Yesterday I laid more points in a game than I had all season long, when I backed the South Dakota State Jackrabbits as fourteen-point home court favorites against Denver. The Pioneers had lost fifteen out of their previous sixteen games, and I expected the Jackrabbits to have little trouble dispatching them at home, where the led the nation in home floor winning percentage against the spread at 91% winners.
Similar to the first time these two teams played, Denver actually put up a fight in the first half before falling apart late and letting SD State pull away for the win. However, despite finishing the game on a big run, the Jackrabbits ended up only winning by twelve points, and we lost our bet. This was one of those games that we just needed another minute on the clock to find a cover.
A sweet win last night on Valentine's Day and Military Appreciation Night.
— JackrabbitBasketball (@GoJacksMBB) February 15, 2020
I very rarely lay double-digit points like this, and last night was a lesson as to why you have to be very careful laying so much wood. SD State had everything going for them and won the game going away, and still didn’t find a cover for us in the end. For today’s pick, we will get back to looking at more reasonable numbers, when we break down the game between Richmond and VCU.
- VCU Rams (17-7) at Richmond Spiders (18-6)
- 1:00 PM PST
- Robins Center, Richmond
- TV: CBSS
The Richmond Spiders are looking to play themselves onto the right side of the bubble today as they host the Rams of VCU. The Spiders are in third place in the A-10 right now, but Joe Lunardi has them in the next four out for the NCAA tournament. A win today over a solid VCU team would get them closer to punching their dance card into the madness. The Spiders have won three straight games, including back to back wins on the road, and need to stay hot today at home.
— Richmond Basketball (@SpiderMBB) February 15, 2020
For VCU, the Rams are also on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament, according to Lunardi, as they fall into the first four out category. A win on the road in league play against Richmond could get them into the field of sixty-eight. The Rams have lost two out of their last three games, including a painful home loss to George Mason in their last game and they can ill afford another slip up.
It feels like the VCU Rams should be better than they are right now. They have a solid record overall, and they have played some tough competition, but for the most part, they have lost to most of the good teams they have played. They did pick up big early-season wins over LSU and North Texas, but since then, VCU has really struggled against the top-100.
Losses to Purdue, Wichita State, Tennessee, Rhode Island (twice), and Dayton aren’t bad ones. But to get into the NCAA tournament, the committee wants to see that you can beat teams on that level, not just play them close. They did beat both Richmond and Dayton, at home, in the last month, and those are quality wins.
But away from home, against the top-100, VCU is 0-5. The Rams must find a way to win on the road in hostile territory if they want to prove to the selection committee that they deserve an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Looking forward on the schedule, they play at Richmond today, then at Saint Louis, and at Davidson. All three of those are top-100 teams, and in my estimation, they need to win at least two out of those three games to give themselves a real shot at an at-large bid, that starts today in Richmond.
The Spiders league record says they are the third-best team in the A-10, and if that is true, I think they deserve a spot in the NCAA tournament. This league is as good as it has been in years, and I see it as a three or four bid league. But in order to separate themselves from the rest of the middle of the pack of the A-10, they need to beat them.
They played at VCU a couple weeks ago on the road, and got blown out, and they have to find a way to avenge that loss today at home. When you look at the rest of the regular season for Richmond, they have very winnable games against George Mason, St Bonaventure, George Washington, and UMass still left to play. Before finishing with Davidson at home, and then the season finale at Duquesne. They probably have to win all of those games to get into the tournament, and I think that they will.
Who Do I Like?
I always error on the side of the home team in league play. And while the A-10 hasn’t been as home dominate this year as say, the Big 10, that is mostly because this league is very top and bottom heavy. The top four teams in the league are a combined 38-9 in league play. The bottom four teams are a combined 6-38. The middle of the league has mostly been dominated by the home teams.
And that is the case for both of these teams. The Rams have yet to break through with a quality win away from home. And Richmond has done a great job on their home court with a 10-2 home record. It is going to be a highly competitive game, but I think Richmond finds a way to win it.
This number opened up at Richmond -1.5 and has mostly stayed put. Some books have adjusted up to Richmond -2, but the consensus still remains at the opening line. And normally I wouldn’t be overly concerned about a half of a point, but in a game like this one, that half of a point could matter, so you might have to line shop a bit to get the sharper number, it is worth your time for sure.
Give me the hometown Spiders today in what should be a thriller, laying a point and a half, as they win their fourth straight game!