On Sunday, in Dayton, Ohio, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (15-4, 11-4 Conf.) will tackle the Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) Rams (19-6, 10-4 Conf.) within the Atlantic 10 Championship recreation.
The sport tips-off at 1 pm on CBS.
This marks the second consecutive look for St. Bonaventure within the Atlantic 10 Championship recreation; the Bonnies misplaced to the St. Louis Billikens within the 2019 title recreation.
Two years in the past, the Bonnies needed to win the title to get into the NCAA Event. This time round, the stakes are completely different. A Bona win over VCU would assist enhance St. Bonaventure’s seed within the Huge Dance. A loss, in the meantime, will nonetheless hold them within the subject.
The identical goes for VCU. A Ram win will enhance their seed line. A VCU loss, nonetheless, could drop the Rams into the First 4.
So let’s have a look into the VCU Rams, who St. Bonaventure will play for the third time this season.
Scouting the VCU Rams
Like St. Bonaventure, VCU has had a terrific season. The Rams received 19 of their 25 video games. They scored some huge wins over Utah State, Memphis, St. Bonaventure, and St. Louis. And, they’ve Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, the 2020-21 Atlantic 10 Participant of the Yr, main the best way. VCU has some depth too. They are going to be a troublesome out within the NCAA Event, no matter who they play.
Season Cut up
Within the first assembly between Bona and VCU, on January 20 on the Reilly Heart, the Bonnies shot 42.6% from the sector and dedicated 15 turnovers. This recreation was actually a story of two halves as VCU led by 15 on the break. Within the second half, the Bonnies outscored VCU 45-14 as they went on to win 70-54. The Bona protection, not “Havoc,” shut issues down within the closing 20 minutes.
Three weeks later in Richmond, these two groups squared off once more. VCU prevailed 67-64 because the Rams grabbed 19 offensive rebounds. VCU’s dominance on the glass proved to be the distinction. The Bonnies dedicated 15 turnovers but once more and shot 44% from the sector, much better than VCU, who shot 36%.
When trying again on these two video games, the Bonnies might want to do a greater job rebounding they usually should take higher care of the basketball. Bona can not enable VCU to get second probabilities nor can they afford to provide the ball up greater than 15 instances, or else VCU will capitalize on these errors.
For the final decade-plus, the VCU Rams have prided themselves on their “Havoc” protection, which ranks because the tenth best protection within the nation, in response to KenPom.
VCU employs full-court stress for your complete recreation, utilizing their athleticism to drive turnovers in bunches. This season, groups which have performed VCU have dedicated a turnover nearly 25% of the time. A variety of these turnovers come off of steals: the Rams drive a steal on 13.3% of their opponents’ possessions. That mark ranks second within the nation, in response to KenPom.
The Rams have allowed simply 64.8 factors per recreation (PPG), which ranks third within the convention behind St. Bonaventure and Davidson. For what it’s price, the Bonnies enable simply 60.1 PPG, which ranks first within the Atlantic 10 and fourth (!!!) nationally.
Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, the 6’3″ guard from Wilmington, DE, has had one terrific season. The Sophomore sensation averages 19.4 PPG and shoots 37.2% from downtown. Rightfully so, Bones Hyland is the 2020-21 Atlantic 10 Participant of the Yr. Relaxation assured that we’ll see Bones on the subsequent degree. He has NBA lottery-pick potential.
Again on February 20, in a loss to George Mason, Hyland sprained his foot, which compelled him to overlook the 2 subsequent video games towards St. Louis and at Davidson.
This isn’t the primary time Bones Hyland has confronted a setback, nonetheless. As my colleague, Jason Boleman wrote Friday, Bones lost his grandmother and his cousin in a house fire on March 25, 2018. He now has a tattoo to function a remembrance for them. Barely three years later, Bones Hyland has emerged as top-of-the-line gamers within the nation.
Within the two video games towards the Bonnies this 12 months, Hyland demonstrated that he’s a top-tier participant, scoring 16 and 22, respectively.
Within the second recreation between these two groups, Bones scored 9 of his 22 factors from the free-throw line. He shot the ball poorly in that recreation, however Bona gave up too many offensive rebounds and dedicated too many fouls. Therefore why Hyland made a visit to the charity stripe ten instances.
