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St. Mary’s Faces VCU in Tough Opening Game of NCAA Tournament

The NCAA Tournament starts full field play on Thursday including the No. 10 seeded VCU Rams playing the No. 5 seeded St. Mary’s Gaels in a first round West Region showdown. The current line has St. Mary’s favored by 4.5 points with the over/under on 130.

Entering this game VCU has an overall record of 26-8 straight up and 12-17 against the spread. In their past 10 games played, the Rams are 7-3 SU and 4-5 ATS. St. Mary’s on the season is 28-4 SU and 16-11 ATS. In their past 10 games played, the Gaels are 8-2 SU and 6-3 ATS.

St. Mary’s lost just four games all season, with three coming against West Coast Conference rivals the Gonzaga Bulldogs. VCU is making its seventh consecutive trip to the tournament but lost on Sunday in the Atlantic 10 title game.

St. Mary’s is led by Jock Landale a junior center. The 6-foot-11 Australian averages 16.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Calvin Hermanson a forward is the only other Gaels player that averages in double figures at 12.9 points per game.

However, the defense for St. Mary’s allows just 56.5 points per game, which is second in the country and that takes the pressure off the offense to score large numbers of points.

VCU is also proud of its defense. The Rams force 14.6 turnovers per game and hold opponents to just 66.2 points per game.

The Rams scoring punch come from JeQuan Lewis who averages 14.7 points and 4.6 assists per game, and Justin Tillman who averages 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

St. Mary’s has two players averaging almost 6 assists per game and is considered one of the country’s top passing teams. The VCU defense will pressure the backcourt of St. Mary’s and how it handles the pressure will go a long way in determining who wins this game.

Mo Alie-Co a 6-foot-7 forward for VCU has a huge wingspan which will be needed to guard the likes of 6-foot-11 Landale.

VCU is 1-4 ATS in its past 5 games against non-conference opponents.

St. Mary’s is 5-1-1 ATS in its past 7 games played.

Prediction: St. Mary’s has superior size in this game and has a strong backcourt that does not commit turnovers. Lean here toward the Gaels to cover.

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