This is a statement game for St. Bonaventure, as it would love to further enhance the image of an up and coming Atlanta 10 Conference with a win over an ACC foe, and it is catching NC State in a letdown spot.
A conference that is on the rise gets a chance to improve its image even more on Tuesday night when the NC State Wolfpack (6-4 overall, 0-1 away) pay a visit to the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (5-4 overall, 3-1 home) at Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, NY at 7:00 ET.
While this is officially a neutral site affair, St. Bonaventure should have most of the crowd support playing close to home. The Bonnies hail out of the Atlantic 10 Conference, which is now the second highest rated mid-major conference in the country according to the Pomeroy Ratings. This conference boasts seven teams that are currently ranked in the Pomeroy Top 100, and that includes these Bonnies at number 87.
As for NC State, this is a team that figured to be improved this season with seven of its top 10 scorers returning from last season including C.J. Leslie, who chose to forego the NBA Draft to come back for another year. We picked the Wolfpack to finish fifth in the ACC in our preseason preview, and they are off to a 6-4 start with all four losses coming vs. quality teams.
The first three losses came vs. Vanderbilt, Indiana and Stanford, and NC State hosted top ranked Syracuse on Saturday in Durham and the Orange pulled away late for the 88-72 win in a game that was close until the midway point of the second half. That puts the Wolfpack in a letdown spot on the NCAA Basketball odds tonight and we are looking for the hungry Bonnies to take full advantage with a statement win.
The point spread at 5 Dimes has St. Bonaventure as a small -1½ favorite for this contest at current odds of -102.
That Bonnies are 5-4, but none of their five wins have come vs. a team ranked higher than 82nd on the Pomeroy Ratings (Buffalo), so this is the biggest game for the school in many years from an exposure point of view. The team has been very competitive in three of its road losses vs. some good competition, losing by only five points at Illinois, by nine points at Virginia Tech and by three points at underrated Cleveland State.
Perhaps playing close to home is just what St. Bonaventure needs to get over the hump vs. a “name” school, and this team is fully capable of scoring on the NC State defense. That is because the Bonnies have a good effective field goal percentage of 50.7 percent an they are hitting on 50.5 percent of their two-point shots, while the Wolfpack defense ranks just 230th in effective field goal percentage against at 50.4 percent!
Now, NC State often wins due to its ability to crash the offensive glass, as the Pack rank 21st in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, grabbing their own missed shots 39.5 percent of the time. However, they will not have their usual big advantage in that department tonight since St. Bonaventure has a nice 36.0 percent offensive rebounding percentage in its own right.
Add this all up and we expect the Bonnies to get their most important win in a very long time this evening.
NCAA Basketball Pick: St. Bonaventure -1½ (-102)