Atlantic 10 Championship Preview: St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs Xavier Musketeers

2012 Atlantic 10 Conference Championship Game
#4 St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs #3 Xavier Musketeers
Boardwalk Hall – Atlantic City, New Jersey
Sunday, March 11, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Xavier -3
Current Line: Xavier -3 1/2
Opening Total: 136 1/2
Current Total: 136 1/2
Opening Money Line: Xavier -150 / St. Bonaventure +130
Current Money Line: Xavier -170 / St. Bonaventure +150

Xavier will take on St. Bonaventure for the Atlantic 10 Championship Sunday in Atlantic City. The Musketeers are 3.5 point favorites.

The 21-11 Xavier Musketeers will take on the 19-11 St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the Championship game of the Atlantic 10 Sunday afternoon. Xavier was on the bubble before the A-10 tournament, but the Bonnies have to win to get into the NCAA tournament.  Both Temple and Saint Louis are projected to make the field from the A-10.

Both Xavier and St. Bonaventure finished 10-6 in the conference standings, three games behind first place Temple. St. Bonaventure has won 5 of the last 6 games they have played. The Bonnie’s beat St Joseph’s 71-68 in the quarterfinals, and UMass 84-80 in the semifinals. Xavier has won 4 of the last 5, including 70-69 over Dayton in the quarterfinals and 71-64 over Saint Louis in the semifinals.

Xavier leads the series 24-15 against St. Bonaventure, and has won 11 straight against the Bonnies. The Musketeers won the only meeting of the regular season between the schools 77-64 January 14 in Cincinnati.

St. Bonaventure is coached by Mark Schmidt. The Bonnies have wins over Cornell, Siena, Buffalo, Loyola-MD, Niagara, George Washington, Fordham twice, Rhode Island twice, Richmond, Duquesne, Charlotte, and St. Joseph’s twice. St. Bonaventure has losses to Cleveland St, Virginia Tech, Arkansas St, Illinois, NC State, Duquesne, Saint Louis, UMass, Temple, and LaSalle.

Xavier is coached by Chris Mack. The Musketeers have wins over Miami-OH, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Purdue, Butler, Cincinnati, Southern Illinois, Fordham, Duquesne, St. Joseph’s, Charlotte twice, George Washington, Rhode Island, Dayton twice, and Richmond. Xavier has losses to Oral Roberts, Long Beach St, Hawaii, Gonzaga, LaSalle, Dayton, Saint Louis twice, Memphis, Temple, and UMass. In the Cincinnati win, there was an ugly brawl at the end of the game. Several players on both schools were suspended for multiple games. Xavier was undefeated at the time and ranked in the top ten. The Musketeers lost 5 of their next 6 games after the brawl.

St. Bonaventure is outscoring opponents 71-65 this season. The Bonnies are shooting 46% from the field and and 34.2% from 3 point range. SBU makes 75.6% of their free throws. The Bonnies average 35.5 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +5.3. SBU averages 13.8 assists, 14.2 turnovers, 5.8 steals, and 4.1 blocks a game. SBU opponents are shooting 41.9% from the field and 32.8% from 3 point range. The Bonnies force 12.8 turnovers a game.

SBU forward Andrew Nicholson averages 18.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1,8 blocks a game to lead the team in all three categories. He doesn’t shoot a lot of threes but he is shooting 38.6% from beyond the arc. Demetrius Conger averages 12.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game. He makes 36.6% of his three pointers. Da’Quan Cook averages 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds a game. Matthew Wright averages 7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the Bonnies in steals and assists. Eric Mosley, Chris Johnson, and Charlon Kloof also play significant minutes in the rotation.

Xavier is outscoring opponents 71-68 this season. The Musketeers are shooting 45.6% from the field, including 35.5% on three pointers. Xavier makes 69.1% of their free throws. The Musketeers average 36.7 rebounds a game and have a rebounding margin of +2.5. Xavier averages 13.6 assists, 12.9 turnovers, 6.1 steals, and 3.8 blocks a game. Musketeer opponents are shooting 39.8% from the field, including 30.6% from 3 point range. The Musketeers are in the top 30 nationally in both categories. Xavier forces 12.7 turnovers a game.

Xavier guard Tu Holloway averages 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.6 steals a game. He leads the Musketeers in scoring, assists, and steals. He makes 34.3% of his 3 pointers. Mark Lyons averages 15.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.3 steals a game. He makes 39.2% of his 3 point shots. Dezmine Wells averages 10 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. He doesn’t attempt a lot of threes but he shooting 40.4% on 3 pointers.¬†Kenny Frease averages 9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds to lead the team, 1.1 assists, and 1.1 blocks a game to lead the team. Andre Walker, Travis Taylor, Dee Davis, Jeff Robinson and Brad Redford also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Xavier is 11-17-2 ATS and the total is 17-13 this season. SBU is 18-10-1 ATS and the total is 16-13 this season. The Musketeers are 3-0 ATS in the last 3 games against the Bonnies, and all three games went over the total.

St. Bonaventure was given a gift when #9 seed Massachusetts upset #1 seed Temple in the quarterfinals. The Bonnies haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2000. I don’t think it will happen this year either. Xavier wins but it will be close.

Our college basketball handicappers are crushing the sports books during Championship week. Don’t miss out on any more winners for the rest of the season.






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