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Backer Bits: The Pressure Doesn’t End Now for Bonnies


Now comes the hard part for Head Coach Mark Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure Men’s Basketball team.  

What’s that you say?  Didn’t the Bonnies come off their toughest out of conference schedule in years and just win its eighth straight Atlantic 10 Conference game, longest in Bonaventure history?  And wasn’t that last opponent, the Rhode Island Rams, 16th in the nation at the time and owning the longest winning streak in the nation of its own when it lost to Bonaventure in a hotly contested match-up last Friday Night at the Reilly Center?  The answer to all of those questions is obviously, yes.  

However,  if the Bonnies are to make their first NCAA appearance since 2012 and get their first at large bid since 2000, they need to take care of business the last four regular season games.  

The reason is simple.  

You lose and you will be giving the NCAA Selection committee members yet another excuse to not invite a Non Power Five school to the NCAA Tourney.  Win those last regular season games, starting against Duquesne at home Wednesday, followed by VCU, Davidson and St. Louis and you are in….you’d think anyway. 

That would be a 24-6 record before playing in the A10 Tournament in DC  March 9th.  No Atlantic Ten team I know in the history of the league (Back to its origin in 1982) has been left out of the Big Dance with 24 wins.  


Yes, I know what happened two years ago, when the small Franciscan school located in the Allegheny Mountains got snubbed (A book was even written about it by Alum Brian Toolan).  That team accumulated a 22-9 record, but the committee deemed its out of conference schedule not worthy and instead had teams like Tulsa and Vanderbilt in the field.  

This, despite having the lowest RPI for any team not selected to the tournament (29) EVER.  And it’s not just the Bonnies who have suffered at the hands of the committee.  Other Non Power Five schools have as well.  You think Illinois State has forgotten their omission last year from the tournament?  And even when you make it, the committee does no favors for the Non Power Five Schools.  Take Wichita State, being given a number one seed a few years ago, having to play Kentucky in the second round? Or, Seton Hall being shipped out to Oregon two years ago to play a game at 10:30 PM or Villanova, despite getting a number one seed that same year, having the toughest draw out of all the number one seeds?  And last year, the committee had three games pitting six Non Power Five schools in the first round, thus having those Non Power Five schools reduced to three automatically after the first round.  (Rhode Island played Creighton, VCU played St. Mary’s and Dayton played Wichita State) More money for the big boys.  

It’s hard to believe, but the Atlantic Ten Conference, since forming in 1982, has been a multi bid league with the exception of only three years.  (1984-85 Temple, 2001-02 Xavier and 2004-05 George Washington).  The league has had as many as six teams in 2013-14 so it does have a history of good basketball.  And while the league might have been down compared to recent years, the level of play has picked up since league play began.  A lot of that can be attributed to new coaches and players getting better acclimated to one another, which they might not have been earlier in the year during the non conference portion of the schedule.  

Either way, a word to the wise: Don’t make it easy for the committee to omit you on Selection Sunday.  

With that said, the road to the finish for the Bonnies isn’t easy.  First up, Duquesne, a program that has ruffled the Bona faithful before on a big stage.  Anyone remember 23 years ago when the Bonnies hosted Duquesne and were honoring 75 years of Bona Basketball, only to lose to the Dukes?  Take care of business Wednesday and then head to Virginia to play a VCU team that the Bonnies have never beaten in Richmond.  Then finishing up with a 9 PM home game against a Davidson team that has already beaten you once this year and who has one of the best head coaches in the business in Bob McKillop.  Finally, you end the season at St. Louis on the home team’s Senior Night that you beat at home with Jay Adams scoring 44.  Can you expect that same performance out of Adams again?  

If the Bonnies can get through that stretch unscathed, even with a loss in the first round of the tourney, they’re in.  

A 3-1 record will mean one win in the tourney and your again at that magic number of 24-8.  With so much parity in college basketball this year and no clear cut favorite; this would seem to be the year that you give the benefit of the doubt to the non power five schools over those in the Power Five.  

Is it really fair to take an eighth place Big 12 team with an under 500 in the league over a Non Power Five that finishes near the top of their league?  I don’t think so.  

Hopefully, those on the committee, led by Chairman of the Committee Bruce Rasmussen, the AD of Creighton, will do the right thing.  

Until then Bonnies: play and win.  

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.


  1. Anonymous

    very well written and we will be on the edge of our seats on selection Sunday.

  2. Anonymous

    Very nice write-up…and agree 100%. Going to be a grind. Would like to think there is more margin for error, but I think that was used up in January.

  3. Bonajim

    While you are anguishing over these last four games, just make sure you enjoy them! It may be a long time before we see the kind of success we are enjoying at this very moment! Savor each moment and appreciate Jaylen, Matt, Courtney and Coach Schmidt, and everything will work it’s way out!!! Relax Stubbs!!!

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