Well look who it is. VCU and Richmond will tip it up for the third time this season, this time for a chance to advanced to the Atlantic 10 semifinals in this year’s A-10 tournament. The Rams won both previous meetings, first in a 81-70 home win, then most recently by escaping Richmond at the Robins Center, 56-50. Winner will advance to play the winner of UMass and George Washington en route to what all will hope to be an Atlantic 10 title. VCU is basically assured an NCAA tournament bid regardless of today’s or this tournament’s outcome, while Richmond will be playing for their postseason lives. Guard your grills, tuck your chains in, it’s about to go down in Brooklyn, NY!
VCU (24-7, 12-4)
Richmond (19-13, 8-8)
A QUICK LOOK AT RICHMOND
The Spiders have been a good, but inconsistent team this year under head coach Chris Mooney. Prior to last night’s domination of Duquesne — their second such performance against the Dukes — Richmond had lost four consecutive contests include road games at George Mason, Rhode Island and Dayton as well as the home loss to the Rams. They boast wins over St. Joseph’s and UMass but did so prior to senior leading scorer, Cedrick Lindsay, going down to a career ending knee injury. Since losing Lindsay and fellow senior Derrick Williams, who left the team for personal reasons, the Spiders have gone 0-3 against the top half of the conference, losing twice at home and once on the road. They nearly upset the Rams however in a game they shot just 31.6% in. Offensive struggles have limited Richmond’s ceiling all season. The Spiders rank 10th in the conference in offensive efficiency and have the 11th-ranked effective field goal percentage in the A-10. What they have done really good on offense — perhaps a reason they’ve been so competitive with VCU — is hold on to the ball. UofR’s 15.7% offensive turnover percentage against A-10 teams ranks No.1 in the Atlantic 10.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
The Rams return to the Barclays Center for their second game in Brooklyn this season, previously blowing out Boston College in the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Festival held at Barclays this past December. VCU comes into this one riding a four-game winning streak that includes that tough road win at Richmond as well as a home win over top-seed Saint Louis. The black and gold have outshot Richmond 42.9% to 38.2% head-to-head this season, have out-rebounded Richmond 73-69, and hold a +2 turnover advantage (surprisingly low) against the Spiders in their two prior games. Treveon Graham has been the driving force in VCU’s most recent wins, averaging 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds over his last three contests. Graham is averaging 15.5 and nine rebounds in his two games against the Spiders this season.
Scoring Offense: VCU 75.6, UofR 66.7
Scoring Defense: UofR 65, VCU 65.5
Effective Field Goal% Offense: UofR 48.3%, VCU 47.9%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: UofR 45.9%, VCU 47.5%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 34.7%, UofR 32%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: UofR 29.4%, VCU 29.8%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.5, UofR 32.7
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 26%, UofR 20%
Turnover Percentage Offense: UofR 16%, VCU 17.4%
VCU WINS IF
Havoc. The Rams will get Richmond 24 hours after the Spiders played Duquesne with essentially a seven-man roster (they got three minutes from Josh Jones). Ram fans will hope a well-rested havoc-wreaking squad can take advantage of that quick turnover and use a deeper bench to grind Richmond down. If VCU can hit shots early and add some mental pressure to the wear of two games in two days, the black and gold could pick up their third win over the Spiders this season…if. Getting the Spider bigs in foul trouble early like in the first game of the series would work wonders for the Rams. With shot-block sensation, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, rim protecting all night, it’s no wonder the Rams found it hard to score in their second meeting. Get the whistles early and celebrate late.
RICHMOND WINS IF
While VCU will come in rested, Richmond will come in experienced, all be it one game of Barclays Center 2014 A-10 tournament action. The Spiders have (in theory) gotten the early tournament jitters out of the way and come into tonight’s matchup ready to avenge two losses to the Rams, and when it matters most…when they are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. VCU punches a ticket regardless, Richmond most likely needs to win the auto-bid to dance. That is as good as a motivational factor as you could ask for, but that’s not to say VCU will come with a vacation mindset themselves. The Rams want to get back to the A-10 title, but unlike last season, win it. Outside of all the mental and motivational, Richmond will need to hit shots. The Spiders locked down on defense in their last meeting with the Rams but were unable to capitalize on offense. An accurate Kendall Anthony is a difference maker for UofR. Throw in another 27-point performance from big man Terry Allen like last night, and the Spiders are damn tough to beat.
Kenpom.com: 68-61 VCU win with an 78% chance of victory.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Watch: NBC 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