If he doesn’t damage you together with his shot, he can damage you from the road. Bones has made 85.6% of his free-throw makes an attempt this season.
He’s the most effective participant within the convention and a future NBA Star. The Bonnies could have their arms full with him on Sunday.
Mike Rhoades, VCU’s Head Coach, has one of many deepest groups within the Atlantic 10.
9 VCU Rams common 16 minutes or extra. Six Rams rating not less than 6.0 PPG. To make use of “Havoc,” the Rams must rotate guys out and in to maintain everybody contemporary.
Two VCU Rams to be careful for are Vince Williams and Levi Stockard III.
Williams, the 6’6″ Junior, averages 10.6 PPG. He scored 11 factors in every recreation towards the Bonnies. Just like Hyland, Williams suffered a late-season harm too. As an alternative of spraining his foot, Williams sprained his ankle. Fortunately, the Junior didn’t need to miss a recreation. However he solely performed 17 minutes within the Quarterfinal victory over Dayton. He failed to attain towards the Flyers. Williams bought again on the scoreboard within the Semifinals versus Davidson, nonetheless. He scored eight factors and shot two of seven from the ground.
Levi Stockard III, the large bodily Senior from St. Louis, has scored eight factors in every recreation towards Bona. He averages 6.6 PPG and shoots 55.4% from the sector. He doesn’t shoot usually, however when he does, there’s a good likelihood it goes in. He’s a wise, powerful, and environment friendly participant. Stockard mixed to attain ten factors within the wins over Dayton and Davidson final week.
One other participant to be careful for is Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr. He has began each recreation to date this season and he averages 4.4 assists per recreation. The Freshman from Baltimore didn’t rating on the Reilly Heart the primary time these two groups met. However within the rematch, Ace stepped it up; he scored seven and recorded 4 assists.
Be careful for Hason Ward too. He’ll possible matchup towards Bona’s Osun Osunniyi. Ward leads the workforce in rebounds, averaging 5.2 boards per recreation.
Control Jamir Watkins and KeShawn Curry as effectively, each of whom see not less than 18 minutes per recreation coming off the bench. These two mix to common 13.2 PPG.
How Do The Bonnies Lower Down the Nets in Dayton?
For the Bonnies to beat the VCU Rams for the second time this season, Bona should (1) proceed to undergo Osun, (2) get Adaway concerned, (3) restrict turnovers, and (4) compete on the boards.
St. Bonaventure Ahead Osun Osunniyi dominated each Duquesne and St. Louis final weekend.
In opposition to Duquesne, the offense went by means of Osunniyi within the put up. When the ball goes by means of him within the paint, the offense shines. His stat line towards the Dukes: 18 factors, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and he shot 69% from the ground. Simply a tremendous efficiency for the 6’10” Junior from South Jersey.
The following day, versus St. Louis, Osunniyi had one other memorable efficiency.
Though he didn’t report a double-double, Osunniyi completed the sport with eight blocks! He had seven of these within the first half. Osun’s block social gathering jogged my memory of one thing the late John Thompson told Patrick Ewing before the 1982 National Championship game against North Carolina, “go up after it and don’t fear about goaltending. Set up the truth that you’re going up. A child is conscious of the truth that you blocked his shot, whether or not it’s goaltending or not.”
Just like the Tar Heels 39 years in the past, the Billikens shortly turned conscious of Osunniyi’s presence across the rim. By the top of the primary half, the Payments regarded timid. They may not get any attractiveness inside. ‘Shoon appeared to swat every little thing to the moon.
On Sunday towards VCU, Osunniyi must hold enjoying aggressively on each side of the ball. In fact, he wants to remain out of foul bother, which he has finished effectively as of late. If he can try this, the sky is the restrict for the Atlantic 10 Defensive Participant of the Yr. In spite of everything, ‘Shoon is averaging near a double-double: 10.3 PPG and 9.5 rebounds per recreation.
