College Basketball NIT Odds & Picks for VCU vs. Princeton: Tigers Love Road Games
Rachel O’Driscoll/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Langborg.
- Princeton travels to VCU to take on the Rams in a first-round NIT matchup.
- The Rams are a strong defensive team, but the Tigers have had success on the road and ATS all season.
- Our staff breaks down this matchup and offers up a best bet.
VCU vs. Princeton Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
VCU and Princeton — two teams that needed to win their respective conference tournaments — came up short in the quest to make the NCAA Tournament.
The NIT was quick to scoop VCU as a No. 3 seed home team to open the tournament after the Rams finished 56th in the NET.
Head coach Mike Rhoades won 11-of-12 before losing the regular-season finale. The bubble burst after a quarterfinal loss to eventual Atlantic 10 Tournament champion Richmond.
Princeton took a different route, finishing the season as the regular-season conference champion with a 12-2 record in the Ivy League.
A loss to Yale in the tournament championship ended its automatic bid chances and sent the Tigers to the NIT.
Like the Rams, Princeton also had a hot streak from Dec. 4 to March 12, losing just two games.
By Alex Hinton
VCU swept rival Richmond in the regular season, but unfortunately for the Rams, the Spiders won the most important matchup.
VCU lost to Richmond, 75-64, in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament to miss out on an auto-bid to the Big Dance. The Spiders then went on to beat Dayton and Davidson to claim the automatic bid to the Big Dance.
VCU earned a 3-seed in the NIT, and it will not have much time to sulk before matching up with a tough Princeton team.
VCU will bring its toughness and defense, a unit that is one of the best in the country. It ranks fourth in adjusted defensive efficiency, fifth in defensive rating and fourth in effective field goal percentage. The Rams are also fourth in turnover percentage.
As much as VCU excels at forcing turnovers, it’s just as bad at protecting the ball at the other end. The Rams are 347th in turnover percentage offensively.
The turnovers drag down an offense that ranks 239th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
VCU is led by point guard Ace Baldwin, who is averaging 11.2 points, 5.6 assists and 2.7 steals while shooting 41.4% from behind the arc. Senior forward Vince Williams leads the team with 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Fellow senior guard KeShawn Curry puts up 10.7 points and 3.1 rebounds a contest.
The Tigers locked up a spot in the NIT by winning the Ivy League regular-season title but were bested by Yale in the Ivy Madness final. It has to hurt to lose a game for a trip to the NCAA Tournament just hours before the Selection Show, especially after a 12-2 season in conference.
Yale proved itself a worthy adversary and was no slouch in the Ivy, going 11-3 and topping the Tigers in two of their three meetings.
Princeton needs to regroup and refocus on the NIT because these Tigers are good enough to make waves in this tournament. Princeton owns a top-35 offense in college basketball, thanks to one of the best outside shooting teams in the nation.
Head coach Mitch Henderson surrounds Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan with a stable of shooters, daring teams to double the athletic big when he posts or drives. The Tigers hit 38.5% from deep this year and scored 41% of their points from out there.
Henderson preaches for his team to either get a 3 or attack the rim. Princeton had the sixth-lowest percentage of 2-point jump shots this season, per Hoop-Math.
On the other end, Princeton is focused on preventing 3s and freebies. Only three teams in the country allowed a higher percentage of their opponents’ points to come via 2-point buckets.
That statistic is not due to any lack of size or athleticism on the interior. Princeton plays to force tough 2-pointers, the analytics nerds’ least favorite shot.
VCU vs. Princeton Betting Pick
VCU opened as a 6-point favorite and was immediately steamed to seven points.
KenPom assigns 3.6 points for the Rams when playing at the Siegel Center. Princeton has had no issues on the road, covering four of its last five away from home while posting eight overs in 11 games.
The good-on-good matchup is certainly a Princeton offense that ranks fifth in effective field goal percentage and a VCU defense that excels in shutting down opponents from a shooting perspective.
Princeton shoots a heavy amount of 3-pointers, ranking 11th in the nation in point distribution from beyond the arc. Specifically, the catch-and-shoot 3 will be problematic for VCU, as the Tigers are 11th in frequency and 10th in efficiency on catch-and-shoot triples. The Rams are 333rd in the nation in defending the catch-and-shoot 3.
There are plenty of offensive categories that favor Princeton, but will the Tigers have enough in the tank on defense to hold serve with VCU?
The Rams’ most frequent offensive set is transition and finishing at the rim. Princeton has the same defensive efficiency ranks as VCU has on the offensive side in those specific categories.
This Princeton team loves the road, covering games and going over the total when leaving Jadwin Gymnasium. Look to back the Tigers — a more experienced team that has a mismatch to exploit on offense.
Pick: Princeton +7 (Play to +6)
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