Richmond vs. Saint Louis College Basketball Odds, Picks & Predictions: Billikens Should Roll at Home (Friday, Feb. 26)
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Goodwin
- Richmond and Saint Louis square off in a matchup of programs who have had to deal with stoppages this season due to COVID-19.
- The Billikens have lost their last two games, although they are coming off a hard-luck shooting outing then a tough matchup with VCU.
- Pat McMahon lays out why he’s backing Saint Louis as home favorites against the Spiders.
Richmond vs. Saint Louis Odds
|Richmond Odds||+5 (-110)|
|Saint Louis Odds||-5 (-110)|
|Time | TV||Friday, 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2|
|Odds as of Thursday night and via FanDuel.|
Richmond heads to Saint Louis on Friday night to face the Billikens in a matchup of two of the Atlantic 10’s top teams.
Both teams entered the season with NCAA Tournament aspirations, and they each looked the part in the early portion of the season. As the calendar flipped to 2021, however, things went downhill for both squads. An extended COVID-19 pause kept Saint Louis (11-5, 4-4) off the court for more than a month, and it came back from the pause with back-to-back losses to Dayton and La Salle. Throw in a second loss to Dayton last week and a heartbreaking defeat at VCU on Tuesday, and the Billikens’ at-large hopes have all but vanished.
Richmond (13-5, 6-3) has had its season paused for COVID-related concerns three separate times, and it has seemingly taken a toll on the Spiders. They suffered a bad home loss to La Salle after coming back from a pause in January. In an effort to alleviate potential rust when coming back from their more recent pause in February, Richmond scheduled a last-minute game against Division-III St. Mary’s College before a big tilt with VCU. That strategy didn’t quite work out, as the Spiders’ offense struggled in a 12-point loss to the Rams.
Richmond’s NCAA Tournament resume looks a little better than the Billikens’ at the moment thanks to a strong 5-3 record against NET Quad 1 and 2 opponents. The Spiders are still likely on the wrong side of the bubble at present, but a road win here would give them another Quad 1 victory and be a huge boost to their case come Selection Sunday.
When Richmond has the ball
The veteran-laden Spiders are a very good offensive team, and rank high in many advance metrics. They are currently 22nd in adjusted offensive efficiency, per KenPom.
They’re a strong shooting team at every level, hitting 48.2% from the field, 35.4% from 3, and 73.5% from the free-throw line.
What makes Richmond so dangerous is its balance and unselfishness. All five starters average double-figures, and each one is capable of going off for a big game on any given night. The Spiders have great chemistry and trust each other, and as a result they rarely take a bad shot.
The Spiders are really good at playing inside/out through Grant Golden. The senior center can score in the post (13.4 points per game), but is also great at kicking it out to shooters on the wing. Golden is second on the team in assists per game, averaging an impressive 3.4. Leading scorer Blake Francis (16.6 ppg) is an excellent shooter who’s often the beneficiary of the play-making skills of Golden and point guard Jacob Gilyard (5.3 assists per game).
Another thing that makes this offense so efficient is its ability to take care of the basketball. Per teamrankings.com, Richmond ranks 12th in turnover rate, coughing it up on just 13.4% of their possessions.
As good as the Spiders offense has been, they could be in for some trouble going up against a very strong Saint Louis defense. The Billikens boast a top-50 defense in terms of efficiency, which is third best in the A-10 behind VCU and St. Bonaventure.
Richmond’s offense struggled in losses to both of those teams, scoring just 56 against VCU and 66 against the Bonnies. These were the only two times the Spiders were held to fewer than 70 points in conference play.
The Billikens possess great athleticism across the board and are anchored by one of the A-10’s top interior defenders, Hasahn French. They’re also one of the deeper teams in the conference, and use that to their advantage to keep players fresh while maintaining a high defensive intensity.
One of the keys to Saint Louis’ defensive success is limiting second-chance opportunities. The Billikens rank 13th in the nation in defensive rebounding rate, and 10th in rebounding margin.
When Saint Louis has the ball
The Billikens have a solid offense, but have struggled in their last two games. They were an abysmal 27% from the floor in last week’s 76-53 loss at Dayton. They were a little better at VCU on Tuesday, hitting 42% from the field. Their struggles from 3-point range (30%) and the free-throw line (61%) proved costly in the two-point loss.
For the season, the Billikens are posting strong numbers. They rank 59th in adjusted offensive efficiency and score 76.1 points per game. They’re a quality shooting team, posting averages of 46% from the floor and 34% from 3-point range.
Saint Louis is much more top-heavy on offense than Richmond. The Billikens are very reliant on Javonte Perkins (17.1 points per game) and Jordan Goodwin (14.7), the only two players averaging double figures. Both players had terrible shooting nights in the Dayton loss, combining to shoot 5-of-30 from the floor.
While Goodwin and Perkins can be counted on most nights, the key to the Billikens’ success often comes down to getting their third or fourth options to step up. Sharpshooter Gibson Jimerson is the third leading scorer (9.6 ppg), but has struggled with consistency this season. He was on a tear to start the year in non-conference play, but has managed to reach double figures in just two of Saint Louis’ eight A-10 games. When Jimerson is on from deep, defenses can’t help off him and the Saint Louis offense becomes extremely difficult to stop.
Richmond is decent on the defense end, ranking 97th in defensive efficiency. The Spiders’ defensive shooting numbers aren’t great, as they’re allowing opponents to shoot 46% from the floor and 34% from beyond the arc.
The one area that Richmond excels in defensively is turning its opponent over. The Spiders rank 40th in opponent turnover rate, creating turnovers on 21.5% of the opponents possessions. Gilyard deserves most of the credit for this impressive number. He wreaks havoc on opposing ball-handlers, and leads the nation in steals per game with 3.6.
Betting Analysis & Pick
These have been two of the hardest teams to handicap all season due to their extensive COVID-19 issues within the program. Thankfully, Richmond has been able to stay on the court for the last two weeks while Saint Louis has been clear of COVID issues now for the better part of February.
Despite their struggles over the past two games, I think the Billikens are the right side on Friday. They are due for some positive shooting variance after their worst performance of the year at Dayton, then subsequently running into the top defense in the conference at VCU directly after.
As long as teams can avoid coughing it up, Richmond is vulnerable defensively. Saint Louis does a nice job of taking care of the basketball and has a point guard who can handle Gilyard’s pressure in Yuri Collins.
Collins has a phenomenal 3.1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which ranks 18th in the nation. He played with great poise in Saint Louis’ 16-point win at Richmond last season, dishing out seven assists and only committing two turnovers.
I like Collins to have another big game and get the ball into the hands of the Billikens’ scorers again this time around. I also believe Saint Louis is talented and disciplined enough defensively to limit Richmond’s balanced attack. Thanks to Saint Louis coming off two straight losses, it looks like we’re getting a discount on the Billikens here. Expect them to roll at home for a big win.
Pick: Saint Louis -5. (Play up to -6)