Rhode Island Rams (23-5) at Davidson Wildcats (17-11)
What a day yesterday was for college hoops! You had some big upsets, Georgia Tech beating N.C. State, Wisconsin beating Maryland, and Washington State beating Oregon. And, you had a couple of thrilling almost upsets when Michigan barely survived against Iowa, Wichita State snuck out of UCF with a win, and somehow the Virginia Cavaliers came back from four points down with less than a second left on the clock to beat Louisville.
If you had any doubt that the madness was in full swing, those doubts were erased yesterday! There are several more big games on the schedule today, and I expect the action to stay heavy as teams play for their basketball lives in the season’s final days.
Today I will take a look at the matchup between the Rhode Island Rams and the Davidson Wildcats.
The Rhode Island Rams will travel to North Carolina to face the Wildcats of Davidson in an A-10 matchup Friday night. The Rams will look to shake off a historically bad loss at home in their last game, losing by thirty points to a bad St. Joseph’s team.
For Davidson, they must run the table in the A-10 tournament this year if they want to play in the NCAA tournament. While the Wildcats have a solid record in A-10 play this season at 12-5, they don’t have the resume for an at-large bid this year. This game is an even pick ‘em. The game total over-under is set at 144 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from Belk Arena.
The Rhode Island Rams were riding high through conference play this year. At one point they enjoyed the nation’s longest winning streak at sixteen games. There was talk of Rhode Island busting through as a top three seed in the NCAA tournament.
Then the Rams lost a tough game against a St. Bonnies team that was squarely on the bubble and playing for its season at home. That loss was understandable, the Bonnies have a legit squad this season and it was a must win for them and they knew it.
The Rams then locked up the A-10 regular season title a week later when they beat Dayton. Next up for the Rams was senior night in Rhode Island for this senior-led team and they had a soft matchup against a below .500 St. Joe’s squad. All signs pointed to the Rams blowing the Hawks out and sending their seniors out winners.
Except that didn’t happen. Rhode Island got blown out by thirty points at home. It was the second biggest loss ever by a home team ranked in the AP Poll Top 25.
The Rams shot the ball as badly as any team I have watched all season. They shot just 27% from the field and just 10% from beyond the arc. They were taking and missing bad shots all afternoon long. It will be very interesting to see how they react today after that embarrassing performance at home. Will they come out fired up? Or is this a sign that maybe they were never quite as good as we thought they were in the first place? We will find out tonight as they play a very motivated Davidson team.
Davidson is a solid A-10 team this year. But the A-10 just isn’t a strong enough league to get three teams into the tournament. The Rams are locks and St. Bonaventure should get in, assuming they don’t slip up down the stretch. That leaves Davidson as the odd man out as the third best team in the league.
Davidson has no real shot at an at-large bid this year, even if they win this game. For the Wildcats they will need to win the A-10 conference tournament and get the auto-bid that comes with it if they want to be dancing in March.
This line opened at Davidson -2 points. Home teams get a lot of love in league play and the Rams looked terrible in their last game, so it was somewhat understandable that they opened as favorites. But the sharps realized that overreacting to one bad game is not the way to bet and they quickly jumped on the Rams on the road. So much so, that they have pushed this line to even. I have even seen some Rhode Island -1 lines floating around.
It is extremely rare for a road team to open as dogs in league play and close out as favorites, but that looks like what is going to happen here. The sharp bettors in the know, realize that one bad game does not make a season and that the Rams are likely to come out as motivated as they have all year after getting embarrassed on their home court.
Look, there is just no way that the Rams are going to shoot as bad as they did in their last game. They clearly over-looked St. Joe’s and they paid dearly for it. I expect the Wildcats to feel the wrath of a very talented Rams team tonight at home.
I expect this game to be competitive. But the Rams as underdogs is a joke. They are the much better team. Had they cruised past St. Joe’s in their last game this might have been a spot where they were going to over-look Davidson in a game that really doesn’t mean much.
But the fact that their egos are clearly bruised heading into this one makes me think there is no way that happens now. If you like Rhode Island in this one, and you should, get on it now. This line moved quickly, and I expect it to keep moving towards the Rams. Give me the Rhode Island Rams at an even pick ‘em tonight!