NCAA Basketball Pick: St. Bonaventure vs. La Salle

LT Profits Sports Group

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 5:00 AM GMT

After making an NCAA Tournament run in 2013, La Salle will not be returning to the Big Dance as it looks to snap a five-game losing streak vs. St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.

It has been a disappointing season for the home team after a surprising NCAA Tournament run last year, although it does have a nice chance to snap a five-game losing streak Wednesday night when the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (16-11, 4-7 away) pay a visit to those La Salle Explorers (12-14, 8-4 home) at Tom Gola Arena in Philadelphia, PA at 7:00 ET.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has La Salle as the tiniest of home favorites with the current line at Pick’em but with odds of -112.

Many casual fans remember La Salle making an unexpected run to the Sweet 16 last season before losing to a fellow Cinderella from Wichita State. The Shockers went on to reach the Final Four and throw a scare into Louisville, and they have parlayed that into a 30-0 season this year so far. Unfortunately the Explorers have regressed and their goal now it just to finish with a winning record, which would give them good momentum for the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

St. Bonaventure has a good 16-11 record overall, but keep in mind that the Bonnies went 10-4 vs. a non-conference schedule that ranked 280th in the county in SOS, and they are only 6-7 inside the Atlantic 10. Furthermore they are only 4-7 in true road games for the season as well as just 2-4 on the Atlantic 10 road.

La Salle is not as deep as it was last season, which may be its problem this year as although all five starters were on that team that made the NCAA run last year some have had to take on added responsibility after being role players off the bench a year ago.

Also facing a tough non-conference schedule did not help matters either as the Explorers went 8-6 out of conference with five of the six losses coming to teams in the Pomeroy Top 100 including ninth ranked Villanova.

Still, La Salle has not responded as favorably as expected after facing those good teams early on as the Explorers are just 4-8 in conference play and they have lost five straight games and eight of their last nine since beginning Atlantic 10 play at 3-0.

It should be pointed out though that five of those eight recent losses were on the road and of the three home losses, two were to definite NCAA Tournament teams this year in Saint Louis and VCU and the third was to a probable NCAA participant in St. Joseph’s. The lone win probably came in the most winnable game during this stretch here at home vs. Duquesne, and now this seems like a winnable home game again tonight.

Beside the aforementioned road difficulties for St. Bonaventure this season which includes four losses to team ranking worst than 100th on Pomeroy, the Bonnies are coming off of a bad 87-78 home loss to 135th ranked Rhode Island, and they even lost to the Duquesne (174th) team that La Salle managed to beat recently.

When St. Bonaventure wins games, it relies heavily on its offensive rebounding, and deservedly so as the Bonnies rank 28th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage at 37.2 percent vs. a national average of 31.5 percent and they lead the A-10 in that category during conference play. However, this is one game where they may not have their usual advantage on the glass as La Salle boasts the conference’s rebounding leader in Steve Zach with his 9.8 per game.

La Salle is currently 12-14, but Coach John Giannini has publicly stated that his biggest goal right now is for the team to finish with a winning season. Look for the Explorers to move one step closer to that goal with a home win on Wednesday.

[gameodds]14/259385/?r-1=238-92-43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

NCAA Basketball Pick: La Salle PICK (-112)

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