Free Picks: Oregon Ducks vs VCU Rams

Free Picks: Oregon Ducks vs VCU Rams
Oregon Ducks vs VCU Rams, NCAA, Indiana Farmers Coliseum

The No. 7 Oregon Ducks (20-6, 15-5 Pac 12) fell in the semifinals of the Pac 12 tournament, suffering their first loss in almost four weeks. They’ll hope to get right back to their winning ways in Saturday’s opening round matchup against the No. 10 VCU Rams (19-7, 12-5 A-10), who fell in the Atlantic 10 final on “Selection Sunday” but made their way into the tournament anyway.

Oregon’s dynamic offense meets its match with VCU’s rugged defense

By several measures, the Oregon Ducks have one of the best offenses in NCAA Division I. Likewise, the VCU Rams can count themselves among the country’s elite on the defensive side of the ball.

Oregon is 15th in D-I in adjusted offensive efficiency, while VCU is 10th in D-I in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Ducks might shoot 37.9% from 3-pt. range (19th in D-I), but the Rams allow only a 30.5% rate from deep (30th). There are matchups within matchups to pay attention to here.

And that’s what makes this 7-vs.-10 matchup a compelling one, with Oregon sitting as five-point favorites (-111 at Betway) on the latest NCAA basketball odds. Value seekers might also be interested in VCU’s juicy odds as a money line pick (+180 at Betway). We’ll explore the merits of both bets in our BetPicks prediction to follow.

Let’s investigate the spread first. The Ducks have been favorites a lot this season, including each of their past seven games (they’re 5-2 against the spread in that span). On another note, the over has hit in all seven of those games. Oregon lost its most recent game, 75-64 vs. Oregon State, but before that the Ducks had won five in a row by eight or more points.

VCU hasn’t been great in limited underdog situations of late (1-2 as an underdog since Feb. 23), but they tend to bounce back after a defeat. The Rams, who lost 74-65 to St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 final, are 5-1 against the spread in their past six games following a straight up loss.

As great as Oregon’s offense is, we’ve seen what happens when it falls silent. In last week’s loss to Oregon State, the Ducks shot an abysmal 6-of-25 (24%) from deep. They were also minus-14 on rebounds, which doesn’t help. Then again, when the deep shooting goes right for the Ducks — as it has so often this season — the results can be glorious. Oregon shot 43.3% from 3-pt. range during its six-game win streak from Feb. 25-March 11, shooting below 40% just once in that span.

We like the Ducks to find their shooting touch again and cover this five-point spread against the Rams — hitting the over in the process.

Stats

  • Oregon is 6-4 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The OVER has cashed in seven of the Ducks’ past seven games
  • VCU is 5-5 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in six of the Rams’ past 10 games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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