All Aboard Flight 33
Again on February 11, within the press convention main as much as the second recreation towards VCU, I requested St. Bonaventure Head Coach Mark Schmidt to speak about Jalen Adaway. Schmidt, the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Yr, praised the Junior and mentioned:
“He’s an undersized four-man, VCU has bought some huge guys, however he performs a lot greater than he’s. He’s essentially the most athletic man we’ve bought on our workforce. He’s enjoying with much more confidence offensively, taking pictures the ball a bit bit higher. He’s nice on our baseline. However sitting out final 12 months, it’s at all times a problem to return again and be aggressive and I believe that he’s discovering his recreation because the season goes alongside. As he performs higher, we’re gonna be a greater workforce. He’s a mismatch downside for different groups.”
All of this stays true a month later. Jalen Adaway has been an issue for opposing groups down the stretch. He has given VCU suits this season too. In his two video games towards the Rams this 12 months, Adaway has averaged 16.0 PPG.
He scored 12 towards Duquesne within the Quarterfinals after which he had 17 final Saturday within the win over St. Louis.
Actually, because the starting of February, Adaway has scored in double figures in each recreation aside from one.
When Adaway is on, the Bonnies are borderline unstoppable. He has performed effectively towards the Rams already this season, so let’s see if he can hold it rolling on Sunday. The Bonnies will want some manufacturing from Flight 33 to chop down the nets.
St. Bonaventure has finished a superb job in caring for the ball this season. The Bonnies have a turnover margin of +1.79, which ranks fourth within the convention.
In fact, having Level Guard Kyle Lofton helps.
Lofton, who made the All-Convention First Crew, dishes out 5.5 assists per recreation and commits simply 2.6 turnovers per contest. Thus, his help to turnover ratio is 2.11.
Lofton truly leads the nation in share of minutes performed, in response to KenPom. So for him to common simply 2.6 turnovers is kind of spectacular.
To beat VCU, Bona should take excellent care of the basketball. The “Havoc” press forces turnovers in bunches, which shortly turns into Ram factors.
Compete on the Boards
The final time these two groups performed, VCU dominated the glass. The Rams grabbed 19 rebounds and prevailed by three. Coach Schmidt cited this as the important thing distinction within the recreation.
Presently, the Bonnies rank fourth within the convention in rebounding, averaging near 37 per recreation. In the meantime, VCU averages 34.4 boards per recreation, which ranks eighth within the Atlantic 10.
Moreover, St. Bonaventure ranks second within the convention in offensive rebounding share, in response to KenPom. The Bonnies do a superb job of following their photographs and crashing the glass once they have the ball. The identical can’t be mentioned about VCU, nonetheless. The Rams have allowed its opponents to seize an offensive rebound 31.6% of the time, which ranks useless final within the convention. For context, the Division I common is 27.9%, in response to KenPom.
For the Bonnies to win, they don’t essentially need to win the battle of the boards, they only need to compete. VCU isn’t an amazing rebounding workforce, so Bona ought to deal with the basics and boxing out. Bona can not let VCU dominate the glass once more; in the event that they do, it could be inexcusable.
Earlier than making my decide, right here is an replace on The Bubble from @SBUnfurled:
An up to date have a look at The Bubble by way of @bracketproject. The Bonnies are 14 spots above the lower line, whereas VCU is 10 spots above.
Final 4 In: Drake, Colorado St., Boise St., Xavier.
First 4 Out: Syracuse, Ole Miss, Utah State, Saint Louis. pic.twitter.com/i5LliEJlXz
— SBUnfurled (@SBUnfurled) March 10, 2021
If Bona wins Sunday, it could mark the primary time that the St. Bonaventure Bonnies win each the Common Season title and the Convention Event in the identical season. I really consider that if the Bonnies win, the Brown and White might see themselves as excessive as a 7-seed when the Bracket is revealed on Sunday night.
With this in thoughts, I really feel assured within the Bonnies. Bona rolled over Duquesne and St. Louis final week they usually have had every week off to relaxation and recuperate.
Just like the 2 earlier conferences, I envision one other slugfest between the highest two groups within the “mighty” Atlantic 10 Convention. I believe Osun Osunniyi leads the Bonnies to the title and he wins Atlantic 10 Event MVP honors.
St. Bonaventure 66, VCU 62