The eight versus nine seed matchup always makes for some of the more exciting and competitive games. This is one of the more interesting matchups of the entire first round. The high-flying 8 seed Louisiana State Tigers will be taking on the stout defensive 9 seed St Bonaventure Bonnies (1:45pm ET Saturday; TV: Live on TNT).
This is quite the clash of drastically opposing styles. The Bonnies have one of the better defenses in the tournament while the Tigers have one of the worst. St. Bonaventure is ranked 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions: adjusted for opponents) and LSU is ranked 125th. This will be one of the toughest defenses that the Tigers have seen all year. Only two SEC teams rank higher than the Bonnies in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Tigers’ defense also ranked 280th in the NCAA and allowed opponents to score 75.3 points per game on average.
The Bonnies defense is anchored inside by center Osun Osunniyi. The 6-10 junior is ranked 9th in the NCAA in blocks per game (2.85). Osunniyi also leads the team in rebounds per game with 9.5 boards on average. I think he will be able to limit the Tigers’ forwards in the paint and he can also dominate on the offensive end. He should own the glass and limit the Tigers’ second chance rebounds. The Bonnies will look to slow this game to a crawl and win a lower scoring defensive battle. They will need to play a stout game on the defensive end to slowdown the Tigers’ explosive offensive attacks, which is one of the best in the entire country.
These two offenses couldn’t be more different. According to Ken Pom LSU ranks 5th in adjusted offensive efficiency while the Bonnies rank 38th. This isn’t quite as much of a discrepancy as the defensive efficiency, but it is certainly worth noting. The Tigers will look to push the pace, which they have done for much of the season. LSU averages 74.4 possessions per game while the Bonnies average 66.8 possessions per game. These extra possessions could be the difference in the game.
I expect the Bonnies to slow down LSU and make them play their style in a more defensive battle. The Tigers were 16-10-1 to the over and the Bonnies were 14-6 to the under. Something has to give in this clash of style. I tend to lean towards the more defensive team in the tournament, which has me looking at St Bonaventure.
The Bonnies were an impressive 14-5-1 against the spread on the season while LSU was 13-13-1 ATS. St. Bonaventure’s style lends well to the tournament where teams’ shooting may struggle a bit due to the new setting, travel, fatigue, or a multitude of reasons. I like the strong defensive team as underdogs to win this game outright.
Our Betting Preview’s St Bonaventure Bonnies vs LSU Tigers Predictions & Picks Verdict
We are going to be taking the St Bonaventure Bonnies on the moneyline, which is currently sitting at +105 with most good USA bookmakers. I really like the Bonnies defense to frustrate the LSU Tigers. They haven’t faced too many teams with such stifling defensive units. I also think Osunniyi will dominate inside the paint with his shot blocking prowess. This will force the Tigers to take way more jump shots and the Bonnies have several guards that are tough on the perimeter. I like the Bonnies’ defensive unit to win this game and move on to the round of 32. So the one pick to conclude this preview and our Bonnies vs LSU predictions is: