Shaka Smart and the Rams got past their first hurdle and now play Big Ten powerhouse Indiana in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Who should bettors count on to pull through for them in round two?
Well, I got one out of two of my NCAA Basketball picks right in the first-round games
involving these two teams. Lets look at this matchup and try to decide if the sportsbooks have left any doors open for us.
Against my better judgment, I went with Wichita State to
cover against VCU, but the Rams' defense was too good, their full-court press
and half-court D giving the Shockers tons of problems. As a team Wichita State
shot only 38.7 percent from the floor.
VCU however rose to the occasion on the Rose Garden court.
Bradford Burgess posted a team-high 16 points and chipped in five rebounds,
four assists and two steals, while Darius Theus and Troy Daniels both scored 10
points in the victory.
Can VCU make another sensational run?
The Rams now play the Hoosiers and are five-point underdogs
in the early NCAA basketball odds.
Indiana was my correct pick. Their offense came through as I
expected and dropped 79 on New Mexico State. The Hoosiers shot a ridiculous
59.3 percent from the field and made 6-of-13 threes.
The five starters each played at least 30 minutes and four
of them reached double figures. Jordan Hulls had a team-high 22 points and
Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Will Sheehey all had 14 apiece.
This Saturday's game will be a much tougher test for the
Hoosiers as they come up against one of the better defenses around. VCU loves
to press and force teams into trap situations.
However, I'm fairly confident the Hoosiers can handle it.
They play in the Big Ten for crying out loud. They've matched up with Wisconsin
(52.8 PPG allowed), Ohio State (59.1) and Michigan State (59.1) among others
and did just fine. Indiana beat both the Buckeyes and Spartans, and also topped
Kentucky (59.2) and Michigan (61.4) during the regular season.
If that isn't proof enough that the Hoosiers can handle a
little defensive pressure, I don't know what is.
You may think because I'm going against VCU yet again that
I'm a hater, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. I'm a big fan of
Shaka Smart and I love the intensity that he instills in his teams.
Hoosiers ready for the test
That said, the Hoosiers are a much more efficient offensive
team than the Shockers and should be able to have more luck putting points on
If the Hoosiers get past that press, they'll be plenty of
space for open looks and Hulls and Watford have been shooting the ball very
well. This season Hulls has hit 50 percent of his threes.
Indiana has also been a profitable team to back in terms of
spread betting, covering in five of their last six matchups ahead of Saturday.
The Hoosiers' best win of the bunch was a 70-55 victory on February 28th over
the Spartans, who have a number one seed in this very tournament.
Tom Crean's crew is extremely battle-tested and have seen
what the best teams in the nation have to offer. I don't think the Hoosiers
will be intimidated by the spotlight and therefore they're my free NCAA basketball
pick in this South region second-round battle.
FREE Pick: Indiana Hoosiers -5
Rams are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall
Rams are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games
Hoosiers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
Hoosiers are 8-0 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games
UNDER is 6-2 in Indiana's
last 8 games overall