NCAA Basketball Picks: St. Joseph's vs. VCU

Ross Benjamin

Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:52 AM GMT

The St. Joseph’s Hawks (23-9) take on the VCU Rams (26-7) on Sunday for the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The opening tip is scheduled for 1:00 PM ET, and the game will be televised nationally by CBS.

St. Joseph’s Hawks vs. VCU Rams

According to NCAA basketball odds VCU is a 5.0 point favorite, and there was no posted total at the time of this writing. These teams met once during the regular season with St. Joe’s winning at home 69-62 winner. NCAA basketball odds showed St. Joe’s covering as a 3.0 point underdog, and the game staying under the total of 138.5. VCU finished 2nd in the Atlantic 10 regular season standings with a record of 12-4, while St. Joe’s finished tied for 3rd at 11-5.

St. Joseph’s Path to the Final

St. Joseph’s churned out a tough 70-67 win over the Dayton Flyers in the quarterfinals of the tournament. The Hawks were able to overcome the hot shooting of the Flyers in that contest. Dayton shot a sizzling 48.2% from the field but was hindered by horrible free throw shooting. The Flyers went a dismal 6-14 from the charity stripe, and it ultimately was the difference in the game.

The Hawks were much more impressive in their semifinal blowout win over St. Bonaventure 67-48. St. Joe’s really clamped down defensively in the contest holding St. Bonaventure to an atrocious 25.4% shooting from the field. The game was tied at 29-29 at the half, but the Hawks were dominating in the 2nd stanza outscoring the Bonnies 38-19, and stamped their ticket to the conference tournament final.

The Road to the Finals for VCU

VCU opened the conference tournament with a convincing 71-53 quarterfinal win over the Richmond Spiders. The win was never in jeopardy with the Rams cruising to a 38-22 halftime lead, and they then proceeded to coast the rest of the way to an easy win. VCU just stifled Richmond defensively holding the Spiders to a miserable 34% shooting from the field. The Rams also dominated Richmond on the glass by a huge 46-28 rebounding margin.

VCU picked up right where they left off in their 74-55 semifinal blowout win over George Washington on Saturday. The Rams defensive pressure really wreaked havoc on the Colonials forcing them to turn the ball over 15 times. Although VCU wasn’t as dominate on the boards as they were in their quarterfinal win they still held a large 34-25 rebounding advantage over the Colonials. Unlike the win over Richmond, VCU held a slim 33-31 lead at the half, and used a 41-24 surge in the 2nd half to pull away and earn a trip to the Atlantic 10 title game.

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Final Analysis

With a RPI rating of #38 we can safely predict the St. Joseph’s Hawks are on the proverbial bubble heading into this contest. They certainly can eliminate any suspense in the process with a win over VCU today, and secure the Atlantic 10 automatic berth. VCU has no such worries. Besides their stellar 26-7 record, the Rams have an excellent RPI raking of #13. Beating VCU twice in the same season certainly isn’t an impossible task for St. Joe’s, but it’s one that won’t come easy. However, desperation and urgency, in addition to being a 5.0 point underdog, leads me to confidently assess the Hawks to be a very good value in this spot.

Free Pick: St. Joseph’s +5.0 over VCU

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