Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#807 VCU -5 vs.
#808 UMass 138
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 at 7:00pm EST
Written by Nick Raffoul

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The VCU Rams will try to finish the season strong on Wednesday night when they travel to the Mullins Center in Amherst, Massachusetts for an Atlantic 10 Conference battle versus the Massachusetts Minutemen.

After starting the A10 season 7-3, the Rams have dropped four in a row to enter in eighth place in the league standings with a .500-record. Meanwhile, Massachusetts comes in with a 6-8 mark after winning five of its last eight conference games. Can the Minutemen keep their momentum going against the Rams at home on Wednesday night?

VCU drops fourth consecutive A10 contest vs. Saint Louis

VCU was unable to stop its current slide, losing on the road to Saint Louis 80-62 on Friday night to push its losing streak to four games. Marcus Santos-Silva scored a team-high 11 points while De’Riante Jenkins added 10 for the Rams, who shot just 7-for-28 from 3-point range and 15-for-26 from the free throw line in the loss.

Mike Rhoades has guided the Rams to a 17-10 overall record, including 7-7 mark in A10 play but the Rams find themselves on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble after dropping four straight. ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi doesn’t even have the Rams listed in his latest NCAA Tournament projections, so they will need to close the season strong to get back in the conversation for an at-large bid.

The Rams enter Wednesday’s matchup ranked No. 63 in the latest KenPom rankings after scoring 104.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (130th in the NCAA) and 100.3 points per 100 possessions during conference play (8th in the A10). VCU has turned the ball over just 17.2 percent of the time during league play (5th in the A10) while sporting an offensive rebounding rate of 28.1 percent (6th in the A10). However, the Rams have shot just 48.0 percent from inside the arc (9th in the A10), 32.2 percent from deep (10th in the A10), and 68.3 percent from the free throw line as a team (11th in the A10) through 14 A10 contests.

On defense, the Rams have surrendered only 92.9 points per 100 possessions for the year (37th in the NCAA) but that number has increased to 97.1 points per 100 possessions versus A10 opponents (4th in the A10). VCU relies on forcing turnovers to generate stops and it has remained stingy from inside the arc during conference play. The Rams have forced A10 teams to turn the ball over 22.7 percent of the time (1st in the A10) while holding them to just 47.5 percent shooting from 2-point range (3rd in the A10).

UMass escapes with win on the road vs. Fordham

Massachusetts topped Fordham 57-49 on the road on Saturday night. Tre Mitchell finished with a team-high 15 points and 19 rebounds for the Minutemen while Samba Diallo added 14 points and eight boards in the win.

Matt McCall’s squad enters the weekend slotted at No. 186 in the latest KenPom rankings after turning their conference season around over the past month. Massachusetts has scored 101.3 points per 100 possessions for the season (187th in the NCAA) and 95.2 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (11th in the A10). The Minutemen have shot a league-low 28.5 percent from beyond the arc (14th in the A10) and turned the ball over on 19.5 percent of their offensive possessions during league play (11th in the A10). They also rank near the bottom of the conference in offensive rebounding rate (10th in the A10) and free throw rate (12th in the A10) through 14 games.

On defense, UMass has allowed 102.5 points per 100 possessions for the season (191st in the NCAA) and 103.5 points per 100 possessions versus league opponents (12th in the A10). Opposing teams have shot 52.0 percent from 2-point range (13th in the A10) and 34.8 percent from beyond the arc (13th in the A10) versus the Minutemen defense during conference play.

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UMass has struggled to take care of the basketball during conference play and that could become an issue for them in this game. The Rams force turnovers better than any other team in the A10 conference and the Rams rank third in 2-point defense, which is where the Minutemen tend to do most of their damage on offense. VCU needs to close out the regular season strong to get back on the NCAA Tournament bubble. While that’s unlikely at this point, I do expect the Rams to bounce back and snap their slide here. Take VCU to cover the spread on the road in this A10 battle on Wednesday night.

Prediction: VCU Rams

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VCU like to push the pace on offense. The Rams rank 95th in the country in adjusted tempo and 30th in average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, the Minutemen rank fifth in adjusted tempo and they’ve offered very little resistance on the defensive end of the floor. Opponents have been able to get their shots up in an average of only 16.8 seconds during conference play, which ranks as the fastest rate in the A10. VCU’s ability to generate turnovers and turn defense into offense should also help push the total higher in this one. Look for this game to go over the projected total on Wednesday night.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Nick Raffoul

Shortly after graduating with an Honors in Business Administration, Nick turned his attention from traditional stocks and bonds to investing in the performance of sports teams. And has now joined our team here at Winners & Whiners. Nick uses a combination of advanced stats and historical data to create sports investment models to identify value and generate consistent profits. Let Nick win for you.