NCAA Tournament South Region Betting Preview: (5) VCU Rams vs. (12) S.F. Austin Lumberjacks
Betting Odds courtesy of Bovada
After years being being a Cinderella, people don’t really sleep on Virginia Commonwealth anymore. Shaka Smart’s squad lost its final game of the season to St. Joe’s, but had reeled off a six game win streak prior to that which included an impressive 67-56 win over St. Louis on Mar 1. The Rams finished the season 26-8 with a 12-4 mark against Atlantic-10 competition. VCU enters its second round matchup against S.F. Austin as six-point favorites according to college basketball oddsmakers at Bovada.
The Rams didn’t face a lot of top-shelf competition during the season, but against the better schools it did face, it held its own. The Rams defeated the No. 1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers on Nov 12; lost by just four-points to Georgetown on Nov 24; and split games with SLU.
Smart’s team averaged 75.4 points per game this season, but shot just 42 percent from the field. The Rams are a good three-point shooting team, with a 35 percent mark as a team and Treveon Graham leads the team in scoring with 15.7 points per game. Graham is a 34 percent three-point shooter and takes nearly five attempts per game. He’s also a superb rebounder for a 6’6″ guard, averaging seven boards per game.
Juvonte Reddic is a good, big body on the inside for VCU. The 6’9″ 250 pound senior averages 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 combined steals/blocks while posting 11.9 points per game. He’s shot over 50 percent from the floor the past three seasons at VCU, though it should be noted he is a poor free throw shooter and takes a decent amount (4.3 per game at a 54 percent clip).
Stephen F. Austin finished the season with a 31-2 record and swept its conference 18-0. The Lumberjacks faced almost no good opponents all season, typical enough of a mid-major school, and it was soundly defeated by Texas 72-62 on Nov 15. The Lumberjacks didn’t face any other NCAA tournament teams over the course of its season, which makes it difficult to gauge how it will react to some better competition.
The Lumberjacks essentially use a six-man rotation, with five players averaging nine points per game or better. Desmond Haymon and Jacob Parker both average 14 per game and Parker has shot the ball very well this season, hitting 54 percent from the floor and 46 percent from three-point range. SF Austin proved it could put up points against JV-like competition, but can it do it against the Rams and the greater tournament field should it manage to score this upset?
VCU Trends: UNDER 16-5 in last 21 neutral site games; 2-6 ATS in last 8 Friday games; UNDER 19-7 in last 26 non-conference games.