The Rams are back in action tomorrow at the Siegel Center after eight days of holiday relaxation taking on the struggling Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson.
VCU (9-3) has won their last six, their five home wins coming by an average of 24.8 points. Five of Fairleigh Dickinson’s (4-6) six losses this season have come on the road this season, losing by an average of 32 points.
Things won’t get any easier for FDU against one of the nation’s most intense defenses.
Here’s the preview…
Believe it or not, Fairleigh Dickinson are already big winners this season, having won one more game than all of last season’s 3-26 debacle. Facing an NCAA tournament caliber team in VCU, the Knights will get another challenge heading into NEC play. So far they’ve taken on big road challenges at Xavier, Northwestern, Illinois State and Lehigh, and were thoroughly beaten in each matchup. They will get 40 minutes of test, as VCU has played an incredibly deep bench this season that seems to have next to no letup. The Rams need that depth in Coach Shaka Smart’s havoc wreaking style of defense that currently ranks tops in the land in steals percentage at 18.6% of opponents possessions.
A quick look at Fairleigh Dickinson: FDU has struggled, mostly on the defensive end of the court. The Knights adjusted defensive efficiency is one of the worst in college hoops (342nd) largely in part to their inability to prevent teams from scoring in the paint. As a team FDU has a combined 50 steals this season. That’s nine more than Briante Weber has individually. Offensively the Knights have been just marginally better, ranking 231st in adjusted offensive efficiency. Their 66.4 points rank 206th in the land. Outlook, not good.
A quick look at VCU: The Rams have turned up the heat since last losing by three points to the 7th-ranked Missouri Tigers in the Bahamas over a month ago. Not only have they won games they were supposed to, for the most part, they have looked elite in doing so. Two games ago the Rams forced a ridiculous 32 turnovers against a Western Kentucky squad fresh off a 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance. They followed that performance up by forcing 25 turnovers against Longwood in their 93-56 win before the holiday break. VCU has forced 20 or more turnovers in seven games this season.
Tale of the Tape…
Scoring Offense: VCU 76.2 pts/game, FDU 66.4
Scoring Defense: VCU 59.1 points allowed, FDU 80.8
Field Goal%: VCU 45.2%, FDU 44.6%
Field Goal% Defense: VCU 42.3%, FDU 51.6%
3-Point Field Goal%: FDU 42.3%, VCU 37.2%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 29.7%, FDU 37.5%
Rebounding Margin: VCU +2, FDU -7.3
Turnover Margin: VCU +7.75, FDU -4.4
VCU wins if: They have access to the arena. Baring some “Saved by the Bell” style mishap that sees our Rams trapped in the boiler room before the game, VCU SHOULD use this one as another stat padder. FDU has yet to prove they can keep it close against solid competition, let alone win. Show up, play angry that these guys made you come back from holiday, and VCU heads to East Tennessee next week with 10 wins.
Fairleigh Dickinson wins if: Lonnie Robinson takes every shot, they are all from deep, and he hits at his season average of 56%. If there’s one thing FDU does fairleigh well, it’s hit the deep ball (42.3% as a team). Robinson is a 6’5 senior guard who has been deadly accurate on his 25 attempts this season. If he gets up 25 more of those and remains accurate, who knows, maybe FDU makes this one interest. But the numbers are very much against them.