VCU vs. Saint Louis Pick
The Barclays Center will host its first ever Atlantic 10 Tournament Final on Sunday. The Saint Louis Billikens will square off with the VCU Rams with an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament on the line.
Turnovers are always the key for the Rams. They forced 22 turnovers against the Massachusetts Minutemen in the Atlantic 10 Semifinals on Saturday, and they are the clearly playing some of their best defense of the season. The team is now averaging right around a dozen steals per game this year. Head Coach Shaka Smart runs his men in and out of the lineup, using seven players for at least 17 minutes per game and another five players for a minute or two every game. G Treveon Graham is the team’s leading scorer at 15.4 points per game, and F Juvonte Reddic is only just behind him at 14.4 points per game. G Darius Theus is one of the most dominating point guards in the A-10. He is averaging 7.2 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.5 steals per game, and he is the catalyst for this offense for most of the game.
The Billikens have gone on a remarkable run in the Atlantic 10 season, winning 14 out of 15 games since losing at home to the Rhode Island Rams back on January 19th. In that stretch, there were three wins against the Butler Bulldogs, including here in the Atlantic 10 Tournament Semifinals. The defense has been fantastic for Saint Louis. The team has allowed 56 and 55 points in the two games played here in Brooklyn, and that marked the fifth game in the last six in which the squad has allowed 58 points or fewer. The offense isn’t out of this world this year, but there is no shame in averaging 68.9 points per game. F Dwayne Evans had a big time game in the semis against Butler on Saturday, scoring 24 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. He is absolutely the tournament MVP right now, knowing that he also put up 25 points and nine boards against the Charlotte 49ers in the opening round as well. Over the course of the last six games, Evans has averaged 20.7 points and 11.7 rebounds per game.
The Billikens have really played great basketball over the course of the last two months or so, but we think that they are in for it against the Rams. Saint Louis won the first meeting of these two teams this year with room to spare, but that was a game in which HAVOC only forced eight turnovers. That’s obviously not going to cut it. If VCU gets locked in with its full-court press, this could be an upset waiting to happen. VCU 73 – Saint Louis 67