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RICHMOND, VA - DECEMBER 07: Head coach Mike Rhoades of the VCU Rams calls a play in the first half during a game against the Old Dominion Monarchs at Stuart C. Siegel Center on December 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

VCU and St. Bonaventure were each picked in the top four of the Atlantic 10 Preseason Media Poll, and both have aspirations to earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. We give our favorite VCU-St. Bonaventure picks for Friday’s matchup.

VCU (10-4, 3-0) is currently tied with Davidson atop the Atlantic 10 standings. The Rans enter this game on a seven-game win streak and have won all four of their road contests.

St. Bonaventure (9-3, 1-0) came off a 25-day COVID-19 pause on Tuesday, and beat La Salle in overtime in its first game action since the holiday break. The Bonnies had lost their two previous games to UConn and Virginia Tech in the Basketball Hall of Fame Shootout in Charlotte, NC. The Bonnies are 4-3 in their last seven after starting the season 5-0.

Here are my picks and predictions for Friday’s college basketball Game of the Day between VCU and St. Bonaventure (odds via DraftKings Sportsbook; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).

VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Game Info

Date/Time: Friday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m. ETTV: ESPN2Location: Reilly Center, St. Bonaventure, NY

VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Analysis

St. Bonaventure is a 3-point home favorite and has been favored in each of its six home games this year. However, the Bonnies are just 1-5 against the spread as home favorites, while VCU is 5-0 as an underdog with two covers in two games as a road dog. This is just the second time the Rams have not been favored in their last eight games. 

The 131-point total is the second-lowest of St. Bonaventure’s last nine games. The Over cashed in six of the Bonnies’ previous seven games and each of VCU’s previous two games.

VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Picks

VCU +3 (-115) ??Under 131 (-110) ????

SEE ALSO: All College Basketball Picks

VCU vs. St. Bonaventure Predictions

VCU +3 (-115)

St. Bonaventure got a big boost in its last two games as senior point guard Kyle Lofton returned from a three-game absence after suffering an ankle injury. The Bonnies were a different team without Lofton as they scored their second-fewest points (64) in a loss to UConn without him. In Lofton’s first game back from injury, he scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting and committed five turnovers in a 37-point loss to Virginia Tech.

VCU’s Ace Baldwin is the perfect foil to Lofton’s scoring ability. Baldwin is a menacing defender who finished second in the league in steals as a freshman. His ability to pressure Lofton and wear him down throughout the game will be critical to the Rams' success.

St. Bonaventure is not a deep team, as five players average more than 29 minutes per game. That is an issue for a Bonnies team coming off an overtime game and also playing their second game back from a 25-day COVID pause. We expect them to have weary legs in the second half of this game.

Under 131 (-110)

Along with Baldwin’s ability to limit Lofton’s scoring potential, the Rams and Bonnies each have big men that were named to the Preseason Atlantic 10 All-Defensive Team. VCU’s Hason Ward and St. Bonaventure’s Osun Ossunniyi are among the league leaders in blocked shots. Their presence in the lane makes opposing guards think twice about penetrating.

VCU as a whole has been one of the best defensive teams in the country, and the Rams rank in the top three nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, effective field goal percentage defense, and 3-point percentage allowed. Conversely, VCU’s offense ranks outside the top 230 in adjusted offensive efficiency, turnover percentage, and 3-point shooting.

Both teams failed to reach the 65-point plateau in five of the last six meetings. Thus, when factoring in VCU’s elite defense and St. Bonaventure still being rusty off a long pause, the first to 65 points is likely to win on Friday.

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VCU-St. Bonaventure picks made on 1/14/2022 at 7:53 a.m. ET