Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s respected “bracketologist,” believes that St. Bonaventure University has put itself in good position for an at-large NCAA Tournament berth, without even reaching the final of the week’s Atlantic 10 tourney.
Lunardi was asked on a national conference call Tuesday if the Bonnies could afford a loss to No. 2 seed Virginia Commonwealth in the A-10 semifinals at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That assumes the seeds hold. Bona is the third seed. Dayton is seeded first.
“I believe they could afford that loss,” Lunardi said. “I think that the way they finished (Bona won 10 of its last 11 and finished 14-4 in the league) made quite a case for them.”
Lunardi had the Bonnies as an 11 seed in his latest bracket on Tuesday, playing a fellow 11 (in his projection, Connecticut) in one of the “First Four” games March 15-16 in Dayton that precede the Round of 64.
“To me, the VCU game would be an opportunity to end any discussion of being in the First Four,” Lunardi said.
A loss in the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet either No. 6 Davidson, No. 11 Duquesne or No. 14 La Salle at 9 p.m. on Friday, however, would be troublesome for the Bonnies.
St. Bonaventure was picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic 10 this men’s basketball season.
Instead, the Bonnies posted a 22-7 regular-season record and shared the conference title with a 14-4 mark. No surprise, then, that Mark Schmidt has been named the conference’s coach of the year. Schmidt is in his ninth season at the school.
The Bonnies picked up some other awards on Tuesday. Sophomore guard Jaylen Adams made first team All-Atlantic 10 and senior guard Marcus Posley was selected for the second team. Also, junior Denzel Gregg shared the sixth man of the year honor with UMass senior Jabarle Hinds. Gregg averaged 10.1 points and 5.2 rebounds.
It was the first time Schmidt was named A-10 Coach of the Year. Schmidt’s team ended the regular season with 10 wins in 11 games. He stands third on St. Bonaventure’s all-time coaching wins list with 146.
A sophomore, Adams is fifth in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (18.2), second in three-point field goal percentage (.448) and leads in free throw percentage (.878).
The Baltimore native scored a career high 31 points in a road win at St. Joseph’s, then matched that in a win at Dayton. Adams also hit a game-winning three-pointer against Saint Louis.
The second-leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 at 19.3 points per game, Posley had four 30-point games and a 47-point outburst in last Wednesday’s win over St. Joseph’s in Rochester.
Posley has scored 1,076 points in two seasons at Bona. He was third team All-Conference last year.