South Region Betting: #5 VCU Rams vs #12 Akron Zips

2013 NCAA Tournament – South Region Second Round
#5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams vs #12 Akron Zips
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 9:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
The Palace of Auburn Hills – Auburn Hills, Michigan
Opening Line: VCU -6 1/2
Current Line: VCU -8
Opening Total: 136
Current Total: 134 1/2
Opening Money Line: VCU -350 / Akron +280
Opening Money Line: VCU -360 / Akron +290

VCU is an 8 point favorite against Akron in the South region second round in Auburn Hills.
VCU is an 8 point favorite against Akron in the South region second round in Auburn Hills.

Two years after making an unlikely Final Four run, the 26-8 Virginia Commonwealth Rams have their highest seed in the NCAA Tournament since 1984. The Rams moved to the Atlantic 10 from the CAA this season. VCU finished second in the A-10 with a 12-4 record a game behind 13-3 Saint Louis. The Rams lost to Saint Louis 62-56 in the Atlantic 10 Championship game Sunday. VCU was seeded 5th in the South region of the NCAA tournament.

The Rams will take on the #12 seeded Akron Zips in the second round Thursday in Auburn Hills Michigan. The winner will take on the winner of #4 Michigan and #13 South Dakota St in the third round Sunday. Akron is 26-6 overall, and finished 14-2 in the MAC. They tied with Ohio for the best record in the regular season. The Zips would beat Ohio in the final of the MAC tournament last Saturday 65-46.

VCU leads the series 6-0 against Akron. The two teams did not play this year, but played the previous 5 seasons. The Rams won in Akron in 2011 76-75 in overtime. This is the first neutral site game between the teams.

VCU is coached by Shaka Smart. Smart was an assistant at Akron for 3 years before coming to VCU. The Rams have losses to Wichita St, Duke & Missouri in a tournament in the Bahamas, at Richmond, LaSalle, Saint Louis twice, and at Temple. All except Richmond are NCAA Tournament teams. The Rams have key wins over Florida-Gulf Coast, at Winthrop, Memphis in the Bahamas, Belmont, Alabama, Western Kentucky, Lehigh, Dayton, at St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s twice, at Duquesne, at Rhode Island, Fordham, at Charlotte, UMass twice, George Washington, at Xavier, Butler, and Richmond. VCU is 10-17 ATS and the total is 13-13 this season.

VCU is outscoring teams 77-65 this season. The Rams are #13 in scoring nationally. VCU shoots 44.9% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. The Rams make 70.1% of their free throws. VCU averages 34.8 rebounds per game and give up 30.8. Ram opponents are shooting 44.4% from the field and 33.6% from 3 point range. VCU averages 15 assists, 12 steals, 3 blocks and 12 turnovers per game.

Guard Treveon Graham averages 15.5 points, 6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. Forward Juvonte Reddic averages 14.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game to lead the team. Guard Troy Daniels averages 12.1 points and 3 rebounds.  Rob Brandenburg averages 10.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.3 steals. Darius Theus averages 7.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Melvin Johnson averages 7 points, 1.5 rebounds, and 1 assist. Briante Weber averages 5.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 2.8 steals per game.

Akron is coached by Keith Dambrot. Akron has losses at Coastal Carolina, to Oklahoma St in tournament in Puerto Rico, at Creighton, at Detroit, at Buffalo, and Kent St. The Zips lost two of their last 3 regular season games after a 19 game winning streak. Akron has key wins over UNC-Asheville & Penn St in Puerto Rico, Middle Tennessee, Cleveland St, Princeton, Western Michigan, Ball St, Kent St twice, at Toledo, Ohio 3 times, and North Dakota St. Akron is 14-12-1 ATS and the total is 6-16-1 this season.

Akron is outscoring teams 73-62 this season, and are in the top 60 in both categories. The Zips are shooting 45.8% from the field and 33.8% from 3 point range. Akron is #306 out of 347 teams in free throw shooting at 64.5% from the line. The Zips average 38 rebounds per game and give up 28.4 per game. Akron opponents are shooting¬† 38.9% from the field and 31.8% from 3 point range. The Zips are #25 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Akron averages 15 assists, 7 steals, 6 blocks, and 14 turnovers.

Center Zeke Marshall averages 13 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks per game. Forward Demetrius Treadwell averages 11.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Guard Alex Abreu is suspended indefinitely after being arrested for possession of marijuana. He averaged 10.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Nick Harney averages 9.7 points, 4 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. Brian Walsh averages 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Jake Kretzer, Chauncey Gilliam, Reggie McAdams, Pat Forsythe, Deji Ibitayo, and Carmelo Betancourt make up the rest of the rotation.

Akron is 7-1-2 ATS in Thursday games, 12-3-1 in neutral site games, 10-4-1 in non-conference games, 27-12 after a cover, 34-16-1 against teams with winning records, 35-17-1 after a straight up win, 1-4 overall, and 1-5 against Atlantic 10 teams.

VCU is 11-1 ATS in NCAA tournament games, 3-7 after failing to cover, 1-4 against teams with winning records, overall, and in neutral site games. and 0-5 after a straight up loss.

Akron is a good defensive team, but VCU is one of the highest scoring teams in the country. The Zips have been able to weather the loss of point guard Abreu so far, but it will be tough to score without him against VCU. I like the rams to win, but Akron keeps it close. Five of the games in this series have been decided by 6 points or less.

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