13) Saint Louis vs. (4) Virginia Tech
Time: FRI, 9 PM CT (Tru TV)
Spread: VATC -10
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Virginia Tech Hokies finished its season 24-8 with a 12-6 mark in ACC play. It lost two of its final four games, including a 63-65 loss to Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals. The Hokies drew #13 seeded Saint Louis and are 10-point favorites in the first round over the the Billikens. The over/under is set at 126 points according to NCAA basketball oddsmakers, and the game will tip off at 9 PM (CT) on Tru TV.
Virginia Tech went 16-14-1 ATS this season. It started the season 5-0 before losing to Penn State. However, following that loss to PSU the Hokies proceeded to win nine in a row before a loss to then-No. 4 Virginia.
The Hokies are led by Nickeil Alexander-Walker who averaged 16.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and four assists per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three. Kerry Blackshear Jr., Justin Robinson, and Ahmed Hill all averaged 13 points or better on the season, and the Hokies averaged 74 points per game as a team while shooting a collective 47.5 percent from the field.
The Hokies are a great shooting team, nearly good for 40 percent on threes on 779 attempts this season. It also knocks down its free throws well, with the team shooting 75.8 percent from the line on the season. Virginia Tech also ranked No. 11 in team defense, holding opponents to just 62.1 points per game while scoring 74 itself. The Hokies held four of its final five opponents to 70 points or less, despite the fact that the Hokies lost to Florida State twice in that span. Florida State is a 4 seed and popular pick for the Final Four, so it is tough to read too much into those losses.
The Hokies are hoping Nickeil Alexander-Walker can continue his hot play: Over his last five games he has averaged 17.2 points per game, including a 21-point game against FSU and a 21 point, 10 rebounds, eight steal performance against Miami on Mar. 8 in a 84-70 win.
The Saint Louis Billikens finished its season 23-12 with a 10-8 record in A-10 play. The Billikens won its final three games, including a 55-53 win over St Bonaventure in the A-10 title game. In that win, the Billikens got 16 points from Jordan Goodwin. The Billikens only went two-deep into its bench, and its starters all played 35 minutes or more with the exception of DJ Foreman (24 minutes). So, Saint Louis is not a deep team, and if Virginia Tech can accelerate the pace of the game, it easily could tire out the Billikens thin bench.
Saint Louis is led by Javon Bess’ 15.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Tremaine Isabell Jr and Goodwin average 13 and 10 points per game respectively, but the Billikens overall are a poor shooting team. It shot just 41.9 percent from the field during the season while knocking down just 31 percent of its threes. Its top three offensive options all shoot 33 percent or worse from three, and the Billikens attempted 630 on the season, which is on the low side. Bess led the team in attempts (196) and makes (51).
Saint Louis possesses a top-25 defense that holds opponents to just 64.1 points per game, but the Billikens average just 67.4 itself, a win-differential of just 3.3 points. The Billikens are excellent on the glass, though, averaging 39.8 rebounds per game. Overall, this is a very tough draw for St. Louis and its ceiling is not that high due to its poor shooting overall. The ESPN matchup projections give the Billikens just a 9.6 percent chance at victory in this 14 vs. 3 matchup.