College Basketball: Men’s Championship East Region
1st Round VCU vs. SMC
#10 Virginia Commonwealth Rams (26-8) at Saint Mary’s Gaels (28-4)
March 16, 2017- 7:20 PM ET (TV TBS) Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
With the First Four play-in all set, it’s now time to “go dancing” as March Madness will officially begin on Thursday spread across America. And with a full slate of games throughout the day, the NCAA Tournament is a sportsbooks dream. Getting it started for us will be a matchup between the No. 10 seed VCU Rams and No. 7 Saint Mary’s Gaels; a battle that will take place at Vivint Smart Home Arena with the betting lines from our best U.S. sportsbooks as follow;
Best Rams Lines: MyBookie Spread (+4.5) ML +170
Best Gaels Lines: BetOnline Spread (-4.5) ML -195
Over/Under: 5Dimes 129.5
With their first NCAA tourney appearance since 2013, Saint Mary’s will be anxious to take to the court and prove their worth after being snubbed last year due to a mainly weak RPI. This season, however, the Gaels have put together more quality wins to run their record to 28-4.
It’s no secret that when it comes to the success of the Gaels, it’s all about the defense where they are second best in the nation only to Virginia with just 56.5 points allowed.
Utilizing a stifling man-to-man defense, Saint Mary’s ranks second best in all of basketball with a plus-9.3 rebound margin per game.
Three of the Gaels’ defeats were to West region No. 1 Gonzaga and though efficient on offense, Saint Mary’s plays the second-slowest tempo of offense in the nation.
For VCU (26-8), they will be making their seventh consecutive tournament showing as they will be looking to recapture the magic of 2011; the year in which they carried the magic all the way to the Final Four. But since going from the First Four to the Final Four in that year, they have not advanced past the Round of 32.
Back on the big stage with a chance to make a name for themselves once again, the Rams will counter the defense of Saint Mary’s with an offense that is effective all around.
The winner of this first-round West Region clash will move on to face the winner of No. 2 Arizona versus No. 15 North Dakota.
Matchups are pretty even when teams are ranked this close and this one will be no different as our best sportsbook such as BetOnline has SMC (-4.5) points over VCU with an over/under of 129.5 total game points scored from 5Dimes.
The action will be fierce and exciting but putting my confidence in VCU, I will favor the Rams PLUS the points (+4.5) over Saint Mary’s for the win as my betting pick.