VCU vs Saint Mary's - West Region, 1st Round

Jason Lake

Thursday, March 16, 2017 12:52 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 16, 2017 12:52 PM UTC

There are no big-name teams to fade in Thursday’s battle between the St. Mary’s Gaels and the VCU Rams. St. Mary’s should still be the right college basketball pick.

  VCU vs Saint Mary's

West Region, 1st Round 
Thursday, March 16 - 7:20 pm E.T

Believe it or not, there’s more than one ranked team in the West Coast Conference. The St. Mary’s Gaels (28-4 SU, 16-11-2 ATS) have been playing brilliant basketball in the shadow of Gonzaga; the Gaels went into March Madness as the No. 22 team on the AP poll, and No. 21 according to the coaches. Not bad for a team that hasn’t been to the Tournament in four years.

But will No. 7 St. Mary’s make it through the No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams (26-8 SU, 12-17-1 ATS) in Thursday’s opening-round matchup, tipping off at 7:20 p.m. Eastern on TBS? You know all about VCU – the team that went to the Final Four in 2011 after squeaking into the First Four. As we go to press, the Rams are 4-point underdogs on the college basketball odds board. And that doesn’t look like enough points from where we’re standing.

Ram Jam

You can pretty much tell from the ATS records how our NCAAB pick is going to play out. Hypothesis: Bettors have given VCU a little too much credit for past Tournament performances, while overlooking what St. Mary’s has done this year. The Rams are maybe the third-best team in the Atlantic 10 behind Dayton and Rhode Island; Ken Pomeroy has them ranked No. 47 overall in Division I, roughly 10 points worse per 100 possessions than the No. 14 Gaels. Call it St. Mary’s –6, given how slowly the favorites move up and down the court.

We're in! We will face St. Mary's on Thursday in Salt Lake City. This will be our seventh consecutive NCAA appearance!

— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) March 12, 2017

FiveThirtyEight thinks even more highly of St. Mary’s. They have the Gaels winning this game 74 percent of the time, or roughly –7 for a kayfabe spread. There’s every chance St. Mary’s will shoot themselves in the foot with their reliance on the 3-pointer, but we’ll take that chance and give the Gaels our full support at these prices.

Free NCAAB Pick: St. Mary’s –4
Best Line Offered: at BetPhoenix

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