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Game Preview: VCU v Fordham

VCU welcomes Fordham back to the Siegel Center after last season's 16-point home win.
VCU welcomes Fordham back to the Siegel Center after last season’s 16-point home win.

VCU begins a three-game home series Wednesday night against Fordham after two impressive road victories last week. The Rams throttled Dayton in front of over 12,000 UD fans, then gutted out a double-overtime thriller against the A-10’s Sweet 16 representative from last season, the La Salle Explorers.

VCU (16-4, 4-1)
FORDHAM (8-11, 1-5)

A QUICK LOOK AT FORDHAM

Despite their sub-.500 start to the season, Fordham is actually a game up over last season’s seven total wins. The Tom Pecora led Rams have done so with the help of high-scoring freshman, Jon Severe. Not only are Severe’s 20.2 points per game tops in the A-10, but they are tops in the land among his fellow freshmen athletes. Severe joins returning leading scorer Branden Frazier (17.8ppg) as a high-scoring backcourt duo with a total of 19 20-plus point performances combined. Moral of the story: dudes can score. But despite the backcourt’s ability to put the ball in the basket, the Rams are just the A-10’s seventh highest scoring offense and rank dead last in the conference in offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage. One positive toward this match however is in their ability to hold on to the ball. Fordham has been the best offensive when it comes to not turning it over in Atlantic 10 play. But that’s basically where the positive end. The Rams adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 272nd nationally due largely in part to their inability to protect the paint, giving up 51.6% shooting inside the arc to opposing teams (284th nationally).

A QUICK LOOK AT VCU

VCU added two big road wins to their NCAA tournament resume, first dominating Dayton in Ohio, then in a 15-rounder in Philly, outlasting La Salle in double overtime. The difference in those road wins? Big time players making big time plays. The Rams’ two A-10 First-Teamers, Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham, combined to average 46.5 points and 20 rebounds in those two games for VCU. When those two are playing at that level VCU will be damn hard to beat. The negative? An old demon revisited the Rams. The black and gold has struggled to defend the paint at times, and did just that Saturday, giving up 44 second half points to La Salle and 70.4%…70.4%!!!! shooting to finish regulation. That should never happen. But back to the positive, VCU still won that game, and they did so despite only 16 La Salle turnovers in a double overtime game. The Rams have won good road games ugly (at UVA) and in a higher scoring affair (at La Salle). If they can continue that road success at home they’ll be 7-1 in A-10 play before heading back to Philly to take on St. Joe’s.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Scoring Offense: VCU 76.7, FOR 73.7
Scoring Defense: VCU 66.2, FOR 77.7
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 48.6%, FOR 45.6%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 48.7%, FOR 50.8%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 35.1%, FOR 31.8%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 30.7%, FOR 32.8%
Rebounds per game: FOR 37.8, VCU 36.3
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 27.5%, FOR 17.6%
Turnover Percentage Offense: FOR 15.8%, VCU 17.3%

VCU WINS IF

VCU needs to be all Jackson Pollock and make this game all about the paint. Fordham is one of the worst teams in the country at scoring inside the arc (318th nationally) while giving up 51.6% shooting inside the arc on the other side of the floor. Those are coincidentally two areas the VCU Rams have struggled at as well. If the Rams can get off nice controlled shots on offense while keeping Severe and Frazier out of the lane on the other end of the floor, it should be a very long night for Fordham. Tom Pecora’s squad has lost their last two road games (at SLU & UMass) by an average of 30 points per contest. Can VCU keep pace with those 2013-14 A-10 standouts?

FORDHAM WINS IF

They play like they did in the second half of their game at Syracuse. Make no mistake, VCU will be a huge favorite in this game, but we all know anything is possible in college hoops. The Fordham Rams have a number of terrible losses this season — home loss to No.291 Sacred Heart by 12, away at No.229 Monmouth in particular —  but they did manage to outscore the nation’s No.2 team, undefeated Syracuse, in one half of play (53-43) in a road game in front of 22,000-plus fans. Granted, the Orange were up 25 at half so that was a bit of a bench-dumper, but that’s still a bench full of 4 and 5-star players getting it put on them by Fordham in a home game. If VCU respects their opponent and treats this game like any other game against the top of the A-10, they will roll. If not, they may end up trailing at the half like they did against Duquesne just three games ago.

PREDICTIONS

Kenpom.com: 87-68 VCU win with a 95% chance of victory.

When: 7PM
Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center, Richmond, VA.
Watch: CBS 6.3 (Comcast 206, Verizon Fios 466). 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.
Listen: 107.3FM
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation

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VCU School of the Arts (BFA '07) and Center for Sport Leadership (M.Ed. '10) alumnus, Mat has followed VCU basketball since the Sunbelt days when he'd attend games with his father. Worked as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department for the '09-'10 season, but has covered VCU basketball for VCURamNation.com since 2007.

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