Ram fans will honor seniors Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic while the black and gold try and secure a first round Atlantic 10 tournament bye by beating St. Bonaventure today. It’s the last Siegel Center game the two will ever play as VCU has assured themselves an NCAA tournament bid by handling their business this season against a very challenging schedule. The Rams are the 14th ranked team in the RPI and a fourth consecutive tournament appearance will make Reddic and Brandenberg the first VCU players to ever accomplish such a feet. But while the Rams will look forward to hanging another NCAA banner on the wall this offseason, they are still very much focused on the regular season, and that means finishing off stong with a win against the Bonnies today.
VCU (23-7, 11-4)
St. BONAVENTURE (16-13, 6-9)
A QUICK LOOK AT ST. BONAVENTURE
SBU was picked to finish 10th in the A-10 preseason polls but at 8th have been a pesky team all season. They boast double digit wins over the likes of Richmond, UMass and La Salle (three teams that gave VCU trouble) and have been competitive in all of their losses, never losing an A-10 game by double digits. After a three-game winning streak against the bottom of the conference (Fordham, Mason, Duquesne) they’ve lost three straight including two home losses. The Bonnies are 2-5 on the road this season but have yet to face an atmosphere like the one they’ll see in tonight’s whited out senior night. The Bonnies are the third highest scoring A-10 team on the season at 74.2 points per game but rank tops in conference only offensive efficiency. They’ll take on the No.1 defensive efficiency team in VCU today for the first time since falling at home to the Rams last season. Seven SBU players are averaging over eight points per game including three in double digits: 7′ defensive standout Youssou Ndoye (10 ppg), senior guard Charlon Kloof (11.6 ppg) and leading scorer, senior guard Matthew Wright (16.5 ppg). Wright is a high volume shooter in his 34.5 minutes per game and loves the three ball. He’s taken at least eight of those in the Bonnies last three contests and has connected on 34.7% of them this season. Wright is heavily relied on by head coach Mark Schmidt and has played all 40 minutes in three of the Bonnies last four contests. Kloof has been almost as equally involved and is the Bonnies leading assist man at 4.9 dimes per game. His 27.4 assist rate ranks forth among active A-10 players. Ndoye is the third biggest offensive threat of that group but has proven to be one of the A-10’s premier defensive players this season. His 9.74% blocks percentage leads the conference and he has at least three blocks in nine of SBU’s 17 conference games this season. SBU’s range on both offense and defense has been their biggest weakness this season. They rank 263rd nationally in three-point percentage (32.3%) while allowing teams to shoot 35.8% against them, good for 249th nationally.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
VCU’s poor shooting nearly did them in in a road game just two nights ago at UofR. The A-10’s top-rated defense bailed them out however, and VCU pulled off the comeback win, 56-50. That inability to consistently hit shots has been VCU’s biggest achilles heel but was never more apparent than when VCU had scored just eight points over the first 13:51 of play against the Spiders. The Rams proved just how tough they are to beat however by making up for their lack of offense with a lockdown defense in a gutsy road win. One player who didn’t struggle to score was Treveon Graham. Graham connected on six of his 11 attempts to lead VCU with 18 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in the win. The effort was Graham’s best shooting performance since VCU downed GW at the Siegel Center, coincidentally the junior’s last double-double night as well. VCU point guards Briante Weber and JeQuan Lewis found themselves in foul trouble, leaving a combination of Rob Brandenber and Treveon Graham to handle a small bit of those duties late. The win marked the Rams third consecutive victory and moved VCU to an even 4-4 in A-10 road games this season. The Rams have yet to lose at home this season and a win against SBU would make VCU the only A-10 team to have not dropped a home game this year.
Scoring Offense: VCU 75.2, SBU 74.2
Scoring Defense: VCU 65.5, SBU 69.7
Effective Field Goal% Offense: SBU 50%, VCU 47.5%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 47.5%, SBU 49.9%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 34.7%, SBU 32.3%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 29.4%, SBU 35.8%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.8, SBU 35.7
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 25.8%, SBU 21.7%
Turnover Percentage Offense: VCU 17.3%, SBU 18.8%
VCU WINS IF
VCU is usually pretty dialed in at the Siegel Center so first and foremost the black and gold need to try and get the senior night buzz out of their heads as close to the opening tip as possible. While the focus will be on Rob Brandenberg and Juvonte Reddic the black and gold need a team win to take down a very capable Bonnies squad, so must avoid forcing plays through Reddic and Brandenberg. Once that’s out of the way the Rams will have their work cutout for them in attacking the basket as they have loved to do all season, as the 7′ Senegalese Ndoye is one of the conference’s premier rim protectors with 65 blocked shots this season. Where SBU has struggled on D is in defending the arc, and that’s where the Rams could make them pay. If VCU can get a few big threes, particularly early in the game, they could awaken “The Animal”, and once the Siegel Center gets to rocking, things tend to get away from the opposition. SBU’s 208th-ranked offensive turnover percentage could facilitate in that as well.
SBU WINS IF
St. Bonaventure is a very capable offensive team that connects on 50.5% of their two-point attempts. They also attack the glass on offense. VCU has struggled defending the paint at times this season, and if they fail to do so or allow SBU to attack the offensive glass as effectively as they have done so far this season, that could reduce the attempts advantage VCU usually creates through turnovers. VCU may not be able to afford another poor shooting night against an SBU team who knows how to put the ball in the hoop.
Kenpom.com: 78-67 VCU win with an 86% chance of victory.
Vegas: VCU 10-point favorite to win.
Where: The Stuart C. Siegel Center, Richmond, VA.
Watch: SNY. 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