Last Updated: 2017-03-07
It isn’t a particularly strong slate in college basketball on Tuesday night, so the best game of the night may come from the Atlantic-10 Conference. The Richmond Spiders head to Fairfax, Virginia to take on the George Mason Patriots. This game has some pretty big implications in the conference standings as the A-10 Conference Tournament draws near. This line has bounced back and forth from Richmond -1 at open to Richmond +1. Shopping around for the best price is something that every handicapper needs to do and if DSI Sportsbook isn’t part of your rotation, sign up using the promo code ‘BTBRADIO’ and grab a $10 free bet just for signing up and an additional 50 to 100 percent deposit bonus based on the amount of your initial deposit.
After getting three teams in the Big Dance last season, the A-10 might only be a two-bid league this season. Dayton, VCU, and Saint Joseph’s, who went on a huge run to win the Conference Tournament, represented the league. George Washington won the NIT. Rhode Island is probably the third-best team in the league, if not the second-best, but the Rams have dealt with a lot of injuries and haven’t gotten that signature win. Richmond is likely an NIT or CBI team with its 15-9 record and 9-3 mark in conference. The Spiders are 12-8 against the spread. George Mason is just 7-5 in conference play after a 10-3 start against non-conference foes. The Patriots have won three straight and four of the last five to get back on track.
Chris Mooney is an exceptional head coach at Richmond and he’s really done a splendid job of maximizing his talent during his tenure. Unfortunately, it looks like Richmond will fall short of the field of 68 yet again, unless something crazy happens during the conference tourney. Richmond made a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011 and made it to the quarterfinals of the NIT in 2015, but postseason successes have been few and far between. Mooney hasn’t had a losing season at Richmond since 2006-07 and has had a few 20-win seasons, but there’s so much competition for recruiting in that area that it has been hard to put a consistent top-tier team together.
That’s evident with this season’s team. Scoring is very top-heavy with players like TJ Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones filling it up on a nightly basis. Cline has scored 19 points with over eight rebounds and 5.5 assists per contest. Jones has scored 17.2 points with 4.2 assists per game. The two senior starters are hoping for some magic late in the year, but it’s important to point out that Richmond lacks scoring depth and that’s why the team has struggled. Sophomore Khwan Fore and freshman De’Monte Buckingham are the top secondary scorers for the Spiders and will likely slot into the roles of their predecessors going forward. Richmond is an extremely young team with five seniors, one junior, and a ton of upperclassmen. Richmond ranks 96th in the KenPom metrics. Their adjusted offensive efficiency rank is 143rd and their adjusted defensive efficiency rank is 66.
The George Mason Patriots have been looking for the right pieces ever since Jim Larranaga left for Miami in 2011. Larranaga led the Patriots to one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all-time in 2006 when George Mason went to the Final Four. Since then, the Patriots have two tournament appearances and are 1-2. They haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since Larranaga left. Paul Hewitt went 66-67 in his five seasons and then Dave Paulsen took over. Paulsen’s Patriots were 11-21 last season, so we’ve seen a marked improvement this season with a 17-8 record. Paulsen had been the head coach at Bucknell. The Patriots did pad their record against the 274th-ranked non-conference schedule per KenPom. They rank 115th in his ratings, 98th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 170th in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Marquise Moore is a man. The senior from Queens is averaging a double-double with 17.6 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. The catch is that he’s a 6-foot-2 guard. You would expect numbers like that from a big with a size mismatch, but that’s not the case at all. He also happens to be leading the team in assists. If Richmond has no depth, George Mason really has no depth. The top four scorers are averaging over 11 points each and then there’s a big drop-off. Otis Livingston II, Jalen Jenkins, and Justin Kier are next in line. The Patriots are one of the top rebounding teams in the country and Richmond is not, so that could be a mismatch that George Mason could exploit to come away with what would be a big win for the program. The Patriots could really open some eyes during this stretch that starts with Richmond and features Rhode Island, Dayton, and then VCU to end the regular season.
College Basketball Free Pick: George Mason Patriots +1
Shop around for the top number on this one. It seems like the sharp side slightly favors George Mason, which could have a lot to do with the rebounding edge. The Patriots held a big rebounding edge when these two teams met in Richmond earlier this season. Perhaps bettors felt there was a little bit of a recency bias with Richmond’s five-game ATS winning streak. This should be a close, back-and-forth affair. There could be a bit of a look-ahead factor for Richmond. They battle VCU next time out at home and on ESPN2.
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