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13.03.2024

La Salle vs. St. Bonaventure Game Preview and Pick: Explorers Don't Make it Easy on Bonnies

The first round of the A10 Tournament opened with fireworks, and La Salle was a big reason for that. Thanks to a huge second half from the Explorers' offense, La Salle edged out George Washington by one point, allowing them to keep playing today against St. Bonaventure.

When these teams met during the regular season, the Explorers jumped all over the Bonnies, and while they are underdogs again in this matchup, I think La Salle can make the Bonnies' path to the quarter-finals a complicated one.

Game Preview

Thanks to a 9-9 record in A10 play, St. Bonaventure earned themselves a first-round bye and the 7th seed in the tournament. Ultimately, the Bonnies could have secured an even better seed if they hadn’t stumbled near the finish line and lost their last two games of the regular season to double-digit seed teams in the tournament.

Based on Bart Torvik’s metrics, the Bonnies ranked 4th in the A10 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Still, in the final game of the regular season, they managed just 65 points against a below-average Saint Louis team. The Bonnies' leading scorer, Chad Venning, has been the team’s go-to guy, with a 30% usage rate this season. While he didn’t play his usual minutes, Venning did struggle a bit from the field in the regular season finale, scoring just eight points on 3-8 shooting to go along with three turnovers.

Overall, with guys like Venning and Mika Adams-Woods, the Bonnies were a slightly above-average shooting team compared to the rest of the conference, ranking 5th in effective field goal percentage and 3rd in three-point percentage, per Bart Torvik. The biggest reason why St. Bonaventure was a .500 conference team was their defense.

According to Bart Torvik, out of 15 A10 teams, the Bonnies were 12th in opponent effective field goal percentage and 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency. Those numbers are primarily why the Bonnies lost 72-59 in their lone matchup with La Salle this season. While the Explorers don’t have the best offensive metrics, they showed yesterday in the second half that their offense can get going quickly.

The Explorers rely mostly on Khalil Brantley and Jhamir Brickus for scoring, and that duo certainly put their team on their back yesterday, combining for 36 points on 6-12 shooting from three.

Pick for the Game

In their second game in two days, the La Salle Explorers are listed as (+8.5) point underdogs on the BetMGM Sportsbook, and I’m rolling with them as my play tonight. The Explorers may have their flaws, but they are playing a St. Bonaventure team that is 1-4 ATS in their last five games as favorites, and three of those losses were also outright, including their loss to La Salle.

La Salle is not a team that will live behind the three-point line or in the paint, as they like to do most of their scoring in the mid-range. According to Haslametrics, the Explorers rank 4th in the country in mid-range field goal attempts per 100 trips upcourt vs. the average opponent. Well, one of the biggest reasons they found success in their last meeting with the Bonnies, and should tonight as well, is that St. Bonaventure is 284th in the country in opponent mid-range shooting percentage, per Haslametrics.

The Bonnies follow a similar offensive game plan, as they also like to stick in the mid-range. While La Salle is equally as bad when it comes to defending the mid-range, they just need to play the Bonnies even and protect the ball, which is one of their strengths, to keep themselves within this number.

Recap

  • La Salle Explorers (+8.5)(-110) on BetMGM

*odds subject to change

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