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VCU vs Saint Mary’s Picks & Odds – Rams 4.5-Point Underdog to Gaels

Chris Wassel

by Chris Wassel in College Basketball

Updated Mar 16, 2023 · 12:00 PM PDT

Saint Mary's Gaels guard Logan Johnson shoots over a defender
March 7, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Saint Mary's Gaels guard Logan Johnson (0) shoots the basketball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the second half in the finals of the WCC Basketball Championships at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
  • Saint Mary’s are 4.5-point favorites over the VCU Rams in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17
  • The #5 Gaels face the #12 Rams to see who advances to the second round
  • Below, see the VCU vs Saint Mary’s odds and picks for Friday afternoon

So, this NCAA Tournament first-round game between the fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s Gaels (26-7, 19-13 ATS) and twelfth-seeded VCU Rams (27-7, 18-15-1 ATS) appears to be close. This game comes from the West Region. A potential date with Connecticut would likely be next for the winner.

Oddsmakers zeroed in on the Gaels early and have seen the numbers inch up from 3.5 to 4.5 points, depending on the site.

VCU vs Saint Mary’s Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
VCU +4.5 (-110) +158 O 123 (-110)
Saint Mary’s -4.5 (-110) -190 U 123 (-110)

Saint Mary’s did not drop more as some expected when it came to the March Madness bracket. The Rams are down a ways in the March Madness odds, but the Gaels stand at +4050.

Tip-off for this contest is set for 2:00 pm ET on Friday March 17 at the MVP Arena from Albany, New York. The game is will be on TBS. Saint Mary’s currently is a -190 favorite to advance past VCU.



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VCU vs Saint Mary’s Betting Trends

Saint Mary’s got hammered by Gonzaga in their conference tournament. Two of their worst losses of the season came at the hands of the Bulldogs. Now, this was an Aggies team that won 14 games in the WCC Conference, but lost to the 2-seed in their conference tournament. Can they turn things around?  The Gaels went 16-3 over their final 19 contests yet again lost two of their last three. VCU comes in on fire winning their last nine games.

Now, the total of 123 points, the over/under is set seemingly low. However, it has not shifted much. Considering it opened around 122, moved to 123.5 and inched down a hair. Both teams slow things down and only allow around 60 points a game. VCU allowed less than 60 points in two of their last three contests. Meanwhile, St. Mary’s did allow 75+ points several times.  Overall, when it comes to defensive rating, VCU ranks 7th and Saint Mary’s comes in 17th. Pace dictates low scoring.

This Is Not Your Shaka Smart’s VCU

VCU is many things but one of them is that they are not quite like the Shaka Smart VCU teams people or bettors are used to. The Rams get after teams defensively, but can be painfully slow on offense. For example, their A-10 Conference Final game against Dayton saw them on pace for fewer than 50 points. Then, VCU shot 5-for-9 from three-point-range in the second half to win 68-56.

VCU turns the ball over a good deal (17th worst in the NCAA) unlike the 2011 version who got to the National Semifinal. Often, they live and die by their pace (53.5 attempts per game is slow).  Saint Mary’s allows just 51.7 shots per contest, so points and uncontested looks will be at a premium. Can Ace Baldwin and the guards get hot against the Gaels from the perimeter? Then, they can allow Brandon Johns and Jalen Deloach time to work inside.

Saint Mary’s, the Defense, and Preventing Rebounds

Saint Mary’s has no one contenders in the Wooden Award odds, but this Gaels team is great at preventing opponents from grabbing rebounds. For the most part, they keep pace down and allow under 28 rebounds a game (second in the nation). Saint Mary’s generates 10.7 offensive rebounds per game and likes to throw its weight around offensively in half-court sets.

Bluntly, Saint Mary’s feels they can get to the Sweet 16. While that is very possible, Mike Rhoades and his VCU team bring intensity that the Gaels have had trouble with at times. Randy Bennett had time to prepare for this game and that should benefit Saint Mary’s.  If Mitchell Saxen and Kyle Bower control the glass, that will allow the guards an easier time at some shots. Logan Johnson and Aidan Mahaney can make teams pay for collapsing into the paint.

VCU vs Saint Mary’s Prediction

VCU and Saint Mary’s figures to go down to the final possessions. Saint Mary’s could feel the heat a bit here and that is why they will be tested. Is this Rams’ team as good as previous versions? No. However, the Gaels are in for a physical ride against a team that expects not to go down easily.

Pick: VCU +4.5 (-110)


Other March Madness first-round predictions:

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