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No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The LSU Tigers and St. Bonaventure Bonnies meet at Assembly Hall in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament - LSU v Mississippi Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

March 19 update: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 8 LSU vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure as of March 19th at 11 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

LSU: -1.5: 67% of action, 72% of bets
St. Bonaventure: +1.5: 33% of action, 28% of bets

Over 144.5: 72% of action, 65% of bets
Under 144.5: 28% of action, 35% of bets

Update March 17: Here are the updated bet splits for LSU vs. St. Bonaventure as of March 18th at 10:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

LSU -2: 71% of handle, 72% of bets
St. Bonaventure +2: 29% of handle, 28% of bets
Over 143: 75% of handle, 72% of bets
Under 143: 25% of handle, 28% of bets

The No. 8 seed LSU Tigers will take on the ninth-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 20th. LSU will check in as slight favorites to advance to the second round. This game will get things going at 1:45 p.m. ET from Assembly Hall and air on TNT.

No. 8 LSU: 18-9 (11-6 SEC): At-large

KenPom rating: 29 Overall, 5 Offense, 125 Defense
NET ranking: 28, (5-8 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Cameron Thomas
Key stat: Junior guard Javonte Smart ranks third in the SEC in assists with four per game.

LSU came up short in the SEC title game, but this offense is about as good as any in college basketball. They are led by freshman guard Cameron Thomas, who averages the fourth most points in the country with 22.6 per game. The Tigers have the second best field goal percentage in the SEC, but their defense will need to play much better for them to beat St. Bonaventure.

Watch for LSU to push the pace in this game and be aggressive at the rim because St. Bonaventure prefers a slow style and does not have a deep bench.

No. 9 St. Bonaventure: 16-4 (11-4 A-10): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: 25 Overall, 38 Offense, 17 Defense
NET ranking: 23 (4-2 VS Quad 1)
Leading scorer: Kyle Lofton
Key stat: St. Bonaventure allowed 60.4 points per game this season, the fifth fewest in the country.

St. Bonaventure is led by their defensive effort as they allowed the lowest field goal percentage in the Atlantic-10 this season. The Bonnies are not very deep as their top five players log a ton of minutes, each averaging more than 32 minutes per game. St. Bonaventure’s best asset on offense is their three-point shooting ability at 35.4%, third in the A-10.

Watch for junior guard Dominick Welch to find his shot at the three-point line. He went just 3-of-10 from beyond the arc in his last two, but he is shooting 40.8% from deep this year.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: LSU -1.5
Total: 144.5
Moneyline: St. Bonaventure +107, LSU -125

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: St. Bonaventure +2
Point total pick: Under 144.5
Pick to Win: St. Bonaventure

This will be a fascinating matchup between LSU’s fantastic offense and St. Bonaventure’s stingy defense. Additionally, they play opposite styles of offense where LSU wants to speed it up and St. Bonaventure wants a half-court game. We’re siding with the underdogs in this spot, and the Bonnies’ ability to limit possessions will put the final score under the 144.5.