Small-Conference Knowledge Pays Off with St. Bonaventure vs. Florida

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 8:31 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2018 8:31 PM UTC

No. 23 Florida, the six seed in the East, plays 11-seed St. Bonaventure on Thursday at 9:57 p.m. ET in Dallas. The Gators are favored by 5.5 points, but should you back them?

Florida (20-12 SU, 16-16 ATS) vs. St. Bonaventure (25-7 SU, 16-15 ATS)Free NCAAB Pick: St. Bonaventure +5.5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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This matchup will hinge on each team's ability to execute its strength on offense. Both teams are strongest from three, ranking in the top 50 in three-point percentage but outside the top 200 in two-point percentage.

The Bonnies are significantly stronger than Florida at contesting the three and will therefore deny Florida's three-point shooters a greater degree of scoring opportunities than Florida can deny them. The Bonnies rank 320nd in opposing proportion of attempted threes allowed but 24th in opposing three-point percentage. So teams attempt many threes against them but typically with poor results. The Bonnies tend to struggle against elite three-point shooting teams who are equipped to take advantage of their three-point opportunities. For instance, Davidson walloped SBU twice by double digits and, in non-conference play, TCU also beat them by double digits. In each of those games, SBU allowed more than 40 percent from behind the arc. But against the not-so-elite -- teams ranking outside the top 30 in three-point efficiency -- the Bonnies have enjoyed better results and not suffered damage from three. For example, Maryland lost SU on Nov. 24 as 9.5-point favorites vs. SBU, going 5-for-23 from three. Florida ranks 55th in three-point shooting and falls outside of that elite category.

The Gators won't be at their best from three. A longer rest is more apt to affect a team that relies more heavily on jump shots because of the rust that can accumulate. The Gators will not have played since the preceding Friday. They have repeatedly struggled to prosper from their three-point shooting after enduring such a break. For example, after not playing from Nov. 27 to Dec. 3, they lost 83-66 vs. an atrocious road team in Florida State, going 6-for-25 from three. They have the problem of relying too heavily on three-point shooting. Taking bad shots allows the other team to achieve defensive rebounds -- even if they don't have a physical advantage down low -- and score easier points in transition. This has been a struggle for Florida recently, such as in the SEC Tournament against Arkansas. The Gators will surely come out firing against the Bonnies' perimeter defense but their struggles will make it easier for the Bonnies to score.

Florida ranks 216th in opposing three-point percentage, but the Bonnies rank 24th in three-point percentage. They are led by point guard Jaylen Adams, who ranks 58th in three-point percentage. But the gamer who leads SBU is forward Courtney Stockard, who has scored 20-plus points in four of his past five games. He is dangerous from both two and three, and converted more than 50 percent of his threes in three of his past five games.

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Another plus for St. Bonaventure will be free-throw shooting. The Gators can struggle to keep opposing teams off the foul line. The Bonnies rank 39th in proportion of free throws attempted and boast two players who rank in the top 120 in free-throw percentage.

So the underdog on the college basketball odds board is equipped to exploit favored Florida's weaknesses, while the vice versa can't be said. Matchup factors suggest that the value is with the dog in our NCAAB picks.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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