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St. Louis

vs.

VCU

College Basketball

Pick

Analysis

3/1/14

On a busy weekend, this game may not get as much hype as others, but it could end up being one of the better ones. The implications are there for both teams. VCU has lost three of their last five games while Saint Louis is coming off a loss against Duquesne.

While the Rams have seven losses on the year, none of them have come at home where this one is at. They currently sit in the dreaded 8-9 seed range, but could easily move up if they can win out. The best chance for them to get a 6 or 7 seed would be to win this game.

The Billikens were flying high, winning 19 straight games and looked headed for a great NCAA tourney seeding. That all ended after a home loss to a 15-loss Duquesne team on Thursday. SLU had squeaked by in its previous few games, but they couldn't do the same against the Dukes. Now, they have to pick it up, with this game along with a road game at UMass to close out the season.

The first game between these teams was a slugfest with Saint Louis grabbing a 12-point lead with just under 10 minutes to go and VCU tying it up with just two minutes left. The Billikens prevailed on their home court though in a 64-62 win.

Like most VCU games, the big factor will be its 'Havoc' defense that forces teams into turnovers at a regular rate. In the first game, Saint Louis turned the ball over eight times in the first 10 minutes, but eventually got composed, and turned it over nine more times for rest the game. VCU didn't really have an answer for Dwayne Evans or Jordair Jett in that game, and that's not a huge surprise because not many teams do.

One thing the Rams can't do if they want to win is shoot 2-of-16 from three again. They are a good shooting team, but it wasn't falling for them at SLU. Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham can be beasts if given the right matchup, but Saint Louis has one of the best defenses in the conference.

The only scoring option off the bench for both of these teams is VCU's Melvin Johnson, who averages more than 10 per game. He finished with three points on 1-of-8 shooting in the first game. Johnson has hit 12 points in four of the last five games and could be a big factor with his shooting.

VCU can't let Rob Loe beat them from deep because they have the athletic big guys to get out and play defense on him. Loe finished with 14 points in that first game with two threes. If the Rams can figure out a way to contain Evans a bit, they will have the upper hand.

Due to the Billikens' struggles as of late and VCU's dominant play at home this year, the overall advantage has to go to the Rams. However, in the end, Saint Louis is a good enough team that they can stay competitive against anyone due to their defense. That's what will likely happen in this one.

Predicted Score - VCU 71 St Louis 62

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