Tournament Betting: Motivated VCU -4.5 Our Free Pick vs. Oregon State

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:45 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016 7:45 PM UTC

The VCU Rams may be the No. 10 seeds in their first-round matchup with the No. 7 Oregon State Beavers, but it's VCU laying up to five points on the NCAA basketball odds board.

<p><em><strong>Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 15:</strong></em><em> 18-12 ATS, 1-2 Totals</em></p> <p> </p> <p>When is an underdog not an underdog? When it's the favorite, of course. The No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams find themselves in an unusual spot this Friday afternoon (1:30 p.m. ET, TNT) when they face the No. 7 Oregon State Beavers in the opening round of March Madness; the Rams are 5-point favorites on the <a href="" target="_blank" title="Live Betting Odds Board Here">NCAA basketball odds board</a> as we go to press, up from –4 at the open. Yes, the Rams, the regular-season Atlantic 10 champions, are thought of more highly than the Beavers and their at-large berth from the Pac-12.</p> <p>As they “should” be. The advanced stats all point toward VCU (24-10 SU, 20-9 ATS) as the superior program. But in days of yore, we might have expected the Beavers (19-12 SU, 16-13-1 ATS) to be the favorites in this matchup. They're from a major conference. They've got Gary Payton II (25.9 PER, +12.6 BPM). So do they have any betting value now that the market has wisened up a little?</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Year of the Ram</strong><br /> Let's consult the oracle first. FiveThirtyEight likes the Rams to win this game 73 percent of the time – that works out to something between VCU –6.5 and VCU –7. My goodness. Over at Sports-Reference, the Rams (+13.74 SRS) only grade out 3.75 points higher than the Beavers (+10.99 SRS) according to Simple Rating System. Here we go again. Looks like our friends at S-R might be undervaluing the teams from the lower conferences with their metric.</p> <p>Maybe just a little bit. Ken Pomeory has VCU ranked No. 35 overall (No. 82 offense, No. 22 defense) in Division I, four spots higher than S-R. Meanwhile, the Beavs appear at No. 60 (No. 77 offense, No. 62 defense) on the Pomeroy charts, three spots lower than they do at S-R. Fair enough – there's a reason it's called the Simple Rating System. We'll give Nate Silver's troops and their newfangled projections the benefit of the doubt moving forward, but we'll keep using S-R for screening purposes.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Tinkle Time?</strong><br /> Things could still go pear-shaped for VCU. Senior guard Melvin Johnson (20.4 PER, +6.3 BPM) has a sore left ankle, but he's expected to play Friday. The injury situation isn't so good for Oregon State; freshman forward Tres Tinkle (20.8 PER, +5.6 BPM) is expected to miss his fifth straight game with an injured right foot.</p> <p>That pretty much seals the deal for our <a href="" target="_blank" title="Free Picks &amp; Previews">NCAA basketball picks</a>. Even though the Rams are the favorites this Friday, they still have some betting value as the higher-numbered seed from the smaller conference. As much fun as it is to watch Payton <em>fils</em> play for his dad's alma mater, we have to go with VCU here – and the early consensus numbers are on our side.</p> <p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2999614, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,19,92,238,169], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]<br /> <strong>NCAA Basketball Pick:</strong> VCU -4.5<br /> <strong>Best Line Offered: </strong><a href=";book=Pinnacle" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Play this game at Pinnacle">at Pinnacle</a></p>
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