First Four – NCAA Tournament Gambling – VCU Rams vs USC Trojans Free College Basketball Pick
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Southern California (19-14, 10-8 Pac-10) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (23-11, 12-6 CAA)
Date/Time: Wednesday, March 16, 9:10 PM ET
Venue: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, OH.
Money Line: USC -210, VCU +175
Spread: USC -4 ½
Over/Under: 129 ½
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The Southern California Trojans will mix it with the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth in the last of the last of the initial ‘First Four’ games of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Wednesday in Dayton. This on figures to be an interesting matchup with the winner taking on the No. 6 seeded Georgetown Hoyas in the Southwest Region on Friday.
Southern California comes into the contest having won seven of their last ten, and earned a spot with an at-large bid by snagging of quality victories against the Longhorns and Volunteers, and a close loss at Kansas. They finished fourth in the Pac-10 during the regular season.
The Rams sneaked into the tournament on pure strength of schedule that included a victory over UCLA and splitting the their match ups with fellow Colonial Athletic Association clubs George Mason and Old Dominion, Losses against Tennessee, Richmond, and UAB did not bolster their record, but did help their preparation for March Madness.
This is the second tourney appearance in three years for VCU and third time in the past five. Their 2007 run included a stunning win over Duke while their last appearance in 2009, saw the Rams edge out the Bruins by just a single point.
Meanwhile, the Trojans return to tournament action for the fourth time in five years after a one-year absence, and head into Wednesday contest coming off a Pac-10 semifinals loss to Arizona. Things began to unravel before the team ever set their sneakers on the hardwood against the Wildcats as Trojans’ head coach Kevin O’Neill got into a shouting match with an Arizona fan on Thursday and was suspended by the university for his conduct, but was reinstated late Saturday following an apology.
The team played well without O’Neill, as Bob Cantu, the Trojans’ associate head coach in his 10th year with the program, took over and paced the sideline.
Nikola Vucevic led the way for USC. The junior forward scored a team-best 17.3 points per game and grabbing 10.2 rebounds per contest. Vucevic hit a pair of free throws to draw the Trojans within three with 2:29 left, while Jio Fontan’s 3-pointer left them trailing 63-60 with 48 seconds to go.
VCU relies on balanced scoring, with four players averaging double-figures per game. Jamie Skeen leads the Rams with 15.3 PPG, while Joey Rodriguez works the delivery side by leading the conference in 4.8 assists per game.
Matt’s Free Prediction: The Rams have shown more consistency throughout the season and their solid defense should disrupt Vucevic, which limits the Trojans options offensively and should give the VCU the win.
Matt Martz is a sports writer for the Bakersfield Californian, the Oregonian, the Springfield Republican, the Sacramento Bee, and the San Diego Union Tribune. Blessed is the gambler who expects nothing, for ye shall not be disappointed.