NCAA Basketball: Richmond/St. Louis Preview, Odds, Prediction - 02/26/2021

by Big Al Staff

A Friday ESPN2 college basketball doubleheader tips off at 7 PM ET with a battle between Atlantic 10 teams on the NCAA tournament bubble.

Richmond won their fourth game in five contests on Tuesday in a 79-65 victory against UMass as a 10-point favorite. Blake Francis paved the way with 20 points, and the senior is the team’s leading scorer with a 16.6 points-per-game scoring average. Nathan Cayo added 18 points with seven rebounds. The senior forward is adding 12.2 points-per-game and is one of five players scoring at least 11.4 points-per-game.

The Spiders returned the top-seven scorers from the team last year that finished 24-7. Chris Mooney benefitted from five seniors in his starting lineup before losing guard Nick Sherod to a season-ending knee injury in the fall. Richmond ranks 24th in the nation and tops in the Atlantic 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency. They make 55.3% of their shots inside the arc, ranking 25th nationally. They are also seven in the nation, with a turnover rate of 14.7%. The Spiders rank 96th nationally and ninth in the A-10 in adjusted defensive efficiency. Opponents make 55.6% of their 2-point shots, ranking 326th nationally.

Richmond is 54th in the kenpom ratings with a 13-5 record. They have an impressive quality win against a Loyola-Chicago team ranked ninth in the nation by kenpom. They also have a victory against Kentucky in non-conference play. Their three losses to West Virginia, St. Bonaventure, and VCU are against teams ranked higher by kenpom. However, a pair of losses to Hofstra and LaSalle ranked 175th and 179th at kenpom dog their at-large NCAA tournament possibilities. Their 6-3 record in the Atlantic 10 puts them in a tie for third place.

Saint Louis was upset at Dayton, 76-53, as a 6-point favorite last Friday. The Billikens followed that up on Tuesday by suffering a 67-65 upset loss at VCU as a 3-point favorite. Javonte Perkins had a chance to win the game but missed his 3-point attempt at time expired. The senior scored 16 points and added seven rebounds, and he leads the team with a 17.1 points-per-game scoring average. Jordan Goodwin had 16 points with 12 rebounds. The 6’3 stats-machine scores 14.7 points-per-game while contributing 10.5 rebounds-per-game and 3.6 assists-per-game. Hasahn French scored a season-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds. The senior forward scores 8.4 points-per-game and pulls down 7.1 rebounds-per-game.

Travis Ford has back all five starters and nine of the ten rotational players from the team that finished 23-8 last season. He has one of the best rebounding teams in the nation. Saint Louis pulls down 35.8% of their missed shots, ranking 13th nationally. They hold their opponents to second-chance opportunities in only 22.6% of their possessions, ranking 16th nationally. The Billikens rank 60th and 51st nationally in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency at kenpom.

Saint Louis is 51st in the nation in the kenpom rankings with a 13-5 record. They are in eighth place in the rugged Atlantic 10, 4-4, where they rank fifth in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. The Billikens have a high-profile victory against LSU along with wins against North Carolina State and St. Bonaventure. They have two losses to Dayton and setbacks to VCU and Minnesota. But it is a loss to LaSalle that sticks out like a sore thumb on their NCAA tournament resume.

This showdown is the first meeting between these two teams this season. BookMaker lists Saint Louis as a 4.5-point favorite, with the total at 144.

Computer Prediction:  Saint Louis 74 Richmond 67

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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