By Paul Gotham
BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Eight teams looking to reach Sunday take the Barclays Center Court Friday. The Atlantic 10 quarter-finals tip at noon with two ranked teams and one formerly ranked team looking to advance.
Here’s the slate:
No. 1 St. Louis (26-5/13-3) vs. St. Bonaventure (17-14/6-10) Noon NBC Sports
St. Louis won the only meeting between these two 66-60 on January 15th. Losers of three of four, the Billikens have limped into the post-season. Nothing spells redemption like tournament time. Jordair Jett is the deserving conference Player of the Year. St. Bonaventure advanced with an 82-72 defeat of La Salle a game in which the Bonnies shot 53.6 percent (30-56). That figures to change against the league’s best defense. Big man Youssou Ndoye notched a double-double (19 points, 10 boards) for the Brown and White.
Hmmm…Ndoye and Marquise Simmons could present problems in the paint.
Bonnies by four.
No. 4 St. Joseph’s (21-9/11-5) vs. Dayton (23-9/10-6) 2:30 pm NBC Sports
A virtual NCAA Tournament play-in game. St. Joseph’s won both meetings this season including a 79-53 beatdown on Febrary 25th. SJU has lost two straight. The Flyers have won 10 of 11. Vee Sanford channeled his inner Christian Laettner (let’s hear some Duke hate from the gallery!) hitting all nine of his shots from the floor and 2 of 2 from the line as UD beat Fordham 87-74. SJU’s Langston Galloway is the best three-point shooter in the A-10.
Dayton gets revenge.
UD by six.
No. 2 VCU (24-7/12-4) vs. Richmond (19-13/8-8) 6:30 pm NBC Sports
Schools miles apart travel states away for their third head-to-head tilt of the season. VCU has taken both (81-70 and 56-50) meetings this season including the most recent on March sixth when the Spiders led at halftime and by as much as 11 in the second half before succumbing to VCU’s pressure. Kendall Anthony (16 ppg) will need plenty of help. Briante Weber might be out to show people he belonged on one of the all-conference teams.
VCU by five.
No. 3 George Washington (23-7/11-5) vs. Massachusetts 24-7/10-6) 9 pm NBC Sports
UMass won the only head-to-head between the Minutemen and Colonials (67-61) on February 15th. GW will have Kethan Savage back in the lineup for this one. How quickly can GW’s second-leading scorer (13.4 ppg) get his legs underneath him? He will need to help handle the UMass press. Maxie Esho scored a game-high 15 and pulled down seven rebounds in the UMass 65-61 win over Rhode Island in the opening round. The GW 1-3-1 presents problems for the Minutemen.
GW by three.