Well, the overall conference tournament performance was like that of most teams, and not worth writing home — or in a national publication — about, but a great NCAA Tournament run can make everything that happened in prior weeks meaningless.[Joker voice] “And here we … go.”
Saint Bonaventure (+3½) over UCLA: First off, the St. needs to be spelled out now, following the cruel scare thrown into the good people of Olean, N.Y. — so Mike Vaccaro says — because of TBS’ infuriating decision to mess with one of the few universally beloved American traditions, and reveal the teams in alphabetical order, only to screw up and list Seton Hall before Saint Bonaventure.
Anyway, don’t be blinded by the sky-blue brand name. The Bonnies are one of the hottest teams in the country — they’ve won 13 of their past 14 games, and have a slew of impressive wins this season, including over Rhode Island, Davidson, Maryland, Vermont and at Syracuse — and even have familiarity playing at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, in conference play.
Led by Aaron Holiday, the Bruins have one of the best offenses in the country, but they struggle with consistency, and have another uninterested defense, which Atlantic 10 co-player of the year Jaylen Adams should tear apart.
Note to Editor: If the Bonnies lose, don’t assign me to cover an event with Vac for the next few years.
LIU Brooklyn (+4¹/₂) over Radford: The Blackbirds just pulled off an even tougher win than this, knocking off NEC regular-season champion Wagner — a defense-first team like Radford — in Staten Island, where the crowd was against them, and the Seahawks were undefeated all season.
Radford’s slow pace will keep the score lower than LIU likes, but the Blackbirds will have an easier time taking advantage of the limited possessions, with fifth-year senior Joel Hernandez, and steadily improving wingman Raiquan Clark keeping the late-season surge going.
This season: 13-12-1
2011-17 record: 199-155-8
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