VCU Rams at Saint Louis Billikens NCAAM Pick- February 21, 2020

I have followed a pretty simple formula this season. Bet on Big 10 home teams, and cash tickets. I followed that recipe for success last night when I backed the Iowa Hawkeyes as -2.5-point home court favorites against the Ohio State Buckeyes. I felt that Iowa just might be the best home team in the nation this year. And throw in the fact that Ohio State had gotten blown out by double-digits in each of their five Big 10 road losses, laying a little wood didn’t scare me at all.

We nailed this one. To quote yesterday’s article:

“I think Iowa wins this game, and while I would be shocked if it wasn’t at least somewhat competitive, I don’t think we are going to sweat this number all that much. I see Iowa pulling away in the second half, behind a big game from Luka Garza, and winning this one by eight or nine points.”

Iowa indeed won by nine points, and we didn’t have to sweat out the number at all, as the Hawkeyes led by double-digits essentially the entire game. And Luka Garza? He got way the best of his matchup with fellow All-American candidate Kaleb Wesson, as he finished his day with 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, compared to just 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 costly turnovers for Wesson.

With the win, the Hawkeyes add another top-50 team to their hit list as they continue to run up one of the most impressive resumes in the nation. While Iowa likely won’t catch Maryland for the Big 10 regular-season title, the Hawkeyes do still have a very real shot at a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament.

We already talked about how big their pile of quality wins is getting, and they still have games left on the regular-season schedule against Michigan State, Penn State, and Illinois. Between those games and the Big 10 conference tournament, the Hawkeyes will have ample opportunity to add even more signature wins to their resume before Selection Sunday.

For Ohio State, their road issues continued as they are now just 2-6 on the road in league play, with one of those wins coming to an awful Northwestern team. But luckily for Buckeyes fans, Ohio State plays three of their next four games at home, and their one road trip is to a Nebraska team that is just 2-13 in Big 10 play. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the A-10, where VCU plays Saint Louis.

Today’s Game

  • VCU Rams (17-9) at Saint Louis Billikens (18-8)
  • Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis
  • 6:00 PM PST
  • TV: ESPN 2

The Saint Louis Billikens will look to protect their home floor tonight as they host the suddenly struggling Rams of VCU. The Billikens have had their fair share of struggles on the road this season, but at home, they are a very impressive 12-3. The SOS has been on the light side for Saint Louis, and they will get the opportunity to pick up one of their biggest wins of the season tonight against VCU.

For VCU, the Rams have lost four out of their last five games and have gone from A-10 championship hopefuls, to barely even on the bubble in just a matter of a couple of weeks. While the Rams have played a tougher schedule than Saint Louis, they have lost to most of those elite teams. Away from home against the top-100 this season, the Rams are a dismal 0-6. They must find a way to breakthrough tonight if they want any shot of hearing their names called on Selection Sunday.

Spread:

  • VCU -2 (-110)
  • Saint Louis +2 (-110)
Money line:

  • VCU -135
  • Saint Louis +115
Total Points:

  • Over 133 (-110)
  • Under 133 (-110)

Saint Louis Billikens

I am not going to try and sit here and tell you that this Saint Louis Billikens team is elite. They aren’t. But at home, they have done a great job of being more than respectful. Their three home losses were all to good teams, and two of those games almost went the other way. They lost to Dayton, a team that is in real contention for a one seed, in overtime. And they lost to Seton Hall, the likely champions of the Big East, in a competitive game as well.

And when you look at their complete resume, they only have one bad loss, and that came to UMASS in their last game on the road. All of their seven other losses came to top-100 teams, and four of them came to teams that are considered threats to make a run to the Final Four, in Dayton (twice), Seton Hall, and Auburn.

VCU Rams

What happened to the VCU Rams? A late-season collapse has turned VCU into a team desperate for wins. The Rams have lost four out of their last five games and six out of their last eleven and are currently projected to miss the field of sixty-eight. It has been shocking to see this team that had early-season wins over LSU and North Texas fall completely apart.

The Rams signature defense has been the key to their recent struggle. They have given up an average of over seventy-five points a game in their recent four losses, which is far higher than their season average that saw them hold eighteen of their first twenty-one opponents under seventy points.

Who Do I Like?

The question in this game is, will the Rams show up or not? If VCU plays their best game, they win this game, and likely, fairly easily. But this team looks like it might have given up on head coach Mike Rhoads. When you are a team that wins most of your games by scoring at a high level, sometimes the shots just stop dropping, and you go cold and lose some games.

That hasn’t been the case for VCU. They have just stopped giving a full effort on defense, and that has caused the recent skid. A great defense never takes a night off, and right now, that can’t be said about this VCU team.

The Bet

I am going to look to straight fade VCU in this one. I don’t think the Billikens are the better team, and I don’t think that their home-court advantage, while a solid one, is enough to beat VCU, if the Rams play their best game. But I think that Mike Rhoads has lost the locker room at this point, and I just can’t trust this VCU team against anybody decent, particularly on the road.

The only road wins the Rams have this season came against teams outside of the top-150 in the nation. Against the top-100, they are 0-6. And while I don’t think this Saint Louis team is on the same level as some of those teams the Rams lost to, I also think they are quite a bit better than La Salle, George Mason, Saint Joseph’s, and Charleston, the only teams VCU has beaten on the road this season.

So, I will make a play that I love to make, and that is backing a home underdog in league play. And as is almost always the case, for some reason, the public just loves to be on the wrong side of the action, and instead of getting just the one point I should have gotten at the opening line, I get a full extra point now. Thanks, general betting public for always being there to open up even more value for me! Give me the Saint Louis Billikens tonight as two-point home underdogs!

The Bet: Saint Louis Billikens +2

My Pick
Saint Louis Billikens +2
Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL