VCU heads to the Bronx tonight looking to complete a season sweep of the Fordham Rams after a January 29 76-60 win at the Siegel Center. A victory at the historic Rose Hill Gymnasium would keep VCU among the conference’s top four teams, crucial in VCU’s run at a first round Atlantic 10 tournament bye. It would also break the black and gold’s current two-game losing streak and give VCU their first road win since defeating La Salle in double overtime just over a month ago.
VCU (20-7, 8-4)
Fordham (9-16, 2-10)
A QUICK LOOK AT FORDHAM
Fordham has lost their last four contests including a home L against St. Bonaventure in their last home game and lost all four of those games by double digits. At 2-10 they now sit dead last among the conference’s 13 teams and have lost three of their five home games this season, the two wins coming against fellow A-10 bottom feeders, George Mason and Rhode Island (both at 3-10 in league play). Outside of freshmen guard John Severe’s impressive scoring, Fordham hasn’t had much to brag about on either side of the ball. They rank 305th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and check in at 323rd in effective field goal percentage on offense. They have struggled to defend, giving up a league-worst 78.8 points per game and have had a very hard time putting the ball in the basket on offense. What they have been fairly good at however is holding on to the ball, turning it over just 16.8% of their possessions, which ranks 68th nationally.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
The black and gold Rams have lost three of their last four, but all coming in tough road games against teams currently in the top four of the conference, and by an average margin of defeat of 4.6 points no less. Their lone win was a 92-75 home blowout of a GW squad fighting for an NCAA tournament bid. Long story short, VCU has played a very challenging schedule having come up just short in three straight road games against very good opponents in front of three-straight sellout crowds (an average of 8,110 fans for those keeping score at home). VCU shot over 40% in just one of those games, 41.7% in a losing effort at St. Joe’s. And it’s that inability to consistently put the ball in the hoop (47.7% EFG%, 257th nationally) that has kept the Rams from being a truly great team this season.
Scoring Offense: VCU 75.9, FOR 72.8
Scoring Defense: VCU 66.4, FOR 78.8
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 47.7%, FOR 45.8%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 48.2%, FOR 52.4%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 34.6%, FOR 31.8%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU29.7%, FOR 34.2%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.2, FOR 37
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 26.1%, FOR 18%
Turnover Percentage Offense: FOR 16.8%, VCU 17.2%
VCU WINS IF
The Rams jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead the last two times these teams met by hitting 7-of-16 shots from deep, scoring 13 points from the free throw stripe, forcing nine turnovers and out-rebounding Fordham by 9. The black and gold played their starters in limited minutes in the second half and were able to cruise to an easy win despite shooting just 33.8% from the field on the game. If VCU can do all the little things again — win the rebounding battle, force turnovers, defend in the halfcourt — odds are they cruise to their 21st victory of the season.
FORDHAM WINS IF
Fordham was able to limit VCU from the field in their last meeting but racked up a ton of fouls in the process and were outscored by 14 at the free throw stripe (in a 16-point game no less….difference maker). If they can cut down on the turnovers in front of their home crowd and keep VCU out of the lane, forcing the black and gold to connect on the deep ball, they have a chance to even out those numbers and keep the game close for a possible upset. Hitting more than 50% of their free throws would work wonders this time as well (9-18 in their previous loss).
Kenpom.com: 83-72 VCU win with an 84% chance of a VCU victory.
Vegas: VCU 11-point favorite to win.
Where: Rose Hill Gym, Bronx, NY.
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