The black and gold look for their first top-100 win since taking down UVA two months ago in Charlottesville. Like that game, the Rams will once again hit the road and attempt to gut out a win in front of an expected 13,000-plus fans, fans hungry for a big win after their Dayton Flyers just dropped a road game to another Richmond team, a 73-64 “L” in the West End this past weekend to the UofR Spiders.
VCU (14-4, 2-1)
DAYTON (13-5, 1-2)
A QUICK LOOK AT DAYTON
The Flyers are every bit of the tough opponent VCU escaped in the Siegel Center last season and then some. Boasting neutral court wins over the likes of Gonzaga and Cal, as well as a tough road victory at Ol Miss, Dayton is an incredibly capable squad under third-year head coach Archie Miller. They’re led by Ohio State transfer, Jordan Sibert, who’s 12.1 points per game and 45.8% three-point percentage make him a dangerous scoring option in his first eligible season of Atlantic 10 play. The Flyers have two other players averaging double-digit scoring in the talented 6’6 sophomore, Dyshawn Pierre (11.8 ppg), as well as 6’7 senior big Devin Oliver (11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg), but use a balanced attack — nine players currently average double-digit minutes — to fill up the stat sheet in the A-10’s third highest scoring offense. The Flyers boast the nation’s 28th most efficient offense, connecting on 51.9% of their two-point attempts and 38.2% of their three-point attempts this season. Scared yet? As good of a start as they have seen this season, they’ve also been somewhat inconsistent. The Flyers needed a game-winning buzzer-beater to open the season with a one-point home win over IPFW, lost to an Illinois State squad that VCU beat by 38 and fell at home in an OT disappointment to a mediocre USC squad (former Ram, DJ Haley, scored nine points in that game). That same inconsistency plagued the Flyers all last season en route to a 17-14 finish. One area they are very consistent in however is fan support. Despite an up and down season in 2012-13, Dayton finished 26th nationally in attendance at 12,438, ahead of the likes of Michigan (who was ranked No.1 at one point last season before finishing as national runner-up), Florida, UConn…you get the point. This season they lead the A-10 with a 12,054 average, currently ahead of the second-place VCU Rams who check in with some 4,313 fewer fans at 7741 per game (in fairness, VCU is limited by seating capacity, and have sold out every game since the later part of the 2010-2011 season).
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
VCU’s most recent win over Duquesne almost sums up the squad thus far: inconsistent, but in the end have more often than not been deadly. VCU trailed one of the worst teams in the A-10 by four at the half in a home game, then caught fire and before you knew it we were all watching Emerson Burke fight for rebounds. Unfortunately for the black and gold one place VCU has been consistent has been in losing to good teams. The Rams are 1-4 against kenpom top-100 squads this season, 1-2 in true road games and have shot in the range of 29%-37% on offense while giving up 53.1%-56.2% shooting in the four top-100 losses. VCU is no longer in a weaker CAA however, so will have a number of opportunities to raise their RPI while picking up those top-100 wins to pad their tournament hopeful resume. Wins at Dayton and La Salle over this two-game road trip would be a nice start to that process.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: DAY 76.1, VCU 75.3
Scoring Defense: VCU 64.9, DAY 67.2
Effective Field Goal% Offense: 54.5%, 48%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: DAY 47.7%, 48.3%
3-Point Field Goal%: DAY 38.2%, VCU 34.8%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 29.7%, DAY 31.3%
Rebounds per game: DAY 36.2, VCU 36
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 28.1%, DAY 19.7%
Turnover Percentage Offense: VCU 17.5%, DAY 18.2%
VCU WINS IF
The Rams will need a special defensive effort to get out of Dayton, Ohio with a win. On paper this is the toughest test the VCU defense will have faced all season, and in front of 13,000 fans no less, so a sloppy halfcourt effort and the black and gold can count on a 2-2 start to A-10 play. On offense VCU could use a quicker start out of leading scorer Treveon Graham to help take those fans out of it while boosting VCU’s overall shooting percentage. Ram fans call Graham the “freight train” but like a freight train, it often takes him a while to get up to speed. Graham is shooting 8.2% better in second halves than first halves this season and has scored 65 second half points to 18 first half points against kenpom top-100 squads. He averaged 2.25 first half points in VCU’s four top-100 losses while scoring nine first half points in the Rams lone top-100 win.
DAYTON WINS IF
On paper the Flyers should be able to get their points. Dayton’s 51.9% two-point shooting (61st nationally) versus VCU’s 50.1% two-point defense (221st nationally) looks like one of those M&Mers the Rams don’t want to see. But if the Flyers allow VCU to trade buckets the cumulative effect of havoc may haunt them in the second half. That said, Dayton is a team that has only gotten stronger throughout games this season, averaging 4.6 more points in second halves that first halves this season, so another ironman like effort from a deep Flyers squad may prove kryptonite to VCU’s Superman press.
Kenpom.com: 72-70 Dayton win with a 43% chance of a VCU victory.
Where: University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, OH.
Watch: CBS Sports Network. Official watch parties at Baja Bean Co. in the Fan as well as Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation