St. Bonaventure men's basketball is in the NCAA Tournament for the first since 2012, but the Bonnies will have to best one of the most historic programs in NCAA Division I basketball if they want to get out of the First Four in Dayton and into the first round.
The victor of the St. Bonaventure vs UCLA game will take on No 6 Florida at 9:55pm ET on Thursday, March 15.
The game's Over/Under (O/U) opened at 154.5 points with UCLA set as a 3.5-point favorite.
The Bruins had a chance, but a turnover by Holiday gave the Bonnies the ball with 27 seconds to play. He was one of the top scorers in the Atlantic Ten with almost 20 points per game.
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The Bruins rank 74th in assists per game (15.1) while the Bonnies rank 147th in assists allowed per game (13.5).
The Bruins beat USC in their final regular season game to complete a season sweep of their crosstown rival. He's played every minute of five of UCLA's last six games, including an overtime loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals.
Saint Bonaventure was upset that it had to begin its NCAA tournament in Dayton. The Bonnies have what it takes to keep UCLA in check coming into the First Four, but they'll have to contend with a Bruins team that has every intention of making it through to the First Round.
UCLA IN DAYTON?: Coach Steve Alford, who has led the Bruins to the tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, said he was surprised they were picked last and were sent to Dayton.
UCLA's junior guard Aaron Holiday averages a Pac 12-best 20.3 points, 5.8 assists and drains 43.3 percent from 3-point range, while the senior duo of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley for the Bonnies combined to score nearly 40 per contest and have connected on 177 tries behind the arc between them. Conversely, the Bruins force the sixth-fewest turnovers in the NCAA (opponents' turnover percentage of 14.9 percent). "I think one of the advantages, if we have an advantage, is that we played here a number of times".
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Tuesday's loss ensured that UCLA will go a full decade without playing in a regional final. The Wildcats' mark was below their season average of 0.293, while the Bruins' was below their season average of 0.267. The college basketball odds for the game have the Bruins favored to pick up the win. UCLA has a little more experience, and a little more talent.
"Would we like to be playing two games instead of three?"
UCLA's storied NCAA Tournament history includes 18 Final Four appearances.
A jumper by Holiday and a 3-pointer by redshirt sophomore guard Prince Ali brought UCLA back within 2 with two and a half minutes remaining.
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