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VCU Rams vs. Oregon State Beavers: NCAA Tournament First Round Preview and Prediction

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While the VCU Rams are a No.10 seed in this year's NCAA Tournament, it wouldn't be a surprise if they were to defeat their first round opponent, the Oregon State Beavers. The Rams are 4.5-point favorites in Friday afternoon's game in Oklahoma City.

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Let's take a look at the tale of the tape between VCU and Oregon State.

No. 10 VCU Rams (24-10) vs. No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (19-12)

When: 1:30 p.m. ET (Friday)

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)

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Line: VCU -4.5

Keys for VCU

Shaka Smart might have taken his talents to Austin to coach the Texas Longhorns, but VCU is still a tough defensive team. First-year head coach Will Wade has carried on Smart's tradition, as VCU ranks ninth in the country in steals per game (8.8), eighth in turnover margin (+4.0) and No. 18 in forced turnovers (15.44). VCU is a deep team that loves to suffocate opponents and limit their opportunities, so expect them to do the same to Oregon State.

Keys for Oregon State

Gary Payton II, son of NBA legend Gary Payton, is the consensus leader for the Beavers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior guard is averaging 15.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals per game. Oregon State also will need to get contributions from Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. if it is going to defeat a tough VCU team.

Final Analysis

While Oregon State played the 13th-toughest schedule in the country this season, VCU appears to be the better and more dynamic team. Outside of Payton, Tinkle and Thompson Jr., Oregon State doesn't have a lot of depth. VCU's defense will be too much to overcome.

Prediction: VCU 74, Oregon State 67

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)