We’re packing our suitcases today for the long trek to the University of Richmond. The Spiders host the Rams tomorrow night at 7:00 on the CBSSports Network. I will go via the Huguenot Bridge, but with such a long car ride, you may want to investigate a shorter route for your trip.
Of all the interesting newness to
this inaugural A10 experience, tomorrow’s game is undoubtedly the most
interesting. The Black and Blue Classic has always been an annual
December treat–basketball bragging rights fueled by schools with
differing profiles. Both are very good at what they do, and both carry a
rightful immense pride in their accomplishments–on and off the court.
has beget a high-respect basketball rivalry. Shaka Smart and Chris
Mooney “do it the right way,” so there’s extra pride and extra respect
that is juxtaposed with an incredible burning to win an important
basketball game. The overwhelming theme: you may be a good person, but for two hours we want to beat the marrow from your bones.
2011 NCAA tournament, in which the city was proclaimed Hoopstown USA,
will forever tie the schools inasmuch as the differing styles separate
them. That the schools are located six miles apart only adds to the
excitement. This rivalry has all the outlying parts to become fierce and fun. It is going to be interesting to see how once again being
conference mates will alter things, but I can tell you the run up to
tipoff feels more intense.
stakes are different–higher–than they were last December, the December before,
and different than any CAA conference game from 1997-2001. VCU has a Final Four that came from that 2011 tournament while Richmond made its way to the Sweet 16. (Note: see how respectful bragging works?) Both schools have put players in the NBA in the past few years.
The Rams are nationally ranked, and this
better conference plays a significant role. For their part, Richmond is no stranger to
ranked teams coming into the Robins Center in January. The Spiders have
won three of their last four games at home versus ranked teams–one in
January and two in February. Perhaps that’s what is fueling the fiery
in the heart of basketball season. There is one football game left to
play, the most bland and uninteresting sports contest imaginable. We’ve
reached passion season with basketball, and there’s a rematch that will
occur when both teams u-turn and head six miles back to Lombardi and
Broad. The passion ramps up from this point.
I think it’s all of that.
when you strip away the existential longing for additional meaning, you
find a highly-competitive basketball game that may turn out to be an
important road win for VCU. A 5-0 record with a home game next is a good
place to reside–warmth on a chilly January weekend.
Ken Pomeroy has VCU winning 73-64, giving the Rams a 79% chance of winning by any score.