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UCF in Search of First Tournament Win in Matchup Against VCU

The 2018-19 UCF Knights became the first team in program history to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. With an 0-4 all-time tournament record, they also look to become the first squad to win and advance to the weekend. The Knights are 28-8 overall and 18-12-1 against the spread this season, but 8-2 ATS over their past 10 games.

Virginia Commonwealth finished 25-7 during the regular season and posted a bettor-friendly 20-11-1 ATS record. The Rams are 10-3 ATS over their past 13 games. As one would expect in a No. 8 vs No. 9 matchup, the line opened with VCU favored by 1 before the script flipped to UCF -1. The total opened at 125 before it jumped to 127.

UCF vs VCU Game Center

STANDOUT STATS

  • Aside from the fact it plays in the A-10 and its Sagarin strength of schedule rating is 101st, VCU does possess an elite defense. The Rams rank seventh in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency and third in defensive effective field-goal percentage and force 16.2 turnovers per game, the 10th-most in college basketball. They’ve also held opposing offenses to 27.6 percent from beyond the arc – third-best nationally.
  • The Knights will attempt to counter with an offense that led the AAC in field-goal percentage at 46.3 percent. UCF’s leading scorer is B.J. Taylor at 16 points per game, but the guy to watch is the NCAA’s all-time leader in field-goal percentage: seven-foot-six Tacko Fall, who has made 75.4 percent of his shots this season.
  • While not a top-10 defensively efficient program, UCF holds its own in KenPom’s advanced metric world. The Knights possess the 13th-best defensive effective field-goal rate and opposing offenses are only connecting on 44.6 percent of their two-point attempts, which ranks 14th nationally, four slots behind VCU at No. 10.
  • VCU and UCF average roughly nine fewer points per game away from their home court. Their average combined total in away games this season is 133.6 points per game.
  • Both teams shoot below 70 percent at the free-throw line. In what is expected to be a close game late, keep this in mind before considering the OVER.
  • The total has gone UNDER in three of VCU’s last four games with a combined average score of 131.25, and in four consecutive UCF games with a combined average total of 127.25 or a tick over the point total in this matchup.
  • The No. 8 seed is 5-1 straight up and against the spread when favored by 1 or fewer points against a No. 9 seed. In that sample size, the OVER has hit in three consecutive games dating back to 2004.

MY LEAN

UCF -1, OVER 127

Aside from watching Tacko Fall run the floor, this has all the makings of a slow-tempo, grind-it-out defensive struggle where the first team to 65 wins. Whereas VCU may boast the more statistically sexy defensive metrics, the Knights beat both Cincinnati and Houston in the last few weeks, while the Rams’ best win this season may have come at Texas.

In a coin-flip No. 8 vs No. 9 matchup, I’ll lean UCF -1 and take the OVER.

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