NCAA March Madness: Saint Mary's Gaels vs. VCU Rams betting preview, odds and predictions
In the 5 vs. 12 matchup in the West region of the 2023 NCAA tournament, the Saint Mary's Gaels face the VCU Rams with a spot in the Round of 32 on the line. All tournament long, VSiN will be providing you with March Madness betting odds, in-depth team analysis and expert college basketball picks. Make us your one-stop shop for all of your betting needs.
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How to watch Saint Mary's vs. VCU
When: Friday, 2:00 p.m. ET
Where: Albany, New York
Odds for Saint Mary's vs. VCU
Spread: Saint Mary's -3.5
(Odds accurate as of Sunday, March 12th at 11:00 p.m. ET)
Real-time betting splits at DraftKings Sportsbook
West Region No. 5 Seed Saint Mary's Gaels
Saint Mary’s is an elite defensive team this season, but the Gaels can also really shoot the three-ball. Aidan Mahaney and Alex Ducas are both legitimate snipers from deep, and they’ll make teams pay for any open looks they get. Logan Johnson is also a tremendous offensive player for this Saint Mary’s team, and his ability to get to the rim will be big over the next couple of weeks. However, the Gaels also have another massive advantage over opponents, and that’s the mind of head coach Randy Bennett. He’s arguably the most underrated coach in college basketball, as he continues to put out a tremendous product without having the resources of some of his peers. But this year’s team is more talented than usual, so the sky's the limit.
West Region No. 12 Seed VCU Rams
One of the common traits that most Cinderella teams have is elite defense, and this Rams team plays that end of the floor as well as anyone. VCU had a top-30 defense in the nation in opponents points per game heading into March Madness, and the Rams were top-20 when it came to adjusted defensive efficiency. For this squad, everything will come down to making shots. Only two players on this team average more than 10.0 points per game, and VCU doesn’t quite have a player it can rely on to go out and score 20. Adrian Baldwin Jr. is the best bet to do so, but he is a little inconsistent.
Saint Mary's vs. VCU matchup analysis
Two of the nation’s top and most consistent mid-majors are paired together as the Selection Committee again looks down on the little guy. These are two teams that high-major schools don’t want to face, so naturally, they have to face each other in the first round.
Why don’t teams want to face VCU? The Rams are perennially one of the best teams in the country at forcing turnovers. They play a difficult style of game to prepare for and do it well. Mike Rhoades has carried on the tradition from Shaka Smart, and VCU enters the Dance ranked sixth in TO% on defense at 24.1%. Turnovers breed high-percentage chances at the rim in transition, and VCU’s shot share on Close Twos is among the best in the nation, per Torvik.
Why don’t teams want to face Saint Mary’s? Because Randy Bennett is one of the top coaches in the country, and his teams are relentless on defense. The Gaels rank 356th per Torvik in adjusted tempo and 359th per Ken Pomeroy. Their games are tough, physical and frustrating. The Gaels are also one of the tournament’s better teams on the glass, ranking second in offensive rebounding percentage against and 45th in offensive rebounding percentage on offense.
Both teams defended 2-point shots well, as Saint Mary’s is 20th at 45.6% and VCU is 32nd at 46.2%. The national average is 50.1%, so these are two outstanding teams on the defensive end. Saint Mary’s shoots the 3 better than VCU which might be the difference in the game, especially if Bennett’s senior-laden roster protects the basketball.
If you’re looking for a reason to bet VCU, consider Saint Mary’s has a small substitution rotation. Their top-five players have played at least 76.1% of the available minutes, all the way up to Logan Johnson at 85.2% of the minutes. Five players average at least 30.8 minutes per game, and only one other player averages at least 10 minutes per contest. VCU makes you spend a lot of energy to break the press, and teams wear down as a result. The Rams are also ninth in FT Rate, so they generate a lot of fouls against the opposition, which could hurt the Gaels if they get into foul trouble.
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