For our Top Plays of the Day, check out today’s Fab Five:
VCU at Fordham
When and Where: Saturday, Jan. 5, Rose Hill Gym, Bronx, N.Y., 2 p.m. EST.
Having perhaps righted itself ahead of the start of Atlantic 10 Conference play, VCU seeks a third consecutive overall win Saturday as it takes on Fordham in New York.
Rams may have turned corner with back-to-back wins
VCU (9-4) will have an interesting non-conference resume for the NCAA Tournament selection committee to mull over, winning at Texas against former coach Shaka Smart and recording victories over Temple and Wichita State.
Three of its four losses were by single digits, including an eight-point loss to unbeaten and current No. 4 Virginia and a one-point defeat to one-loss St. John’s. VCU is coming off its best perimeter effort of the season, drilling 14 3-pointers in a 90-79 victory over Rider last Sunday.
— VCU Basketball (@VCU_Hoops) December 30, 2018
Mike’L Simms scored 15 points off the bench while fellow reserve Malik Crawfield added all 12 of his from 3-point range as four players had at least two treys for a team still making only 29 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.
“I just think it was one of those things, shooting-wise, I think it was bound to happen,” guard Marcus Evans told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We have a lot of good shooters on the team, so we were bound to have a game where shots were falling.
“But I think things just coming together. The more we play, the more we gel. We’re starting to get a feel for the system and guys are getting comfortable.”
Evans is averaging a team-high 13.2 points and one of three players in double figures for VCU, which still makes its name on a frenetic defense that forces 17.1 turnovers per game. That is part of a strong overall defense holding opponents to 37.9 percent overall and 26.5 percent from 3-point range, with the latter ranking fifth in the nation.
VCU has won seven of eight games against Fordham since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2012-13, with all seven victories coming by double digits and the lone defeat a two-point loss at Fordham on the road in 2017.
Fordham looking to build on solid non-conference start
Fordham (9-4) has already matched its win total from last season as it bids for its first winning season since going 17-14 in 2015-16. Jeff Neubauer’s team played a home-heavy schedule in non-conference play, going 8-2 at Rose Hill ahead of its Atlantic 10 slate.
— Fordham Basketball (@FordhamMBB) December 31, 2018
Neubauer’s team wrapped up non-conference play on a down note, losing 60-57 at home to Long Island on Sunday. Antwon Portley scored 18 points, but only two in the first half. Fordham shot a season-low 32.8 percent, totaled just 10 points in the final 15 minutes, and scored only 12 points off 18 Blackbirds turnovers.
Freshman Nick Honor, who ranks eighth in Division I among all freshmen at 17.0 points per game, has scored in double figures in all 13 games for Fordham and is second on the team with 28 3-pointers.
Fordham has also proven adept at forcing turnovers with 15.7 per game and is holding opponents to 62.7 points per game and 28.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
- 3-12 ATS in its last 15 games as a home underdog.
- 1-6 ATS in its last seven games as a home underdog between 0.5-6.5 points.
- 4-16-2 ATS in its last 22 games as an underdog between 0.5-6.5 points.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four home games.
- The under is 19-7-1 in its last 27 home games vs. teams with a sub-.500 road record.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four games.
- 5-2 ATS in its last seven games as a road favorite.
- 5-1-1 ATS in its last seven games vs. above-.600 teams.
- 14-4 ATS in its last 18 games as a road favorite between 0.5-6.5 points.
- The under is 10-3 in its lat 13 games.
- The under is 4-0 in its last four games following an ATS loss.
- The under is 9-2 in its last 11 games vs. above-.600 teams.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s one thing to be a young team and fare well against non-conference play against your peers, and Neubauer did a very good job crafting that schedule. However, it is a whole different story stepping into conference play against a team like VCU that will get in Fordham’s face from the jump.
Mike Rhoades’ team is a streaky-shooting one — don’t expect another 14 3-pointers — but VCU’s defense has long been its calling card in this one-sided rivalry since joining the A-10. While Fordham could be better come February and March, a first conference game against VCU is a bad matchup.
Again, this is one where hopefully you got in early since the line spiked 1.5 points higher with VCU now giving 7.5 points.
Prediction: Pick: VCU -6
Full-Game Total Pick
This could be a first to 60 wins game as both teams are standout perimeter defensive units. Fordham has shown itself capable of not turning the ball over, but it is still going to be a challenge to continue that versus VCU and its active defense. VCU may get some separation but both teams will struggle offensively in this one. This line has climbed three points higher, and given how both teams defend, there is more confidence in the under hitting.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 126.5 points
Half-Time Side Pick
This is another pick with VCU being an entirely different caliber of opponent than Fordham has faced all season. The expectation is it will continue dominating this series.
Prediction: Pick: VCU -4
Half-Time Total Bet
While VCU plays its “Havoc” defense, it does not always produce tons of points since it is not the most offensively efficient team. With Fordham also being one of the slowest teams in Division I in terms of pace, the under is the play, even with a sub-60 number here.
Prediction: Pick: UNDER 58.5 points