No. 11 UCLA (21-11 SU, 16-16-0 ATS, 18-14-0 O/U) vs. No. 11 St. Bonaventure (25-7 SU, 15-14-0 ATS, 16-13-0 O/U)
When and Where: Tuesday, March 13, Dayton Arena, Dayton, Ohio, 9:10 p.m. EDT.
St. Bonaventure looks to make sure its first NCAA Tournament appearance in six years is not a short-lived one as it faces UCLA in a clash of No. 11 seeds in the First Four on Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
UCLA narrowly makes return to NCAA Tournament
The Bruins (21-11) are in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and fifth time in the last six years, but one of the most storied teams in college basketball is making its first appearance in the First Four since the field expanded to 68 teams.
UCLA finished tied for third in the Pac-12 and reached the conference tournament semifinals before losing 78-67 to then-No. 15 Arizona in overtime Friday night.
That was part of a 2-5 overall mark against the NCAA Tournament field, which included a neutral-site win over then-No. 7 Kentucky in December and a win at Arizona last month to go with losses to Creighton, Michigan, Cincinnati and Arizona State before Friday night’s defeat to the Wildcats.
Aaron Holiday edged out Arizona’s Deandre Ayton for the Pac-12 scoring lead at 20.3 points per game and ranked third in 3-pointers made (84) while finishing fourth in 3-point shooting at 43.3 percent. The younger brother of former UCLA standout and current New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday was also second in assists at 5.8 per contest and averaged 1.3 steals.
Freshman guard Kris Wilkes contributed 13.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while senior 7-foot center Thomas Welsh averaged 13.0 points and 10.7 rebounds, the latter good for 10th in the country. He also showed the ability to hit from the perimeter as he made 40.9 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
Freshman guard Jaylen Hands rounds out the double-digit scorers at 10.1 points per game, while Prince Ali chipped in 9.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest. UCLA had five players make at least 34 3-pointers and led the Pac-12 in 3-point shooting at 38.3 percent while making 300 shots from beyond the arc.
The Bruins finished second in the Pac-12 in scoring at 81.9 points per game but were also third-worst in scoring defense, yielding 76.3 per contest while allowing a conference-worst 283 3-pointers.
UCLA has reached the regional semifinals in all three of its previous NCAA Tournament appearances under coach Steve Alford.
Bonnies seeking first NCAA Tournament win since 1970
St. Bonaventure (25-7) sweated out selection Sunday after losing 82-70 in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament to eventual winner Davidson the day before. But the Bonnies heard their name called for the first time since a 66-63 loss to Florida State in the 3-14 game in the first round in 2012.
The Bonnies, an at-large selection for the first time since 2000, boast one of the best backcourts in the country with Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley, who average 19.8 and 18.5 points, respectively. Both seniors are stellar 3-point shooters, with Mobley tied for 17th in the country with 102 trifectas and Adams connecting on 45.7 percent of his long-range attempts.
Adams is sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,893 points after starting his senior season in 21st place.
Swingman Courtney Stockard is the other St. Bonaventure player in double figures at 12.9 points per game and is second in rebounding with 6.4 per contest. He suffered a hamstring injury in the A-10 quarterfinal win over Richmond and sat out Saturday’s loss, which ended a 13-game winning streak.
Center Amadi Ikpeze (4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg) joins Stockard in the frontcourt, while the Bonnues utilize a three-guard alignment that also includes Idriss Taqqee (5.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg). LaDarien Griffin, who started in Stockard’s place Saturday, is the top scoring reserve with 8.7 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game.
The Bonnies led the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 77.9 points per game and were second in 3-point shooting at 39.8 percent. St. Bonaventure posted a 3-4 record against NCAA Tournament teams, beating Syracuse and losing to TCU in non-conference play before splitting with Rhode Island and losing two of three to Davidson in A-10 play.
St. Bonaventure has not won an NCAA Tournament game since reaching the 1970 Final Four, losing in the first round in its last three appearances (1978, 2000, 2012).
- 5-13 ATS in its last 18 games following a straight up loss.
- 2-5 ATS in its last seven neutral site games as a favorite.
- 4-9 ATS in its last 13 non-conference games.
St. Bonaventure is:
- 5-2 ATS in its last seven games vs. opponents with a straight up winning record.
- 4-1 ATS in its last five games following an ATS loss.
UCLA has won both meetings between the schools, with the most recent one in 1975, and the teams played no common opponents this season.
St. Bonaventure had a plus-2.8 turnover margin per game, forcing 14.3 turnovers, while UCLA had a minus-1.0 turnover margin as it committed 11.8 per contest. The Bonnies also ranked third in the A-10 in free throw shooting at 75.4 percent, which was also good for 49th nationally, while UCLA was seventh in the Pac-12 at 72.2 percent.
The winner of this game will face sixth-seeded Florida in the first round in Dallas on Thursday afternoon.