Virginia Commonwealth is the only ranked team on Friday's schedule, and we're tracking the Rams as they travel to Saint Louis for a college basketball odds matchup against the Billikens.
The Virginia Commonwealth Rams stumbled a bit out of the blocks this season with three losses among their first eight games. All appears well now for Shaka Smart's squad as the Rams conclude a 3-game road trip through the Atlantic-10 Conference with a Friday night stop in Arch City.
Virginia Commonwealth will be looking to extend a 10-game win streak when the Rams reach Chaifetz Arena for a date against the Saint Louis Billikens. ESPN2 is carrying the game nationally, the broadcast beginning at 7 PM (ET).
SBR's NCAA basketball odds list VCU as 13 point chalk, and should have a total by mid-morning.
The Rams will also be taking aim at their second consecutive victory over Saint Louis, their one and only victory vs. the Billikens since joining the A-10 prior to the 2012-13 campaign coming at home late on last season's slate. Saint Louis had won the first three conference encounters, one of those in the finals of the 2013 Atlantic-10 Tournament, and the teams have split spread victories in the four league matchups.
Prior to that, the schools met in the finals of the 2010 CBI Tournament, VCU taking both games and beating the spread each time. The last three meetings have all finished under totals in the 134½-135½ range.
Perimeter Defense Tightens During VCU's Streak
A relatively light schedule has helped Virginia Commonwealth (15-3 straight up, 7-10 against the spread) breeze through its first five A-10 games without a loss, a home clash with Davidson the toughest opponent the Rams have faced so far on the conference fixture. The good news is they will have gotten four of their nine league road tilts out of the way once they finish up with Saint Louis on Friday.
The bad news, at least for Virginia Commonwealth backers, is only twice beating the college basketball odds in the five conference matchups. The Rams are coming off a 70-64 victory at Duquesne last Saturday, a game in which they were favored by 14½ at the closing bell, and the final never reached the total, the fourth 'under' in five A-10 battles.
Among the early losses were a pair of lopsided defeats to Villanova and Virginia, plus a 73-67 upset at Old Dominion, the Monarchs never needing the 6 points that odds makers were giving them. All three setbacks shared a common theme, that being some poor defense on the part of VCU. That was especially true out on the perimeter where Villanova, Virginia and Old Dominion combined to shoot 22-of-46 from long range. The Rams were also outscored 48-24 at the free-throw line in those contests.
Billikens Looking For Just 2nd A-10 Victory
It has been a tough third year on the job at Saint Louis (9-9 SU, 4-9 ATS) for head coach Jim Crews. The Billikens have managed just one conference dubya in their first five tries, and SLU bettors have but two winning tickets in the last nine lined affairs.
Offense has never been the focal point of a Saint Louis team, but scoring has been a big sore point this season with the Billikens who rank in the bottom 10% nationally averaging 61.0 points per game, failing to reach the 60-point plateau in five of their last seven. That number is even slightly lower in A-10 contests (60.4 ppg) while the defense is allowing a league-high 71.8 PPG.
Too bad a total hasn't come out yet because I see a lower-scoring game overall, especially since VCU's Treveon Graham questionable with an ankle injury. Neither team excites me that much on the spread, but if a gun was put to my head forcing me to make an NCAA basketball pick. , I'd take the points on the home team.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Saint Louis +13 at 5Dimes
Season: 25-28 (-5.80)