The 12th seed, VCU Rams (27-7,15-3 A 10) is no stranger to the NCAA Tournament. They have 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 in the 2015-2016 season. Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7, 4-2 WCC) is coming off an impressive back-to back 26-win season. Last season, the Gaels lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and they are looking to combat their bad defense. These two teams will play Friday at 2:00 EDTin the Western Region, located at Albany, New York. The matchup will be made air on TBS. If you are looking for the best betting odds, here is the information to know:
Betting Odds, Money Line, Spread, Under/Over
*All lines taken from Draft Kings*
to Santa Maria: -190
More than: -120
VCU: +4 (-105)
to Santa Maria: -4 (-115)
Regular Season Recap
The VCU Rams is coming off a great season, accomplishing 52 wins over the last two seasons. The Rams entered the NCAA Tournament won 9 games in a row. VCU had key wins against 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 crucial loss to Memphis, currently the 8th seed, 62-47. VCU could have 27 wins this season, however, they have never played a top 25 team in the country. Led by Guard Adrian “Ace” Baldwin Jr., the Rams have the 59th toughest schedule this season. The last time the Rams made it to the Final Four was in the 2011 season as the 11th seed, due in part to their stellar defense. They are ranked 24th in the nation, allowing just over 62 points per game, and held opponents to a 32 percent three-point percentage. They have an incredible defense this year and rank in the top 20 in forced turnovers. The Rams rank near the bottom in scoring, and often rely on turnovers and defense to win games. VCU could have won the A 10 Championship. However, they have a tough game against the Gaels, who are also a defensive minded team.
Saint Mary’s Gaels
to Santa Maria 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 losses against Houston, and Gonzaga. They started the season with 6 straight wins and finished the season winning 17 of their last 20. In addition, they have the 12th toughest schedule this year. The Gaels are top 5 in the nation in opponent points per game, partly due to guard Logan Johnson averaging more than 1 steal a game. He is a player with grit, scoring ability, and often gets the boards. On the plus side, the Gaels shared the WCC title with Gonzaga, who ranked in the top 5 in offense. Saint Mary’s didn’t get hot, dropping two games to Gonzaga. The Gaels will rely on Johnson and the 3-point shot, where they rank 35th. Like VCU, they’re not strong at the free throw line, ranking just below 270th. This game will come down to defense and forced turnovers.
Jarren McAllister (Guard)
to Santa Maria
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 more than 2 game stealers, gives the ability to play, and dishes out 5.9 helps a game. In the Conference Championship game against Dayton, he scored 16 points on 33 % 3-point shooting. He showed his playmaking ability with 7 assists. His best game of the season came against St. Louis with 37 points, on 80 % from 3-point, and 12-15 from the field. Look for him to be heavily involved in this game.
VCU doesn’t have an elite star, instead a mix of players who can all score in double-digits. Forward Brandon Johns Jr is another guard who can provide scoring, and often rebound.
to Santa Maria
Senior Guard Logan Johnson is a beloved player for Saint Mary’s. He began his career in Cincinnati and played for the Gaels the past four seasons. Logan is not a player who consistently knocks down three-point shots. He averaged 30% from beyond the arc this season. However, Logan plays incredible defensese, and averaged 1.5 steals a game. He is built with resilience, and the Gaels will rely heavily on him against a top VCU defense. Johnson was red hot at the end of the season, scoring 27, 29, and 27 points. In the last three games of the season, he averaged 58 % from 3-point, and 61.7 field goal percentage in those games.
Freshman Guard Aidan Mahaney will be a major factor in this game. He averaged a solid 14.5 points per game, and can drive to the basket while on the ball. In addition, he averaged 41.2% from the 3-point line this season.
Junior Center Mitchell Saxen will provide paint defense and an effective scoring option. Saxen averaged 7.8 boards a game and 1.1 blocks. The 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 below.
• VCU AND to Santa Maria has an average of 71.4 points per gametied for 200th and 201st.
• VCU ranked 34th in the points are allowed with 62.9 opponent points per game.
• VCU in the 322nd in rebounds per game with 33.3.
• VCU ranked 35th in the point differential at +8.5.
• VCU ranks 36th in blocked shots with 4.6 per game.
• to Santa Maria rank 5th in points are allowed with 60.1 opponent points per game.
• to Santa Maria ranked 171st in rebounds per game with 35.6
• to Santa Maria on the 17th at point differential at +11.2
• VCU Average 34.7% from 3-point, while Saint Mary’s average is 37.2 % beyond the arch.
LAST 10 GAMES + GAME PREDICTION
• SPREAD: VCU +4
–VCU spread covered in 7 of their last 10 games.
–VCU with an 18-15-1 record ATS this season.
–to Santa Maria spread covered in JUST FOUR of their last 10.
–to Santa Maria with 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. None of these teams are offensive engines. I fully expect a close game with defense on both sides.
• MONEY LINE: Saint Mary’s
–VCU won the Money Line 9 of their last 10 games
–to Santa Maria won the Money Line in 7 of their last 10 games.
–to Santa Maria the average exact points per game as VCU. They have more experience against top 25 teams this season and have a slight advantage in rebounding and offense. Give me the Gaels.
• OVER/UNDER- OVER
–VCU Avg +/- vs O/U Line: -0.82
–to Santa Maria Avg +/- vs O/U Line: -1.06
–VCU All in all O/U Record: 14-20-0
–to Santa Maria all in all O/U Record: 16-16-0
–VCU push the UNDER in 6 of their last 10 games.
–to Santa Maria push the DONE in 6 of their last 10 games.
122 is low for an Over/Under. Although these two teams play incredible defense, I expect both teams to score at least 60 plus points. I chose the over. However, not much.