Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Bonaventure Basketball: Keys for the Bonnies against UCLA

Bonaventure Basketball: Keys for the Bonnies against UCLA

UCLA makes its fifth trip to NCAA Tournament in six years and looks to win at least two games for the fourth straight time when it begins play against unsafe St. Bonaventure on Tuesday in the First Four at Dayton, Ohio - in a battle of 11th seeds to open the East Region. 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. Freshmen Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were suspended for the season for shoplifting during a trip to China in November.

The doubleheader tips off with two 16 seeds squaring off for the right to play top-seed Villanova in the East Region Thursday. "Yeah, but we don't control that, so we know we're in Dayton and we're playing St. Bonaventure, so we've just got to get to work on them", Alford said about having to play an extra game.

BOTTOM LINE: UCLA makes its 49th tournament appearance but its debut in the First Four.

"We really weren't expecting that as we're watching the show", coach Steve Alford said.

The last two years, SportsLine's computer simulation correctly predicted nine out of 12 double-digit NCAA Tournament upsets in the first round with their computer algorithm. "And now we're in the NCAA Tournament, and that's a very good accomplishment". The Bruins overcame some early-season adversity to finish the regular season with a 21-11 straight up and 15-16-1 against the spread record, earning them this spot in the NCAA tournament.

It will be UCLA's first appearance in a play-in game.

The Bruins have won eight of their past 12 games. In order for a deep post-season run to be possible, the Bruins are best off with Holiday taking total control.

FAMILIAR ARENA PART 2: LIU Brooklyn coach Derek Kellogg was sacked by MA last season after losing to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 tournament.

"I've had some, I'd say, OK memories here", Kellogg said. The matchup could come down to guard play as both teams boast talented backcourts that can put up plenty of points, dish the ball and drain long-range shots. Bucknell plays Michigan State in Detroit on Friday.

Adams' backcourt mate Matt Mobley averages 18.5 points per game.

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