The basketball season continues tonight at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons look to improve to 9-2 with a win over the St. Bonaventure Bonnies. St. Bonaventure, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, is 7-3 on the season and are led by Mark Schmidt who is in his 6th season.
The Bonnies are coming off a huge 102-89 win against the Iona Gaels, and are averaging 76.6 points per game. The Bonnies have an offensive efficiency rating of 108.4, due in large part to their ability to generate offensive rebounds, doing so on 43.1% of possessions (4th). Senior forward Marquise Simmons stands out in this regards, as he collects offensive rebounds on 15.9% of possessions and has an offensive efficiency rating of 119.7. The Bonnies are one of the worst teams in the country at shooting the rock from deep (29.5%), but are able to make up for this deficiency by shooting 51.5% inside the arc and getting to free throw line on 50% of their field goal attempts. The Deacs will want to keep on eye on senior guard Matthew Wright, who is responsible for 28.4% of shot attempts and is averaging 15.6 points per game.
Defensively, the Bonnies play a man defense that holds opponents to 1.02 points per possession. Coach Schmidt's squad is one of the best in the country at forcing turnovers (22.8%), and steal more than 96' Bonnie and Clyde with 9.3% of possessions. Wake follows up on a win in which they turned the ball over a season high 21 times and if they don't take better care of the ball they could be handed their first home loss of the season. 7'0 center Youssou Ndoye anchors the front court by averaging 1.6 blocks and 6.4 rebounds. St. Bonaventure doesn't have many weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball, but opponents have been able to get to the line on 51.1% of their field goal attempts. Look for Codi Miller-McIntyre and Tyler Cavanaugh to continue to find ways to get to the charity stripe.
St. Bonaventure provides an interesting match up for the Deacs, and on paper they look similar to a Tennessee Volunteer team that was able to out muscle Wake earlier in the season.
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Wake Forest has certainly improved since playing the Vols, most notably against Richmond where they collected 53 of the 77 rebounds. The Deacs will look to continue their success on the boards but it won't come easy, as St. Bonaventure uses their effective height and are built to protect the paint and clean up the glass. The Bonnies limit opponents offensive rebounds to merely 30.4% of possessions while Wake Forest has been able to collect rebounds on 36.5% of possessions. Wake is a top 10 team at keeping opponents from collecting offensive rebounds (24.2%) but expect Devin Thomas, Travis McKie, and Tyler Cavanaugh to have their hands full with a very physical St. Bonaventure front court. The Bonnies play at the below average tempo of 67.8 so look for them to try to take the air out of the basketball to slow down the game and extend possessions. I think this game will be closer than a lot of people expect, and the team that wins the battle in the paint will leave the Joel with a win.
Wake Forest 75
St. Bonaventure 72