Welp, UMass didn’t do me any favors at home against Saint Louis on Saturday. I should’ve known better when 86% of the money was on the Minutemen. Giving up a 20-2 run in the second half isn’t optimal for covering at home in most cases. Saint Louis has had back to back monster offensive games now and UMass has lost 5 straight games. After a day of snowballs and stiff drinks, I’m ready for some more A10 hoops. Here we go!
Saint Bonaventure at VCU (Line: VCU -9.5)
The VCU Rams enter Sunday’s game alone in first place in the A10 at 6-0 in conference play. Bona is 4-2, coming off a home loss to Dayton where it trailed by 25 in the second half but scored 61 points in the final 20 minutes and wound up losing by only six points.
This game could be a good one based on the match-ups. Bona has a point guard in Jaylen Adams who has continued to improve after a solid freshman season was cut short due to injury. Adams is shooting 46% from 3-point range. He is a great passer and is cutting down on his unforced turnovers. VCU will send JeQuan Lewis after Adams and the lightning quick point guard has really come on strong for the Rams as of late. Lewis looked completely lost earlier in the year but since January 1st he has 33 assists and 18 turnovers. That might not seem great but you have to remember he had 9 assists and 16 turnovers vs. Wisconsin, FL State, and Georgia Tech. As he goes, the Rams go.
Vegas likes VCU by 9.5 and that number has to be based on the Rams interior game and Bona’s lack of size in the post. Dion Wright, one of the most underrated players in the A10, has been forced to play out of position this season and has done an admirable job but he really is a wing player. Posley, Adams, and Wright will get theirs but how well Gregg, Woods, and Tyson fare down low could very well determine the outcome of this game. Mo Alie-Cox and Justin Tillman are playing at a very high level right now and Tillman’s energy and improvement at finishing in the paint has added another dimension to VCU’s offense.
VCU was sloppy at home against Duquesne this week and even though it won by 22 points, Will Wade was not pleased with his team’s performance after the game. No Bueno Bona can get points in a hurry and 9.5 seems like a dangerous number against a team like that. VCU has thrived off of turning teams over this year, 24.8 turnover % and 14.2 steal % are good for 4th and second nationally. Bona is 73rd in the country on offense when it comes to turnover %, coming into Sunday’s game at 16.9. Even if VCU gets a lead in this one, Bona can come back quickly. The Rams have covered the spread in 7 consecutive games but I don’t know if they can get this one. I’m going to take Bona to cover the 9.5
Dayton at Fordham (Line: Dayton -7.5)
The Flyers head into NYC off of a solid road win at Bona, a very difficult place to play, and are 5-1 in the A10. Fordham defeated George Mason on Wednesday and is now 2-4 in the A10.
Dayton is a really freaking good team. The Flyers can beat you in a variety of ways which is rare in the A10. Dayton has won games where it couldn’t hit water if it fell out of a boat, see at Duquesne, and games where it won because its offense looked like the 1990 UNLV Running Rebels. The return of Dyshawn Pierre has been nothing short of spectacular and the sensational forward has stepped right in and hasn’t missed a beat after having to sit out for the 1st semester. His performance against GW two weeks ago was one of the most complete single game performances of any player in the conference this season. Pierre makes Dayton so much better because the Flyers can run their offense through him if they need to. His passing ability and court vision make Smith and Pollard more effective players because they get the ball in better situations. Teams can’t cheat on defense and play off guys on the perimeter because they know Pierre will find them, even if he is down in the post.
The emergence of Steve McElvene, detailed here by Jeff Horne Big Steve, can’t be understated either. Steve is a big man and the 47 year-old redshirt freshman is shutting down the paint for Dayton’s opponents in a way the Flyers haven’t had in a long time.
Fordham got off to a hot start by beating a lot of bad teams but the fact that it was beating anyone was notable considering the enormous pile of elephant dung that program has been stuck in for the last decade. Mandel Thomas, Antwoine Anderson, Ryan Rhoomes, Christian Sengfelder, Jon Severe, and Joseph Chartouny don’t suck. They play really hard for new coach Jeff Neubauer and force turnovers on almost 24% of opponents possessions; good for 8th in the country. Last year, Fordham’s defense resembled this:
I like Fordham’s team and am glad to see the Rams making progress. It says a lot that they came back and got a win vs. George Mason after having been outscored by almost 60 points in the two games prior to Wednesday night’s victory.
Normally I wouldn’t even hesitate to take the Flyers in this game but they have been inconsistent on the road and the enormous dump they took in Philly a couple of weeks ago still has a few lingering dingleberries of concern hanging around in my mind. But whatever, I have turned making bad decisions into an art form and today I will continue to work on my masterpiece. I’m taking Dayton to cover.
Saint Joseph’s at La Salle (Line: Saint Joseph’s -10)
The final game of the day has Saint Joe’s going to La Salle in an intracity rivalry. The Hawks are 15-3 this season and beat Penn at the Palestra on Wednesday night. La Salle is this in the form of a college basketball team:
La Salle is 1-10 in its last 11 games but that singular victory was against a damn good Dayton team. The Explorers shortened the game by holding the ball and came away with a stunning upset. You’d have to think that Dr. John will try to implement a similar game plan today, knowing he is outmanned against a much more complete Joe’s team.
The is at 10 and the money is basically split on this one which is a huge red flag for me. I got burned big time yesterday taking UMass when I knew I should have gone the other way and taken Saint Louis to cover. This game feels a lot like yesterday’s in that regard. I don’t think La Salle will beat Joe’s today but covering 10 is well within the Explorers capabilities.
Jordan Price takes 1 out of every 3 shots for La Salle. Against Temple the other night, Price was 4-21 from the floor. Against Rhode Island last week, Price was 8-13 from the floor. Needless to say, as he goes go the Explorers. The question will be if he can bounce back from Wednesday’s shitburger or not. I don’t like La Salle in this game but I’m going to take the Explorers to cover.
Yesterday I watched 10 hours of basketball, polished off a bottle of Old Crow with some help from a neighbor, and decided to try and dig my car out of almost 2 feet of snow at 2:00 in the morning. I’m not very bright. You’ve been warned again. Now let’s go get that money!!!!