Typically, playing in Dayton in March means you are in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament, but for St. Bonaventure and VCU, an NCAA Tournament bid is on the line in their clash in Ohio on Sunday.
Both teams are strong defensively. Each ranks in the top 20 nationally in points allowed on a per-possession basis using different styles. VCU rates No. 2 in steals forced on a per-possession basis while St. Bonaventure doesn’t generate as many turnovers but is seventh in the country in opponents’ shooting percentage.
The Bonnies are going to look to get the game slowed down and under control as the team plays with the 15th-fewest possessions per game of any team in the country. VCU is a bit more content to run, ranking 116th out of the 347 Division I teams in the country in possessions per game.
Away from home, St. Bonaventure has not been the same offense, scoring 13.8 fewer points per 100 possessions in road and neutral-court games as opposed to at home. The Bonnies shoot 28.3 percent from 3-point range away from home compared to 42.1 percent at home, the second-largest discrepancy home to road in the country.
VCU blocks 9.7 percent of the shots it faces on defense, the third-highest percentage in the country. Combine that with each of its top four scorers shooting better than 74.5 percent at the free throw line, paced by guard Nah’Shon Hyland’s 85.6 percent, and the Rams have the strength and balance to come out of Dayton with a win and earn an NCAA Tournament bid.
The play: VCU, +2.5.