Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Grab 'Under' In Richmond vs. VCU Game

Willie Bee

Friday, February 19, 2016 2:45 PM GMT

Among the dozen games on Friday's NCAA basketball betting card is a big rivalry in the A-10 where the VCU Rams are home favorites against the crosstown Richmond Spiders.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 148 
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

It takes about 25 minutes, maybe 30 if you hit all the red lights on Grove Street, to get from the University of Richmond campus to Virginia Commonwealth's. Yet this season, the Spiders and Rams might as well be 1,000 miles apart as they renew their rivalry Friday night.

It's a shame that most fans and college basketball bettors don't know how intense this rivalry is for the two schools and their alumni. That's especially true for meetings like tonight when the Spiders and Rams are far apart in the Atlantic-10 standings since it is the rivalry factor that keeps things interesting.

The Spiders and Rams are scheduled for a tip-off a little past 7 PM (ET) at Siegel Center with ESPN2 televising the showdown, one of just a dozen contests on Friday's NCAA basketball betting card. The spread opened with VCU at -8½, that number up to -9 at most shops while Pinnacle has it at -9½ with a little extra juice on Richmond. Bookmaker was among the earliest to post a total, that figure still sitting on the opening 148.

Heading into the weekend, it's a 3-way tie atop the A-10 with this clash the only conference game on Friday's slate. The Rams are joined in first by Saint Joseph's and Dayton, each sporting 11-2 league marks and VCU hoping to become the last of the trio to reach the 20-win plateau. Richmond is five games back in the middle of the 14-team pack with a 6-7 mark in conference play.

 

Defense Biggest Difference Between Teams
Richmond (14-11 straight up, 9-12 against the spread) dug a hole early on the A-10 schedule, losing four of the first six games and six of nine out of the gate. Chris Mooney's side started to dig out by winning three successive contests against UMass, Saint Louis and Fordham, but took another step back this past Tuesday in an 83-79 road loss at Davidson.

Putting points on the board has not been an issue for the Spiders, their 78.0 PPG clip good enough for the top 60 in the country and a nearly 49% field goal success rate in the top 20. They've been consistently beaten on the glass, as was the case in an earlier loss to VCU, and the defense ranks in the lower half of the nation allowing about 74 per night.

Virginia Commonwealth (19-7 SU, 15-6 ATS) bounced back from back-to-back road losses two weeks ago with victories at home against Saint Louis and Rhode Island, covering a 20+ point spread on the NCAA basketball odds in the triumph vs. the Billikens. Will Wade's offense is right there with Richmond averaging 78 per game, the big difference being a defense giving up less than 67 which is good enough for 52nd in the country.

 

Teams Played Overtime Thriller A Month Ago
The Robbins Center crowd didn't go home happy when the schools met in mid-January, but they did get to see an exciting game that ended in a 94-89 overtime decision in favor of VCU. Both sides missed chances at the end of regulation to win it, and Melvin Johnson tallied a career-best 29 to lead the Rams who were 1 point underdogs and increased their advantage in the series to 47-28 (25-13 at Siegel Center).

The teams had gone past regulation six times previous to the January 16 matchup, the Rams only winning in OT once before, and marked the third consecutive 'over' winner in the series. Richmond won both regular season encounters a year ago, dropping a then-No. 14 VCU side with a 64-55 underdog cut getting 9½ by the sports books. The Rams had the last laugh in the A-10 tourney with a 70-67 triumph in the quarterfinals that ultimately doomed the Spiders to the NIT.

It was an 'over' winner when the teams got together a little more than a month ago, but I'm going to go the other way with my free NCAA basketball pick tonight and play the low side of the total.