NCAA Basketball Picks: Lock Oklahoma To Cover -6.5 vs. VCU

Jason Lake

Saturday, March 19, 2016 9:30 PM GMT

Saturday, Mar. 19, 2016 9:30 PM GMT

Not much surprise to see the No. 10 VCU Rams make the second round. They might even be the right NCAA Basketball pick for Sunday's game against the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 18: 23-13 ATS, 1-4 Totals

I suppose our West Region “bracket” had to get busted sometime. We swept our first three NCAA Tournament picks of the opening round, including Saturday's big win by the No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams, who beat the Oregon State Beavers 75-67 as 4-point favorites on the closing line. But then the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners spoiled the party by hitting a bunch of threes in their 82-68 victory over the No. 15 CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners (OVER 140). Such is life.

So does VCU carry over any of that sweet, sweet betting value into Sunday's second-round matchup of the NCAA Tournament (5:15 p.m. ET, CBS) against the Sooners? Or does playing “at home” in Oklahoma City give OU the advantage it needs against the spread? It wasn't quite enough against CSUB (+14.5). At press time, the Sooners are laying 7 points on the NCAA Tournament odds board, and if we want to give it another crack, the total is pegged at 147.5 points, up from 146 at the open.

 

Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma~!
You know the drill by now. Let's start with some measurements:

FiveThirtyEight (Elo): Oklahoma –10 to –10.5
Sports-Reference (SRS): Oklahoma –10.26

Very nice; we have some agreement between our go-to hoop nerds. In this case, as we should have done in the CSUB-OU game, we've added 3.5 points for home-court advantage (Norman is 20 miles south of Oklahoma City) while working out the kayfabe spread according to Simple Rating System. We still would have recommended the UNDER – and we still would have lost. The Sooners (26-7 SU, 12-19 ATS) nailed 11 of their 20 trey attempts, and the Roadrunners surprised us by playing some fast-paced transition basketball. Oh well.

The Rams (25-10 SU, 21-9 ATS) didn't surprise too many people with their opening-round win. But according to these projections, they're on the wrong side of the odds this time. Beating the wounded Beavers was one thing; the Sooners are one of the very best teams in Division I. Their ATS record is awful, especially compared to VCU's, but as they say, past performance yadda yadda.

Maybe the Sooners are the sharp pick after all. They had a slim 51-percent majority of early bettors on their side when they opened at –6.5. If you shop around, and of course you should, you can still find OU at that price, or at least you could have as we go to press. Every half-point counts. As for that total, our surveys show 100 percent unanimity on the OVER, which explains how it got pumped up as big as it has. If we knew the Sooners were going to hit over .500 from downtown every night, maybe we'd join the fun, but we'll stick with what appears to be a fairly generous point spread, thank you kindly.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Oklahoma -6.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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