The 12th seed, VCU Rams (27-7,15-3 A 10) are no strangers to the NCAA Tournament. They appeared in the NCAA Tournament thirteen times since the 2003-2004 season. The last time the Rams made it to the Round of 32 was the 2015-2016 season. Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7, 4-2 WCC) are coming off an impressive back-to back 26-win seasons. Last season, the Gaels lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and they are looking to fight back with their mean defense. These two teams will play on Friday at 2:00 EDT, in the West Region, located in Albany, New York. The matchup will air on TBS. If you are looking for the best betting odds, here is information to know:
Betting Odds, Money Line, Spread, Under/Over
*All lines are taken from Draft Kings*
Saint Mary’s: -190
VCU: +4 (-105)
Saint Mary’s: -4 (-115)
Regular Season Recap
The VCU Rams are coming off an excellent season, accomplishing 52 wins in the last two seasons. The Rams come into the NCAA Tournament winning 9 straight games. VCU had key wins over Pittsburg, Dayton, George Mason, and Vanderbilt. In fact, they are the ONLY team to represent the Atlantic-10 this year. They averaged a +14-point differential during the A 10 Championship against Davidson, Saint Louis, and Dayton. The Rams endured a key loss to Memphis, currently the 8th seed, 62-47. VCU may have 27 wins this season, however, they have yet to play a top 25 team in the nation. Led by Guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr., the Rams had the 59th hardest schedule this season. The last time the Rams made the Final Four was the 2011 season as an 11th seed, partially due to their stellar defense. They rank 24th in the nation, allowing just over 62 points-per game, and held opponents to a 32 percentage three-point percentage. They have an incredible defense this year and rank top 20th in forced turnovers. The Rams rank near the bottom in scoring, and often rely on turnovers and defense to win games. VCU may have won the A 10 Championship. However, they have a tough matchup against the Gaels, who are also a defensive minded team.
Saint Mary’s Gaels
Saint Mary’s had an impressive season, finishing 26-7 overall, and 14-2 in the WCC. Saint Mary’s had key wins over Oral Roberts, Vermont, SDSU, Vanderbilt, and an OT thriller against Gonzaga. They are 2-3 against top 25 teams this year, and took key loses against Houston, and Gonzaga. They started the season with 6 straight wins and ended the season winning 17 of their last 20. In addition, they had the 12th hardest schedule this year. The Gaels are top 5 in the nation in opponent points per game, partially due to guard Logan Johnson averaging over 1 steal a game. He is a player with grit, has scoring capability, and can often grab boards. On the plus side, the Gaels split the WCC title with Gonzaga, who ranks top 5 in offense. Saint Mary’s has not been hot, dropping two games to Gonzaga. The Gaels will heavily rely on Johnson and the 3-point shot, where they rank 35th. Much like VCU, they are not strong at the free throw line, ranking in the bottom 270th. This game will come down to defense and forced turnovers.
Jarren McAllister (Guard)
Matt Van Komen (Center)
Mason Forbes (Forward)
Junior guard Adrian Baldwin Jr. is a decent scoring option for the Rams. However, he is inconsistent from the 3-point range. Baldwin Jr. averages over 2 steals a game, provides playmaking ability, and dishes out 5.9 assists a game. In the Conference Championship game against Dayton, he scored 16 points on 33 % 3-point shooting. He showcased his playmaking abilities with 7 assists. His best game of the season came against St. Louis with 37 points, on 80 % from the 3-point, and 12-15 from the field. Look for him to be heavily involved in this game.
VCU does not have an elite star, rather a mix of players who can all score in double-digits. Forward Brandon Johns Jr is another guard who can provide scoring, and often rebounds.
Senior Guard Logan Johnson is a beloved player for Saint Mary’s. He started his career with Cincinnati and played for the Gaels the past four seasons. Logan is not a player who knocks down three-point shots consistently. He averaged 30 % beyond the arc this season. However, Logan plays incredible defense, and averages 1.5 steals a game. He is built with tenacity, and the Gaels will heavily rely on him against a top VCU defense. Johnson was red hot at the end of the season, scoring 27, 29, and 27 points. During the last three games of the season, he averaged 58 % from the 3-point, and 61.7 field goal percentage over those games.
Freshman Guard Aidan Mahaney will be a key factor in this game. He averaged a solid 14.5 points per game,and can drive to the basket while on ball. In addition, he averaged 41.2 % from the 3-point line this season.
Junior Center Mitchel Saxen will provide defense in the paint and is an effective scoring option. Saxen averages 7.8 boards a game and 1.1 blocks. The Gaels have a slight advantage in the rebounding department over VCU. Look for Saxen and Forward Kyle Bowen to take care of the boards down below.
• VCU AND Saint Mary’s are averaging 71.4 points per game, tied at 200th and 201st.
• VCU ranks 34th in points allowed with 62.9 opponents points per game.
• VCU ranks 322nd in rebounds per game with 33.3.
• VCU ranks 35th in point differential at +8.5.
• VCU ranks 36th in blocked shots with 4.6 per game.
• Saint Mary’s ranks 5th in points allowed with 60.1 opponents points per game.
• Saint Mary’s ranks 171st in rebounds per game with 35.6
• Saint Mary’s ranks 17th in point differential at +11.2
• VCU Averages 34.7% from the 3-point, while Saint Mary’s averages 37.2 % beyond the arc.
LAST 10 GAMES + GAME PREDICTION
• SPREAD: VCU +4
–VCU covered the spread in 7 of their last 10 games.
–VCU has a 18-15-1 record ATS this season.
–Saint Mary’s covered the spread in JUST FOUR of their last 10.
–Saint Mary’s has a 19-13-0 record ATS this season.
–VCU has won 9 straight. In their last three games, the largest spread covered was -7.5. Neither of these teams are offensive machines. I fully expect a close game with defense on BOTH sides.
• MONEY LINE: Saint Mary’s
–VCU won the Money Line 9 out of their last 10 games
–Saint Mary’s won the Money Line in 7 of their last 10 games.
–Saint Mary’s averages the exact points per game as VCU. They have more experience against top 25 teams this season and slight edge in rebounding and on offense. Give me the Gaels.
• OVER/UNDER- OVER
–VCU Avg +/- vs O/U Line: -0.82
–Saint Mary’s Avg +/- vs O/U Line: -1.06
–VCU Overall O/U Record: 14-20-0
–Saint Mary’s overall O/U Record: 16-16-0
–VCU hit the UNDER in 6 of their last 10 games.
–Saint Mary’s hit the OVER in 6 of their last 10 games.
122 is low for an Over/Under. Although both of these teams play incredible defense, I expect both teams to score at LEAST 60 plus points. I picked the over. However, not by much.