St. Bonaventure vs Florida Preview and Prediction
St. Bonaventure vs Florida Preview
Just like we predicted, the Bonnies beat the most decorated program in college basketball history Tuesday, and now St. Bonaventure advances in the East Region to face one of the most consistent NCAA Tournament teams of the past decade Thursday at American Airlines Center in Dallas.
The Bonnies (26-7) used a 12-0 second-half run Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio, to deny UCLA a rematch 11 years in the making with two-time Final Four opponent Florida.
Instead, St. Bonaventure continues its own March story almost a half-century in the making. The 65-58 win over UCLA in the First Four marked the Bonnies’ first NCAA Tournament win since 1970, when they played in the Final Four.
“In 1970, Bob Lanier got hurt, (and) he didn’t have a chance to play UCLA,” Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt said in his postgame interview on truTV. “This one is for him.”
The Gators have been one of the most consistent Tournament teams of the past two decades. Florida won a pair of national championships in 2006 and 2007, and last season came just a few minutes shy of advancing to their fourth Final Four in 11 years. Despite the loss to SEC counterpart South Carolina a season ago, Florida’s run in the 2017 Tournament marked the program’s fifth straight Elite Eight appearance, and first under coach Mike White.
Continuing that streak will require the Gators finding consistency that they have lacked in the latter half of the 2017-18 season. Florida lost 5 of 7 from Jan. 30 through Feb. 21, but rallied to win its final three of the regular season.
That streak ended in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament with an 80-72 loss to Arkansas on March 9. The Gators were coming off a six-day layoff at the conclusion of the regular season and received a double-bye.
“We thought it would be better for us to rest up and get a couple guys back healthy,” said Florida guard Chris Chiozza in the postgame press conference. “They had a couple games here, and … kind of had their mojo with them already.”
The Bonnies three-headed monster
If you followed the Bonnies at all this season, you know they are led by their senior backcourt Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, but there is a third guy who is the sole reason for St. Bonaventure continuing their season, Courtney Stockard.
Stockard scored 26 points and at times, completely took over the Bonaventure offense en route to the victory over UCLA.
It has been quite a career for Stockard who has dealt with injuries seemingly every year he’s been playing college ball. He missed the A-10 conference tournament due to an injury, but was healthy enough to play and dominate the First Four round.
“For two years he didn’t play one second of basketball,” Schmidt said of Stockard, who was sidelined for the previous two seasons by a foot injury. “For him to come back and have a day like today, it’s a credit to him, but he’s the reason why we won.”
Can Adams and Mobley bounce back?
One of the most dangerous backcourts in the nation struggled last night against UCLA. A-10 Co-Player of the Year Jaylen Adams shot a miserable 2-for-16 from the floor totaling 8 points–his teammate Matt Mobley did not fare much better shooting 4-for-12 from the field for 14 points.
If the Bonnies want to continue dancing they will need their stars to play like themselves.
Florida features four players who average double figures on the season.
Jalen Hudson: 15.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists per game
Egor Koulechov: 13.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game
KeVaughn Allen: 11.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game
Chris Chiozza: 11.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists per game
Florida forward Keith Stone is coming off one of his best offensive performances of the season. Stone is not one of the four Gators who averaged in double figures during the regular season, but his 22 points against Arkansas point to the balanced scoring punch this Florida team can pack.
“That’s a pretty good sign,” White said of Stone’s performance in the postgame press conference March 9. “We think he’s got a chance to be a very good player. For him, it’s about finding that consistency.”
LINE: -5.5 Florida
What St. Bonaventure was able to do with their two best players having their worst games of the season speaks to how talented this Atlantic-10 team is. If Adams and Mobley can hit their season averages in points, the Bonnies will be dancing into the second round.
St. Bonaventure 72 Florida 69