Oregon guard Chris Duarte (5) and forward Eugene Omoruyi (2) celebrate after the team’s NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Andy Nelson)
- Oregon has won six of its last seven games entering its first-round matchup with VCU at 9:57 pm ET on Saturday
- VCU is making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and its 12th since 2004
- Check out the odds, analysis, and betting predictions, below
No. 7 seed Oregon (20-6) enters an NCAA West Regional game against VCU on a bit of a roll, having won six of its last seven games. The Ducks won the Pac-12 regular-season title but lost in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals to arch-rival Oregon State.
No. 10 seed VCU (19-7) finished second to St. Bonaventure in both Atlantic 10 regular-season play and in the league tournament. The Rams have won nine of their last 12 games.
VCU vs Oregon Odds
|VCU Rams||+194||+5.5 (-110)||137 (Ov-116)|
|Oregon Ducks||-235||-5.5 (-106)||137 (Un-106)|
Odds as of March 17.
Oregon has made the NCAA Tournament a tradition during coach Dana Altman’s tenure. The Ducks have played in seven of the last eight tournaments and have advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in their last three appearances, 2016-17 and 2019.
VCU has lost its last two and four of its last five first-round NCAA Tournament games, but it will forever hold a place in tournament lore for its march to the 2011 Final Four that began with a victory over USC in the play-in game and included a take-down of Midwest No. 1 seed Kansas.
Skin and ‘Bones’
Virginia Commonwealth is led by 6’3, 165-pound sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, who was named the A10 Player of the Year after his breakout season.
A combo-guard, Hyland is averaging 19.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. He leads the league in scoring and in three-point makes with 67, just over three per game. He has made 86.2% of his free-throw attempts.
Hyland returned for the A10 tournament after missing two games and part of a third following a sprained right foot suffered against George Mason on Feb. 20. The Rams lost that game and split the next two before Hyland was cleared to come back.
He showed no ill effects from the layoff. Hyland 30 points, one short of a season high, and 10 rebounds in a 73-68 victory over Dayton in the quarterfinals. He had 12 points in a semifinal victory over Davidson and 21 against St. Bonaventure in the finals.
Hyland has three double-doubles, all in points and rebounds. Freshman guard Adrian Baldwin (2.3) and Hyland (2.0) are 2-3 in the A10 in steals per game.
Forward Vince Williams is averaging 10.6 points and 5.2 rebounds per game and has made 41-of-99 three-pointers, 41.4%. Center Hasan Ward is averaging 2.4 blocked shots per game. VCU has a plus-seven rebound margin and led the A10 in blocked shots and steals.
2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker
Oregon Playing Well
Although the Ducks shot poorly and were hammered on the boards in a 75-64 loss to Oregon State in Pac-12 Tournament semifinals, they have been on a nice run since point guard Will Richardson returned following preseason surgery to repair his left (shooting) thumb.
The Ducks are 11-3 since Richardson returned, and 11-2 after he blew off the rust in a 2-for-9 shooting performance in a Feb. 4 loss to Washington State. Oregon’s only loss other loss before the Pac-12 tournament was to USC, which is the sixth seed in the West Region.
Senior combo guard Chris Duarte, The Associated Press Pac-12 Player of the Year, is averaging 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game.
The Duarte/Richardson and Hyland/Baldwin matchups will be worth watching.
The Ducks Like This Spot
Oregon has been an achiever, and on several occasions an over-achiever, in its most recent NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Ducks made the 2016 Elite Eight as the No. 1 seed in the West Regional before losing to Oklahoma and hot-shooting Buddy Hield 80-68, and they did more with what oddsmakers considered less in 2017 and 2019, their next two trips.
Third-seeded Oregon beat No. 1 seed Kansas 74-60 for a spot in the 2017 Final Four before falling to eventual champion North Carolina 77-76. The Ducks won two games as a No. 12 seed in 2019 before falling to eventual national champion Virginia 53-49 in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Ducks have won at least one game in their last six tournament appearances and are 13-6 since 2013.
By the Numbers
VCU is 45th at KenPom in adjusted efficiency margin and ranks 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency, ahead of Houston, Virginia, and Wisconsin among others. Oregon is 36th in adjusted efficiency and 16th in adjusted offensive efficiency, ahead of Purdue, BYU, and Texas.
The Rams are 6-9-1 ATS in their last 16, and 1-3 in their last four as an underdog. Oregon is 5-2 ATS in its last seven, all as a favorite. VCU won in the only previous meeting, 77-63 in the 2014 Legends Classic in Brooklyn.
Oregon has played so well in recent NCAA tournaments that it is tough to go against them, but this team is not of the same vintage. The A10 was 0-2 in the 2019 NCAA tournament but won three games the year before. Any points here are worth taking.
The pick: VCU +5.5 (-116)
Jack has covered college and professional sports for various Arizona media outlets and has written for the AP, USA Today and Baseball America, among others. He staffed the 2015-17 World Series and has staffed four Super Bowls.