Our latest preview takes us to the capital of Virginia for a crosstown rivalry and one of the more competitive games on Wednesday’s slate. The University of Richmond Spiders will make the short 15-minute drive across the city to the Stuart C. Siegel Center to take on the VCU Rams today (7pm ET Wednesday; TV: Live on CBS Sports Network).
How will this clash of the neighbors work out? Read our Spiders vs VCU predictions and picks in this preview.
These are two of the stronger schools in the Atlantic 10 conference, but they have vastly different records due to COVID layoffs. VCU sits atop the league with an 8-2 conference record and an impressive 15-4 record overall while Richmond sit at 4-2 and 11-4 overall. The Spiders had to postpone five straight games before returning last Sunday and dismantling St. Mary’s (MD) 90-49. They appeared not to miss a beat and will look to duplicate that performance tonight against the cross-city Rams.
VCU is coming off a nail biter in which they beat St. Bonaventure 67-64 last Friday. This is a critical matchup for not only conference standings, but also March Madness tournament implications and bragging rights. The Spiders opened as slight road underdogs despite being the better team in my opinion. This is also not a true road game being that they both reside in the same city.
On paper Richmond is better in several key offensive categories. The Spiders shoot the ball better and are tied for 21st overall in the NCAA in field goal percentage (48.9%). They are more successful from behind the arc as well. The Spiders shoot 36.3% from three (T69th in the league) while the Rams shoot 34.3% (T143rd). One of the biggest discrepancies comes in the turnover department. The Rams turn the ball over 15 times per game on average, which is tied for 278th worst in college basketball. The Spiders on the other hand do well at holding onto the ball, which allows for more offensive possessions than their counterparts. Richmond turns it over 10.7 times per game, which is 15th best in college basketball. Turnovers often lead to fast breaks and points for your opponent. I think this is one of the more important factors for this matchup. If VCU is unable to manage their turnovers they will lose this game. You do not want to give this Spiders’ offense extra possessions and opportunities.
The Spiders are also no slouch on defense and could exploit the turnover-happy VCU offense. Richmond averages 9.0 steals per game, which is good for 13th best in the NCAA. This could be the most pivotal mismatch in the game. A few other things to look at when betting underdogs in college basketball is how well they shoot from the field, how often they turn the ball over and how well they shoot from the free throw line. The Spiders are better in two of the three categories and are right there when it comes to free throw percentage. They shoot 73.2% and the Rams shoot 75.7% from the stripe.
Richmond is led by senior guard Blake Francis and is anchored by senior forward Grant Bolden inside. Francis leads the team with 16.6 points per game and Bolden is second with 13.6 points per game. Bolden has the size advantage over all of the VCU forwards and should have another strong showing. Last year in two games against the Rams he averaged 19.5 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Our Betting Preview’s Richmond Spiders vs VCU Rams Predictions and Picks
I am going to be playing the Richmond Spiders as slight road dogs. I saw this open at +2 and +2.5 points with most of the offshore betting outlets. I am going to be grabbing the points and will also likely play the moneyline for the plus money. I think the Spiders are the not only the better team but also the hungrier and that they will win this game outright.
They are looking to get another win in the conference after having numerous games postponed. I think the biggest mismatch is VCU’s turnovers. They are entirely too careless with the ball. This is their Achilles heel and will likely be their downfall today. I expect the Spiders to turn them over several times and get the extra offensive possessions that will allow them to win a close and hard fought game. So th predictions for this preview are: