For the first time in school history, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies are headed to the NCAA Tournament as a single-digit seed. The ninth-seeded Bonnies will square off against the eighth-seeded Louisiana State (LSU) Tigers on Saturday at 1:45 pm on TNT.
“[Everyone] cannot be more excited at the opportunity to play LSU,” St. Bonaventure Head Coach Mark Schmidt said on The Paul Finebaum Show on Wednesday.
Since 1985, when the modern NCAA Tournament bracket with 64 teams first appeared, the Bonnies have made the tournament just three times.
In 2000, St. Bonaventure, a 12-seed, fell to the fifth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in Double Overtime. Future NBA Star Tayshaun Prince led the scoring with 28 for Kentucky while St. Bonaventure’s Tim Winn recorded a double-double in that first-round thriller.
12 years later, Andrew Nicholson helped lead the Bonnies back to the Big Dance as a 14-seed. The Bonnies fell just short once again, losing to the Florida State Seminoles 66-63.
In 2018, the Bonnies picked up their first NCAA Tournament win since 1970, as Jaylen Adams, Matt Mobley, and Courtney Stockard led the Bonnies to victory over the UCLA Bruins in the First Four. The 11-seeded Bonnies then fell to the Florida Gators in the first round.
Now a nine-seed in 2021, everyone, from the players to the coaches to the fans, cannot be more excited.
Coach Schmidt knows how thrilled St. Bonaventure fans are:
“When I got the job 14 years ago, I knew basketball was important to the university, [but] I just had no idea that it was this important. I think we have 35,000 alums, and there is not an alumni base [that is] more excited, more enthused, and more excited than Bonaventure’s. I call it a cult in a positive sense. It’s hard to put into words [how special of a place it is until] you see the place and come to a game. And then you sit in a bar with alums and you realize how fanatical they are. I am excited and honored to be the coach at Bonaventure. It’s a special place. They are crazy about Bonaventure, crazy about the school, and crazy about basketball.”
Unfortunately for Bonnies fans, the 2021 NCAA Tournament will take place at a limited capacity. The “Brown and White Cult” will not be able to show up for this “spotlight” game in full force.
Instead, Bonnies fans will have to tune in to TNT to watch them play LSU on Saturday afternoon.
Of course, not having the opportunity to attend an NCAA tournament game is a minor inconvenience when compared to other challenges we have faced over the last year.
Earlier this month, the pandemic hit close to home as Dr. Dennis DePerro, the University’s President, lost his battle with Covid-19 back on March 1. “It’s a big loss. Not just to me personally, but to our program and university. He’s in our prayers. That net [from the Atlantic 10 Championship victory in Dayton] is for his family because he has been a big part of it. I know Dennis is looking over us. And hopefully, he can help us on Saturday at 1:45,” said Coach Schmidt.
Since the Dayton game on March 1, the Bonnies have worn a patch on their uniforms with Dr. DePerro’s initials to honor the late President.
Rest assured that Dr. DePerro is watching over his beloved Bonnies from above. The Bonnies already won the Atlantic 10 Tournament in his honor. Can they continue to honor his legacy and further excite Bonnies fans with a deep run in the 2021 NCAA Tournament?