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Richmond Favored to Advance to Second-Round Over Saint Mary’s

March 17th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Saint Mary’s shocked the college basketball landscape with their 81-62 victory over Gonzaga in the Western Conference tournament final.  With the victory, they stamped an automatic berth to the big dance.  The NCAA selection committee slated them as the No.10 seed in the South Regional, where they will open against at-large selection Richmond.

As a result of their triumph over Gonzaga, the Gaels (26-5) have won five games in a row entering the opening round of the tournament.  Moreover, these wins have been convincing.  Saint Mary’s won every game during the streak by eight points or more, highlighted by the win over the Bulldogs.

The Gaels are led on offense in the low post by center Omar Samhan, who is averaging a staggering 21 points per game, and 11 rebounds.  He is unquestioned leader on the floor for Saint Mary’s and the team will rely on him to be productive.

Following Samhan is a tandem of guards in Mickey McConnel and Matthew Dellavedova, who each average over 12 points per game and combine for nearly 10 assists.

Each of the five starters on offense for the Gaels average double-digits in points, as the team is effective at spreading the ball around, and keeping opposing defense on their heels.

On the other side of the court, the Spiders (26-8) lost to Temple in the Atlantic-10 Tournament final, in a closely contested defensive battle, 56-52.

Guard Kevin Anderson leads the way, tabbing 17.8 points per night, while fellow guard David Gonzalvez adds 14.5.  Richmond is on the radar for several basketball analysts as a potential dark horse that could make a run in the tournament.

The Spiders shoot the ball well from the floor and the free throw line.  As a team, they are 49 percent from the floor, and 41 percent from beyond the 3-point range.  Additionally they are 76 percent from the charity stripe.

Defensively, the Spiders will have to find a way to contain Samhan.  If they can limit his impact on the game and force the ball into the other players hands, Richmond can force low percentage shots.

Online Sportsbooks have installed Richmond as the betting favorite to advance to the field of 32.  Bodog has established the Spiders as a two-point favorite.

The Gaels are 4-1 ATS spanning their last five games, and the theme continues with neutral sites, as they are also 4-1 ATS in their last five.

On the other side of the court, Richmond is 10-2-2 ATS in their last 14 games played.

Saint Mary’s takes on Richmond on Thursday at 3pm Est in Providence, Rhode Island.

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