By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio
The Atlantic 10 released its conference schedule for the 2016-17 season today, and St. Bonaventure will face many tests as it vies for another league championship.
Now that we know the schedule in its entirety, what are the biggest games (conference or non-conference) for the Bonnies this year? Here’s my top 5 right now:
5. Nov. 30 vs Siena. SBU has lost three straight to the Saints, all by three points or less. To better the chances for an at-large NCAA bid this year, Bona must take the Franciscan Cup away from its rivals from Albany. Siena coach Jimmy Patsos is an enigmatic leader, but his methods have worked for years.
The Saints made the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) last season, losing to Morehead State.
4. Nov. 17 vs Florida in Lakeland, Fl. The Gators are one of the Bonnies’ most high-profile opponents in years. A victory against a Power Five conference team is huge for any mid-major team, and UF has the name recognition that could really add some shine to the resume.
It’ll be the Gators’ second season under coach Mike White. They lost to George Washington in the NIT last season.
3. Feb 11 at George Washington. The Bonnies stack up pretty evenly with the defending NIT champions, and this will be their only meeting in the regular season. Graduate student forward Tyler Cavanaugh is back, as is junior forward Yuta Watanabe. Last year’s 64-57 Bona win in a sold-out Reilly Center was one of the most intense games of the season. This time, GW will get home court in DC.
2. Jan. 3 vs Dayton. Which meeting of the Dayton home-and-home is more important? Last year the away team won each matchup, but more often than not, the split is going to occur with each team prevailing at home. With the students on winter break, the RC won’t rock the same, but the brown and white will need to play an “A” game regardless. Kyle Davis, Charles Cooke, Scoochie Smith and Kendall Pollard all return for the Flyers.
1. Feb. 4 vs VCU. CBS Sports Network is carrying this game, which is a likely Homecoming candidate. The Rams are as powerful as ever, with JeQuan Lewis, Justin Tillman, Mo Alie-Cox and Justin Burgess as notable returnees. Bona fans will likely be replaying Marcus Posley’s 2015 buzzer-beater and the ensuing courtstorm all week long in preparation for another Saturday showdown.