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St Bonaventure



March Madness



The night game on Tuesday should be fun with a lot of points. Even for a play-in game, the talent between these teams is more than you’d usually see. Both have high-level players that could be playing in the NBA someday. UCLA opened as a -3.5 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

UCLA made it here after an up-and-down season that featured getting swept by Colorado, but also beating Kentucky on a neutral court, as well as Arizona and USC on the road. The Bruins have plenty of talent, yet without much defense, that wasn't enough to win consistently.  

As for the Bonnies, they closed the season with 13-straight wins before losing to Davidson in the A10 tournament. That said, beating up on A10 teams isn’t all that impressive and they also lost games to Niagara and Dayton, although without top player Jaylen Adams in tow. But as seen in that loss to Davidson, this team isn’t any easier to trust than UCLA.

UCLA’s offense, which ranks 23rd in the country in adjusted efficiency, stands out the most between these teams. And while both teams have great outside shooting numbers, St. Bonaventure only has two guys that shoot regularly in Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley. The best thing about this game will be the point guard matchup between Adams and Aaron Holiday. It was only a month ago that Adams was scoring 40 points in back-to-back games and that may be needed to win a game like this.

The difference for these teams is that UCLA actually has some size with Thomas Welsh and Gyorgy Goloman both able to stretch the floor. Then there’s freshman Kris Wilkes (6-foot-8), who could be a major matchup problem for the Bonnies as they always have four guys at 6-foot-6 or shorter on the court. Stopping the Bruins is going to be an issue for the Bonnies, whether that’s against the bigs or against Holiday, who sets up everyone around him.

The good news for the Bonnies is that UCLA’s defense is also lacking and while it has more size, that hasn’t meant much this season. Neither of these teams is great on the glass and UCLA is one of the worst at forcing turnovers. UCLA’s main goal will be to stop Adams and Mobley and if it can do that just a little, it may be enough. The Bruins will likely throw Prince Ali and Jaylen Hands on Adams or even the taller Wilkes to try and limit what the guard can do. To win, the Bonnies need more from everyone else like Courtney Stockard and LaDarien Griffin, the two leading rebounders on the team.

In the end, the Bonnies haven’t seen offensive talent like this probably all season and that will shine through for UCLA, especially if the shots fall. When faced against a team with a balanced offense like this, the Bonnies gave up 89 points to TCU earlier in the season. Other than that, there isn’t a great matchup to compare with UCLA. Davidson has an efficient offense, but it also runs certain sets that the Bonnies figured out after three games against each other. When faced with Holiday, Wilkes and Welsh, the Bonnies may keep it close, but that won’t be enough to win.

Our Pick - UCLA -3.5

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