Within today's NCAA Basketball betting slate, the matchup between Virginia Commonwealth & Richmond stands out to this handicapper. Find out why he recommends adding this selection to your sports picks tonight.
VCU (-1-) vs. Richmond (7:00 ET ESPN2)
At 7 pm ET, the VCU Rams travel across town to the Robins Center as favorites in NCAA Basketball odds, where they will meet intra-city rival Richmond in an A10 Conference game. Perennial champion, VCU, enters at 21-6 SU, 11-3 SU in league play. That record is tied with Rhode Island for the top spot in the league. For the season, Richmond is 15-12 SU, 8-6 SU in the league. These teams met earlier this season, when Richmond won the game (64-55) as 9 point underdog at the VCU Siegel Center. That win by Richmond snapped a 16-game conference winning streak by VCU. That game saw VCU lead by as many as 11 points. But, failed to get the victory when they made just 3/20 shots from behind the arc. Now, the Rams, who have seldom been swept in a season series since joining the A10, look for revenge. When making my NCAA Basketball picks, I figure they will get it in style.
Richmond is smartly coached by 10th year mentor Chris Mooney. A disciple of the Princeton style offense, Mooney’s Spiders are a disciplined and patient team. That is reflected by the fact they make 46% of their shots and turnover the ball less than 10 times per game. That would appear to be the ideal formula to defeat a VCU team who is always among the league leaders in forced TOs. But that did not play out in Richmond’s favor last year, when they were spanked by the Rams by margins of 11, 6, and 18 points. The Robins Center is a valuable ally for Richmond, where they are 50-14 SU L4Y, including 12-3 SU TY. Note that 2 of those 3 losses were against the toughest opponents they faced on this court in Rhode Island and Wake Forest. Neither of them are as good as this highly rated VCU team.
Sixth year VCU HC Shaka Smart has made his mark in Richmond with his “havoc” defense. The premise is to bring waves of defenders at the opponent for a full 40 minutes, creating the ultimate in pressure defense. The result is that the Rams perennially force as many TOs as anybody in NCAA Basketball. This year, they force an average of 17 TOs per game. In building the program, Smart showed no fear in playing a difficult schedule. This year, it has included neutral court victories over Tennessee and Oregon and a road win at Cincinnati. In addition, they faced quality opponents, Villanova, Virginia and N. Iowa. This strength of schedule prepared them for a road slate which has seen the Rams go 8-2 SU in pure road contests. This includes 6-1 SU in conference games. In my recently penned article entitled the “2015 Roadrunners of College Basketball,” you will note that VCU is among the 22 teams that compromise this list of CBKB teams who win 67% or better of their true road games. Among the conclusions of the article is that when these quality road teams are installed as underdog or when laying no more than 5 ½ points, they are an astounding 90-35 ATS (72%) winners. Throw in rivalry revenge for a Top of the Ticket winner tonight!
NCAA Basketball Picks: Take VCU at 5Dimes