#12 VCU vs. #5 Wichita State
Tip off: 7:15 PM EST
Spread: WIT -6
M/L: WIC -275, VCU +235
VCU was the Cinderella of last year’s tournament. Despite finishing with a 28-12 record during the regular season, not too many took the Rams all that seriously, until they found themselves in the Final Four, where they lost to Butler by 8 points.
Why aren’t the Rams predicted to do the same this year? They lost four of their five starters, including Jamie Skeen. Without Skeen, the Rams have become one of the worst rebounding teams in this tournament, averaging only 33.7 rebounds per game.
They are led by the trio of Bradford Burgess, Juvonte Reddic, and Troy Daniels, who combine to average 33.9 points per game, roughly half of the Rams’ offensive output. Burgess has been a four year starter for VCU, and he’s taken on a bigger role in each of his seasons as a Ram. This year, he attempted six threes per game and banged them at a 36% clip. His outside shooting should make the Rams an interesting team once again, as we all know that just because a team lives and dies by the three, doesn’t mean they will die by it…not in a short tournament where things can presumably go very well for just enough games to win it all.
Amazing, however, is the fact that the Rams are 11-1 in games in which Burgess scores under 10 points. Perplexing as that stat is, it’s worth keeping an eye on, because just because Burgess stinks it up doesn’t mean that VCU is out of it.
Rams Betting Trends:
VCU is 17-14 ATS in their last 31 games. They are 7-1 ATS against teams with winning records after 15 or more games and 5-1 ATS against teams that allow less than 64 points per game. They are 221-205 ATS since 1997.
Wichita State won the NIT last year. Now, onto a tournament that matters…
The Shockers finished 27-5 this season, as they exited non-conference play with a 11-3 record, then went on to win 16 of their 18 conference games with the only losses coming to Drake and the ranked Creighton squad.
They closed the season with a loss to Illinois State, which was a disappointment to be sure. They received strong games fro Joe Ragland (17 points), Toure’ Murry (15), and Ben Smith (14), but were unable to hit shots down the stretch, losing the conference championship to an inferior team.
The Shockers receive strong contributions from all five starters, but are led by Garrett Stutz’ 13.5 points per game. Stutz, a 7 foot senior, also leads the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) and blocked shots (2.1 per game). His defense and rebounding anchors a strong Wichita defense, which is better than the statistics would dictate due to their fast paced game. Stutz is averaging 9 points per game over the last five contests, and has failed to score in double figures in 3 of those games. Nonetheless, the Shockers are 4-1 over that stretch.
Shockers Betting Trends:
The Shockers are 15-13 ATS in their last 28 games and are 14-11 ATS as a favorite. They are 9-10 ATS vs. teams with winning records and 10-8 ATS following a conference game. They are also a notable 1-4 ATS in neutral court games.