Why are some calling the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks the sleeper in the South region?
Perhaps it's because they have won 28 straight games, two more than the region's top-seeded Florida Gators. The 'Jacks face the Virginia Commonwealth Rams, who have covered 10 of 13 overall, in their first game of the NCAA tournament.
VCU also boasts one of the best tournament marks at 12-2 against the spread.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Rams opened as 6.5-point favorites, and the line was holding steady at most sportsbooks late Thursday. The total was 136.5. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Stephen F. Austin to cover the spread
The Southland Conference champs are seeded 12th, and the 5 vs. 12 matchup has been unpredictable over the years. The Lumberjacks' red-hot quintet is led by a dangerous guard trio of Desmond Haymon (14.2 points per game), Thomas Walkup (12.9 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game) and Trey Pinkney (3.4 assists per game).
They're unselfish and confident, don't get flustered that often and haven't lost in a long time.
Why pick Virginia Commonwealth to cover the spread
The No. 5 Rams arrive with an at-large bid after losing to St. Joseph's in the Atlantic 10 championship game. They're on a 12-2 run against the betting line in this tournament since 2004.
VCU's "havoc" style was beefed up with what coach Shaka Smart calls his toughest team in quite some time.
Smart betting pick
The fact the Rams will be without the Atlantic 10's Sixth Man of the Year, Melvin Johnson, who contributed 10.5 points per game, could create problems for the short-handed Rams.
During the Lumberjacks' 27-game win streak, they've won 19 by double digits and all of them by an average of 15.2 points per win. Take the dog here to potentially follow the lead of earlier 12 seeds who dump 5 seeds.
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks: No. 88
Virginia Commonwealth Rams: No. 5 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- VCU is 10-3 ATS past 13 games overall
- VCU is 12-2 ATS past 14 tournament games since 2004
- Stephen F. Austin won 28 straight games