Round 2 of the Atlantic 10 tournament tips off Thursday, as those programs lucky enough to earn an opening-round bye take the court. We’re sizing up all four matchups, the NCAA basketball odds, and best bets for Thursday’s A10 tournament slate.
Odds: URI -5, 137 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 12 p.m. ET Barclays Center, New York
Season Series: URI 1-0 SU, URI 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U
No. 8 Rhode Island rolls into the conference tournament on a four-game SU and ATS winning streak but did so against some of the softer opponents in the A10. Outside of an overtime victory at Dayton, the Rams beat up on basement dwellers George Washington, UMass, and St. Joseph’s to close out the year. Momentum is great, but this team did precede that streak with a five-game skid against tougher foes.
Luckily for URI, No. 9 La Salle doesn’t fall into that “tough” category. The Explorers posted only 10 wins and struggled mightily away from home, picking up just three true road victories all season. La Salle watches its production drop more than eight points per game away from home while shooting just 38.5 percent as a visitor. Given Rhode Island’s questionable momentum and La Salle’s road woes, playing the spread and total here is a tough decision.
What I will do is go Over the Rams’ team total of 71 points, considering their output during that winning streak (78.5 ppg in regulation) and the fact they get to the foul line a lot, putting up points with the clock stopped, and La Salle ranked 316th in foul shots given per game. In their lone meeting this season, URI went to the line 34 times (making 19 FTs and scoring 78 points).
Odds: George Mason -8, 137 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 2:30 p.m. ET Barclays Center
Season Series: GMU 2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U
George Washington put in one hell of an effort versus UMass in the opening round, falling behind 25-11 with just over 12 minutes left in the first half before locking the Minutemen down, allowing only five more points in the opening frame. That set up a comeback and eventual win in overtime, however, it leaves questions around the Colonials’ gas tank heading into Thursday on short rest.
George Mason enjoyed a first-round bye and is fresh off an 81-65 road victory over GW on March 9, covering as a 4.5-point favorite. That win was just the Patriots’ second W in the final six games of the A10 regular season – a stretch in which GMU was terribly inconsistent on offense.
The Patriots were forced to go deep into their bench due to injuries early in the season, but that has helped them develop some young talents and add a little depth. George Mason has three guys averaging double figures and six contributing six points or more per game. I’m siding with the deeper rested side over the team coming off grueling OT grinder. GMU -8 it is.
Odds: St. Joseph's -1.5, 148.5 O/U at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 6 p.m. ET Barclays Center
Season Series: DUQ 1-0 SU, JOES 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U
First halves have been busy for St. Joe’s bettors in recent games, with the No. 10 Hawks and their last six A10 foes averaging a collective output of 71.8 points in the opening 20 minutes. Outside of duds versus La Salle and Fordham, St. Joseph’s has watched first-half totals of 91, 77, 74, and 73 points hit the scoreboard during that span.
On the season, Hawks' away games have posted a collective 73.9 first-half points with St. Joe’s offense actually producing better as a visitor. Thursday’s opponent, No. 7 Duquesne, sits second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (73.1 ppg) and dropped 40 on the Hawks in the first half of their January 12 meeting.
The Dukes are young but talented and pose plenty of scoring depth while the Hawks boast A10 leading scorer Charlie Brown Jr. (18.8 ppg). I like both squads to come out firing and cash a quick-hitting Over 70 for the first-half total.
RICHMOND SPIDERS VS SAINT LOUIS BILLIKENS
Odds: Saint Louis -5, 135.5 at FanDuel Sportsbook
Start Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Barclays Center
Season Series: RICH 1-0 SU, RICH 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U
No. 11 Richmond needed last-second dramatics to sneak away with a win in the opening round of the A10 tournament and can blame another bad second half for making things so tight. After looking in command in the first 20 minutes, the Spiders were outscored 32-29 in the second half and needed a bucket with 0.2 left to make this date with No. 6 Saint Louis.
Poor second-half showings have plagued this Richmond team, getting outscored in the final frame in four of its last five outings and losing by an average score of 40.8 to 37 in those closing halves. Granted, some of those games game against the top teams in the A10 but this is a quirk basketball bettors should be wary of.
The Billikens are out for a little retribution after letting a double bye slip through their hands in the regular season finale. Saint Louis is very strong on the glass, leading the conference in rebounds per game (ranked 16th in DREB), while Richmond has been outrebounded in four of its last five and by an average of 35-28.6 in that span. Saint Louis pushes the Spiders around and takes control thanks to another soft second half from Richmond. Billikens against the spread.
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