2016 NCAA Tournament
West Region – Second Round
#10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs #2 Oklahoma Sooners
Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 5:15 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Oklahoma -6 1/2 (-115)
Current Line: Oklahoma -6 1/2 (-105)
Opening Total: 146
Current Total: 147 1/2
Opening Money Line: Oklahoma -295 / VCU +235
Current Money Line: Oklahoma -300 / VCU +250
The 26-7 Oklahoma Sooners take on the 25-10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the second round Sunday in Oklahoma City. The Sooners are the #2 seed in the West region and VCU is the #10 seed. the winner will face either #3 seed Texas A&M or #11 Northern Iowa in the sweet 16 next week in Anaheim. The series is tied 2-2 between Oklahoma and VCU. The Rams won the last game in 2009 against the Sooners.
VCU is coached by Will Wade. The Rams are playing in their 15th NCAA Tournament including six straight. Virginia Commonwealth looks to return to the sweet 16 for the first time since making a Final four run in 2011. VCU tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 at 14-4 with Dayton and St. Bonaventure. The Rams beat Massachusetts in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament in Brooklyn and Davidson in the semifinals. However, VCU lost to St. Joseph’s 87-74 in the championship game. VCU beat #7 seed Oregon State 75-67 in the first round Friday in OKC.
VCU has neutral site losses to Duke and Wisconsin in New York City, and Florida State in Atlanta, plus road losses at Georgia Tech, UMass, George Mason, and Dayton. The Rams have home losses to Cincinnati and George Washington. VCU has home wins over American, Old Dominion, Buffalo, Liberty, North Florida, George Mason, Fordham, Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Rhode Island, Richmond and Davidson. The Rams have road wins over Middle Tennessee, St. Joseph’s, Saint Louis, Richmond, Davidson, LaSalle, and George Washington. The Rams are 21-9 ATS and the total is 15-15 this season. VCU was a 4 point favorite against Oregon State and the total was 141.5.
Oklahoma is coached by Lon Kruger. The Sooners are making their 30th trip to the tournament including four straight seasons. Oklahoma finished third in the Big 12 with a 12-6 record. The Sooners beat Iowa State in the Big 12 quarterfinals in Kansas City but lost to West Virginia 69-67 in the semifinals. Oklahoma had to work hard in an 82-68 first round victory over a game #15 CSU-Bakersfield Friday. Bakersfield actually led briefly in the second half.
Oklahoma is coached by Lon Kruger. The Sooners have road losses at Kansas in triple overtime, Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Texas, plus a home loss to Kansas. The Sooners have neutral site wins over Villanova, Washington State, Hawaii and Harvard all in Hawaii. Oklahoma has road wins at Memphis, Oklahoma State, Baylor, LSU, West Virginia and TCU, along with home wins over Wisconsin, Oral Roberts, Creighton, Iowa State, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Oklahoma is 12-19 ATS and the total is 14-17 this season. The Sooners were 14.5 point favorites against CSUB and the total was 140.
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VCU is outscoring teams 77-67 this season. The Rams are shooting 45% from the field and 35.6% from three point range. VCU makes 69% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 44% from the field and 33.6% from three point range. VCU averages 37.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.4 per game. The Rams average 14.4 assists, 11.4 turnovers, 8.8 steals and 3.8 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.8 assists, 15.4 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 4.1 blocks per game.
Melvin Johnson averages 17.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is probable with an ankle injury. Korey Billbury averages 11.6 points, 5 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. JeQuan Lewis averages 10.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Mo Alie-Cox averages 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. Justin Tillman averages 7.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Five other players will get significant time in the rotation.
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Oklahoma is outscoring teams 81-70 this season. The Sooners are #22 in scoring nationally. Oklahoma is shooting 45.8% from the field and 43% from three point range. The Sooners are #2 in three point shooting nationally. Oklahoma makes 72.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.3% from the field and 33.4% from three point range. The Sooners are #39 nationally in field goal defense. Oklahoma averages 39.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 32.7 per game. The Sooners average 14.9 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 5.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.6 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 7 steals and 3.3 blocks per game.
Guard Buddy Hield is one of the favorites for national player of the year. He averages 25.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Isaiah Cousins averages 13 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Jordan Woodard averages 12.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Ryan Spangler averages 10.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Khadeem Lattin averages 5.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He suffered a cut in practice this week and had to have six stitches, but is expected to play. Dinjiyl Walker and Dante Buford will also get minutes.
VCU is 14-3 ATS in NCAA Tournament games, 9-2 in neutral site games, 25-9 overall, 19-7 after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records, 15-6 after a cover, and 10-4 in non-conference games.
Oklahoma is 5-0 ATS in Sunday games, 7-19 after failing to cover, and overall, 5-17 against teams with winning records, 1-6 in NCAA Tournament games, 0-4 after a win, in non-conference games and in neutral site games.
Oklahoma had a ragged performance against Bakersfield Friday and will have to play a lot better against VCU. The Rams will try to slow down Hield as all teams do. The difference will be if the supporting cast like Woodard and Spangler can make the open shots when Hield is being double or even triple teamed. I think the Sooners pull out a close game to return to the sweet 16 for a second straight season.