The Massachusetts Minutemen and the St. Bonaventure Bonnies last met on Janurary 3rd which ended in a shocking 69-55 loss for the Minutemen at home. Youssou Ndoye got the better of Cady Lalanne that day with 14 points and 13 rebounds in a dominating performance. This game has big implications for both squads with UMass being just one game out of first place and the Bonnies two games back. You can watch the game on TV if you have the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
St. Bonaventure 13-8 (6-4)
After the Bonnies big win in Amherst they have managed a 5-4 record that include two very impressive wins over Davidson on the road and VCU at home. Both those wins were in the last week and by a combined three points. Prior to the two game win streak, the St. Bonaventure had suffered back to back losses to Rhode Island and La Salle. Both teams UMass has proven it can beat. St. Bona could really use a win here as it is in a two way tie for second place and just one game back from UMass.
UMass 14-9 (7-3)
Donte Clark's first half outburst from three pushed UMass passed La Salle on Sunday to push the Minutemen into a three way tie for second place. That win also gave UMass its fourth win a row which is an impressive feat considering where this team was after the disappointing showing at St. Joe's. Albeit other than the Dayton win it hasn't been a very impressive streak but a 7-3 conference record is all that matters.
Players to watch:
Posley has gotten numerous honors recently as CBSSports named him their player of the week and ESPN's Andy Katz named him his national POTW. He averaged 17 points, 6.5 rebounds, and two assists over that stretch and hit TWO buzzer beaters for the win. The one against VCU was truly remarkable as Posley showed his athletic ability and did it for the Vine:
For the season Posley is leading the Bonnies in scoring with 17.1 points per game. The 6-1 guard is the heart of the offense and has taken 70 more shots than anyone else on the Bonnies roster.
The big fella outplayed Cady Lalanne last time around and will look to do just that on Wednesday. At 7-0 he is one of the few players that Lalanne cannot bully his way around in the low post. UMass will be weary of driving to the hoop against him as he swats 2.8 shots a game and alters countless more. On top of that he also averages a double-double with 12.4 points and 10.7 rebounds. He's the kind of player who could go for a 20 and 20 game.
You have to believe that Lalanne has that January 3rd meeting in the back of his mind. While Cady didn't play bad that day (12 points and 8 boards) he certainly can't be fine with being outshined by Ndoye. After an 11 and 11 performance against against La Salle's 7 footer, Steve Zack, Lalanne looks ready to take on the challenge of one-upping Ndoye.
Over the Minutemen's four game win streak, Esho has averaged just eight points and 5.75 rebounds per game. Those numbers are below his season averages of 12 and 6.4 respectively. The highlight plays have still been there though, including this slam against La Salle:
UMass needs Esho to get back to form if they want to continue their push for the A-10 Championship. Look for Trey Davis and company to get Esho involved on the offensive end and hopefully that'll result in a few more dunks like that one.
Both teams come into this matchup riding their own wave of momentum. UMass hasn't needed the last minute heroics but the Bonnies have certainly beaten the better competition. Even though this game is home for St. Bona the Minutemen have shown they can travel around the A-10 and get a W as they have just one conference road loss.
This game will come down to the matchup between Lalanne and Ndoye. If one of them can force the other into foul trouble like Ndoye was able to do with Lalanne last time then that could decide the game. My money is on Cady Lalanne for the sole reason of revenge. UMass got punched in the mouth by the Bonnies to open A-10 play and I don't think they will let that happen again. Final score: UMass 74, St. Bonaventure 71.