A date with the Lumberjacks may not have been what VCU would have wanted. Find out why inside as we break down the college basketball betting odds.
The Rams opened as five-point favorites, but it looks like the public quickly jumped on the early lines, pushing the spread to 6.5 at most sportsbooks. The O/U has seen some movement, but a good chunk of the sports betting sites has 136.5 available for the taking.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Having lost three of their first five games during the regular season, few could have expected the kind of run the Lumberjacks have since put together.
Since a 66-58 road loss to East Tennessee State on November 23rd, Stephen F. Austin has reeled off 28 consecutive victories, which unsurprisingly included a clean sweep in the Southland Conference tournament. They smashed Sam Houston State by 19 in the championship game.
Much of the Lumberjacks' success has derived from their intensity on the defensive end. They've given up just 62.6 points per game, ranking them 26th in the nation. The Rams are going to have to earn each and every basket they get on Friday.
Stephen F. Austin has four players who average in double figures, including Desmond Haymon, Jacob Parker, Thomas Walkup and Deshaunt Walker. Parker has probably been the team's best overall player, averaging 14.2 points and 7.1 rebounds, while shooting 54.3 percent overall and 46.7 percent from three.
Such sizable winning streaks aren't easy to put together, regardless of the competition the Lumberjacks faced, so there could indeed be something special about this group. We'll find out soon enough.
The Rams hope to put their recent championship game loss to St. Joseph's behind them when they enter Friday's contest as favorites against Stephen F. Austin.
VCU had won six games in a row, including dominant early round victories over Richmond (71-53) and George Washington (74-55) in the conference tournament, but they found their match in in the Hawks.
Still, it was another successful season for Shaka Smart's bunch, who finished at 26-8 SU overall with a couple standout wins over Virginia and Saint Louis.
The Rams are renowned for their havoc style of defense and they were excellent in that regard again in 2013/14. They forced more turnovers than any other team in the country and will be hoping they can frustrate Stephen F. Austin into a lot of mistakes.
As for individual players to keep an eye out for, Treveon Graham and Juvonte Reddic have stood out. Graham averaged 15.7 PPG and 7.0 RPG and Reddic was good for 11.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG – both will need to bring their A games if VCU wants to advance.
College Basketball Pick
We expect a great fight out of the Lumberjacks here in the second round and really wouldn't be that shocked if they upset the Rams.
This is a confident bunch at Stephen F. Austin, and we've come to expect that there's always at least one unsuspecting darling that shows up and kills brackets with upsets galore. The Lumberjacks have the talent and moxie to be this year's version of a Cinderella story, with their toughness defensively sure to put them in a good position to win.
So while the public hit VCU hard when the college basketball betting lines were first released, we think the smart money will come in on the underdogs. We look for a cover out of Stephen F. Austin on Friday night for our college basketball picks.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks +6.5