Virginia Commonwealth is 12-3 against the spread in its last 15 NCAA tournament games; Ohio State is 1-5 ATS over its last six tournament bouts. The Rams butt heads with the Buckeyes in the West Region's 7-vs.-10 game Thursday afternoon out in Portland.
Rams-Buckeyes Betting Odds
Most NCAA Basketball odds opened this game with Ohio State, the lower seed, favored by a couple of points, and the public seems to agree, quickly betting the Buckeyes up to -4.
Actually, according to Sagarin's predictor ratings at USAToday.com, Ohio State should be favored by seven points for this game. But this is one case where Sagarin puzzles us.
Also, the total on this game opened at right around 137.
Those who like VCU to win this game outright (hint) could get the Rams at +159 on the moneyline at Pinnacle.
VCU was rolling along into late February, with 16 wins in 19 games, but then lost three in a row, to Richmond, Dayton and Davidson, as starting PG Briante Weber was lost for the season to a knee injury. The Rams then ended the regular season with a victory over George Mason, finishing 12-6 in conference play, tied for fourth place, behind Davidson and Dayton, who both made this NCAA tournament, and Rhode Island, which missed it. The A-10 should have sent four teams to the Dance.
VCU then won four games in four days, exacting revenge on Richmond, Davidson and Dayton, to win the A-10 tournament. So with the automatic berth the Rams are Dancing for the fifth season in a row.
On the whole VCU has been a bad bet this season, probably in part because it's now a nationally-known brand, and therefore playing against tougher lines. The Rams are 3-0 ATS in their last three games, but were 11-20 ATS before that.
VCU is also 7-4 SU but 5-6 ATS against teams that made the NCAA Tournament this season. The Rams own victories against Oregon, Northern Iowa, Belmont (champion of the Ohio Valley) and Cincinnati, while going 3-2 against conference foes Dayton and Davidson.
Ohio State finished 11-7 in the Big Ten, in sixth place, behind Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan State, Iowa and Purdue, all of whom are also playing in this tournament. With the at-large berth the Buckeyes are Dancing for the seventh straight season.
Ohio State enjoyed a 5-1 run into mid-February, but has lost four of its last seven games SU, going 3-4 ATS. The Buckeyes ended the regular season with a 24-point home loss to Wisconsin, beat Minnesota in the Big Ten tournament 79-73, then lost to Michigan State 76-67.
On the season Ohio State is just 3-9 both SU and ATS against teams that made the NCAA tournament, with its best wins coming against Indiana, Maryland and Purdue.
Rams-Buckeyes, By the Numbers
Ohio State is shooting just under 49 percent from the field this season, which ranks in the top 10 in the country, while holding opponents to 40.5 percent FG shooting.
VCU is shooting only 42 percent from the floor, while allowing opponents to shoot 43 percent. But numbers such as those don't quite encompass what the Rams are about.
Rams-Buckeyes Betting Trends
VCU is 13-16 on the totals this season, as Rams games are averaging 138 points.
Ohio State is 16-14 on the totals, as Buckeyes games are also averaging 138 points.
Rams-Buckeyes Free Pick
VCU is the higher seed here, and while that doesn't necessarily mean much, in this case we think the committee got it right, and the odds makers have it wrong. Ohio State just did not impress us much this season, with just three wins over tournament teams. We like the Rams for our NCAA Tournament picks, to win this game outright.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: VCU +159 on the moneyline at Pinnacle