The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 14th with the First Four, and then moves on to the First Round on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17. The No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s will face the No. 12 seed VCU on Friday.
Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the matchup.
Game date: Friday, March 17
Game time: 1:50 p.m. ET
TV channel: TBS
Location: Albany, NY
Odds: Saint Mary’s -5
No. 5 Saint Mary’s
Saint Mary’s is used to playing in Gonzaga’s shadow, but the Gaels were the Bulldogs’ equals this season. They even beat them in the regular season. No. 16 Saint Mary’s is no longer flying under the radar thanks to a trio of guards who force opposing teams to match their frenetic pace.
Logan Johnson, Aidan Mahaney, and Alex Ducas average a combined 41.6 points per game. Mahaney, Ducas, and forward Kyle Bowen all shoot better than 40 percent from three-point range. It remains to be seen how the Gaels will deal with a team that tries to slow their offensive tempo, but they have the offensive playmakers to make a deep run.
No. 12 VCU
The VCU Rams rolled through the Atlantic-10 Tournament with three wins in Brooklyn to claim the conference’s automatic bid into the big Dance. VCU is a significantly better team on the defensive end of the floor than it is offensively.
The Rams are led by junior guard Adrian Baldwin Jr., who is the team leader in points (12.6) and assists (5.8) per game this season with 6-foot-9 sophomore Jalen DeLoach adding 6.9 boards per contest. VCU failed to qualify for the dance last season but advanced for the third time in the last four NCAA Tournaments.
Record: 26-7, 15-3 Atlantic 10
Coach: Mike Rhoades
Qualifier: Automatic Bid
KenPom overall: 66
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 149
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 17
PPP overall: 1.016
Leading scorer: Ace Baldwin
Quad 1 record: 1-1
Against The Spread: 18-15-1
Over Total: 14-20-0