VCU Tops Pair of A-10 Picks Wednesday

VCU Basketball

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 1:48 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 1:48 PM GMT

A pair of ATS picks out of Atlantic 10 matchups top our best bets in college hoops Wednesday. Check out our predictions for VCU at Saint Joseph’s and Saint Louis at Davidson here.

VCU at Saint Joseph’s (-1)

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Free NCAAB Pick: VCU -105Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

VCU (9-5 SU, 5-5 ATS) is sporting a season-high four game win streak as it squares off at Saint Joseph’s (5-7 SU, 4-6 ATS) in just its second true road test of the season. First-year head coach Mike Rhoades, a former assistant under Shaka Smart, runs some elements of the old Havoc full-court press teams that infuriated opponents defensively and catapulted the Rams to one of the top mid-major programs in the nations. The main emphasis now is offense—a fast-paced, 3-point friendly one. VCU ranks 87th in adjusted efficiency per KenPom, scoring 77.7 points per game on 45.9 percent shooting. The top points-getter is forward Justin Tillman. The senior is lighting it up of late, posting four double-doubles in his last eight games, while averaging 22.6 points and 9.4 rebounds.

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Justin Tillman hits the first official three of the A-10 season. Orange slices for everyone. #LetsGoVCU pic.twitter.com/aNAVV0yZ1k

— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) December 30, 2017
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Does St. Joe’s have the firepower to match the Rams? This is the question bettors need to answer headed into this matchup. The offense ranks 129th in efficiency, scoring 73.6 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting. Quicker than VCU, it has hit 80 points just three times all season, and against weaker: Toledo (87), Illinois-Chicago (86), and Bucknell (83). Saint Joe’s put up 78 in a loss against cross-city rival Temple in its best game of the year, but has been cold from the field in every other contest. Throw out these four games and the Hawks average 68.6 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting.

In the last calendar year, Saint Joe’s is just 1-14 SU and 5-9-1 ATS against conference foes with a better winning percentage. The lone victory was a 1-point home win over LaSalle (73-72) last January. Poor shooting is the issue, averaging 66.1 points on 40.7 percent from the floor. The Hawks hit 36.8 percent of their field goals in a 70-64 defeat at George Washington in it’s only effort this season under this scenario. Rams win it in a close one. Pick them straight up for a little value.

Saint Louis at Davidson (-9)

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Free NCAAB Pick: Saint Louis +9Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

The quickest and easiest way to fix a bad team is to improve the defense. That’s what’s happening at Saint Louis (7-7 SU, 5-6 ATS) under second-year head coach Travis Ford. The former Oklahoma State leader has the Billikens ranked 83rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, yielding 99.0 points per 100 possessions. The team ranks third in the Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring defense, allowing 66.4 points per game. Its 42.3 opponent field goal percentage is second lowest.

Can the Billikens slow down Davidson (5-7 SU, 4-7 ATS)? The Wildcats are one of the best-coached teams in the nation behind Bob McKillop, thriving on slick ball movement, back-door cuts, and spacing for easy 3-point shots. The Wildcats lead the nation in assist-turnover ratio (1.93) and are eight in 3-pointer per game (11.4). The trio of Peyton Aldridge, Kellan Grady, and Axel Gudmundsson account for 66.0 percent of Davidson’s points, and are a combined 79 for 137 from behind the arc.

Ford, known for his recruiting, doesn’t have his pieces in place, but has turned this bunch into a gritty, hard-working defensive unit that misses few assignments and excels covering the break. The over/under suggest a rare grind-it-out type of matchup for Davidson. This is the lowest game total (136) for an A-10 contest at Belk Arena since 2014. As home chalk hosting conference foes, the Cats are just 2-5 ATS (4-3 SU) with a game total south of 150 points since 2015. They are failing to cover a -9.6 average line by 7.1 points per game. Davidson should come out on top, but will prove frustrated in stretches. Take the 9 points with Saint Louis. This one might be more interesting than advertised.

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