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3 reasons to be optimistic about SBU’s NCAA aspirations

Here we go again. Did we not learn anything from that awful Niagara loss to start the season?

St. Bonaventure’s NCAA tournament hopes haven’t been dashed. Don’t buy into the fake news just yet.

Though it feels like the sky is falling, the reality is the Bonnies have lost two games to conference opponents that are tough to beat on their home court – regardless of record. That’s all.

Last we checked, Mark Schmidt’s team still has 15 games remaining. This is only the halfway point of the season.

Besides, if the season ended today, the Bonnies would be squarely on the bubble. They’re 11-4. They have a 40 RPI.

CBS and Bracketville has SBU in the first four out. College Sports Madness, and SBNation’s Blogging the Bracket has the Bonnies in a play-in game. Real Time RPI has them as a 9-seed.

Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology hasn’t been updated since a day after the Dayton loss. The Bonnies were a 10-seed then.

With 15 games left, the Bonnies control their destiny. Just like when they tipped it off November 10 against the Purple Eagles.

Take a breath. Try to relax. Don’t be so pessimistic.

Here are three reasons to be optimistic about SBU’s NCAA chances:

1. Record vs top teams

The Bonnies are 3-1 against top 50 opponents. It’s possible they might be fighting for a final spot in the tourney with one of more of those three teams they beat.

Syracuse is 29 in the RPI, Buffalo 30, and Maryland 48. Those are three solid non-conference victories – something the Bonnies were missing according to the selection committee when they were snubbed in 2016.

SBU is 4-2 against the top 100. Opportunities to pick up more victories against that group exist, though aren’t plentiful.

2. Two cracks at URI

In a down year for the Atlantic 10, the Bonnies are fortunate to be playing the conference’s front-runner twice this season. A win – or wins – over Rhode Island would bolster SBU’s NCAA resume significantly.

The Rams are 11-3 and 20 in the RPI. The Bonnies play at URI Saturday and host the defending A-10 tourney champs on February 16 in nationally televised games.

If the SBU wants in the NCAA tourney, it must at least split with the Rams. Two wins would be great.

3. Soft bubble

The weakness of the A-10 this season might be enough to keep the Bonnies out of the Big Dance. It also might not matter.

It should be easier to get in this year than it was in 2016. Throughout the country there is parity at the top, middle and bottom.

Teams are beating up on each other in almost every conference and middling resumes will exist 25-50 in the RPI come March. Such circumstances may well help the Bonnies to grab a tourney bid – even if their resume isn’t as good as it was two seasons ago

Of course, Bona must finish the regular season strong, and win one – possibly two games – in the A-10 tournament to maintain its position on the edge of the NCAA tourney.

Best case is likely a 12-3 mark to close the season for a 23-7 overall record. A bounce-back week against Fordham and URI would be a good start.

Remember what happened after Niagara? Don’t give up just yet.

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