St. Bonaventure drew a tough matchup with LSU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Can the 9th-seeded Bonnies pull off a mild upset?

Here are predictions from the News 4 Sports staff. The game is at 1:45 p.m. Saturday on TNT.

Josh Reed, Sports Director (@4JoshReed)

The NCAA Tournament selection committee didn’t do St. Bonaventure any favors with this matchup. The Bonnies are a 9-seed, LSU is an 8-seed and those game are always a toss up. Both teams had very good seasons but did it in entirely different ways.

St. Bonaventure’s defense is suffocating, allowing 60 points per game. On the other sideline, LSU’s high-powered offense averages 82 points per game. If the Bonnies are going to win they have to make it a low-scoring contest. In the end, I think the Tigers have too much fire power.

Prediction: LSU 72, St. Bonaventure 65

Heather Prusak, Sports Anchor/Reporter (@haprusak)

Two years ago, the Bonnies fell just short of making the NCAA Tournament after losing in the A-10 title game and that’s something they’ve had to think about ever since. Now with March Madness in full swing again, you can bet St. Bonaventure is still using that as fuel.

The Bonnies are riding high after getting back in the big dance coming off a season that saw their first outright regular season conference title, wrapped up with the A-10 tournament championship. I think that momentum along with dominant defensive play (they have the 5th best defense in the country only allowing 60.4 points per game) will be enough limit LSU and come up with the upset. I have the Bonnies losing to Michigan in the next round. 

Prediction: St. Bonaventure 74, LSU 69

Paul Stockman, Sports Anchor/Reporter (@Paul_Stockman)

I think the thing that may get St. Bonaventure is LSU’s depth. The Bonnies stick with mostly five guys and the occasional bench player, but LSU’s bench players are good enough that they could get minutes if they were playing for St. Bonaventure.

St. Bonaventure needs Osun Osunniyi to do what he does and play great defense, and they need to hit their shots like they did against VCU. That being said, this LSU team will be tough even if all goes right for Bonaventure.

Prediction: LSU 79, St. Bonaventure 74

Jerry Sullivan, Digital Reporter (@byJerrySullivan)

Smart, veteran squad, check. Solid point guard, check. One of the best coaches in the country, check. Great defense, check. Elite rim protector, check. Good perimeter shooting, check. St. Bonaventure has the qualities of a team that could make a tourney run.

What they don’t have is depth. But if they can avoid foul trouble — especially defensive anchor Osun Osunniyi — they can beat just about anybody. They should take out LSU in the 8-9 game, then stun a Michigan team that will likely be without senior co-captain Isaiah Livers due to a fractured foot.

Prediction: St. Bonaventure 70, LSU 67

Mary Margaret Johnson, Digital Sports Reporter (@mmj5838)

Even with a shortened 2020-21 schedule, St. Bonaventure played some of its best basketball this season. The Bonnies ran through the Atlantic 10 this year and won the A-10 championship outright for the first time in school history. Riding a three-game winning streak going into the Big Dance, Bona outscored its opponents by 14 points in the A-10 Tournament, but there’s no doubt the Bonnies have a tough test in LSU.

The Tigers lost to Alabama by one point in the SEC Championship, and have scored over 80 points per game in the month of March. St. Bonaventure’s defense is going to be tested throughout the entire game, but I think it will make to be one of the more entertaining first-round matchups in the Tournament. I have the Bonnies pulling off the upset.

Prediction: St. Bonaventure 73, LSU 70

According to ESPN, only 35.6% of brackets picked St. Bonaventure over LSU. That was the lowest percentage of any single-digit seed.