VCU makes their Siegel Center appearance for the second time in three days against a Maryland Eastern Shore team who’s coming off 40 minutes of basketball just last night. The black and gold have two impressive wins already this season, the first coming in dominating fashion against a rebuilt but talented Tennessee Vols squad, the second a Tuesday night battle against a highly underrated Toledo Rockets team that should help boost VCU’s RPI all season. UMES is coming off a Wednesday night win against a Mount St. Mary’s team coached by former VCU assistant, Jamion Christian, the Hawks first win of the season. They’ll have almost next to no time to prepare for the hostile environment that awaits them tonight.
#15 VCU (2-0)
A QUICK LOOK AT MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE
The Hawks of UMES head into the season as the preseason No.11 pick out of the MEAC conference, trying to rebuild from a rough 6-24 season that included a home loss to DII Wilmington University (not to be confused with UNCW). UMES is an experienced squad led by seniors Devin Martin (11 ppg) and Devon Walker (6.3) ppg as well as 6’9 junior forward Mike Myers (10 ppg, 6.7 rpg). They are the lowest rated team (Kenpom No.344) VCU will most likely play all season (no other team ranked below 200) and have started the season as one of the three worst offensive teams in the country with an adjusted offensive efficiency rating of 90.3 (349th nationally). But here’s what should have Hawks fans worried the most: They are turning the ball over on 28.9% of their possessions and will play VCU on the road after playing a game last night.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
We’re only two games in but so far VCU has really looked dynamite on offense. Coach Smart’s 2014-15 bombers have averaged 86 points per game against two good teams and have increased the offensive production across the board despite having to replace double-digit scorers Juvonte Reddic and Rob Brandenberg. The Rams have yet to play a game with a full roster, going without Briante Weber in a domination of Tennessee, then without JeQuan Lewis Tuesday night against Toledo, but have had the No.17 ranked offense in college hoops regardless. On defense the Rams have one again given up a high percentage of scoring inside the paint, yet have a highly ranked D overall (22nd nationally) based on their ability to turn teams over 26.4% of their possessions including 21 turnovers forced against a Toledo squad that was one of the best at holding on to the ball last season.
Scoring Offense: VCU 86, UMES 47.7
Scoring Defense: UMES 64.3, VCU 73.5
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 51.2%, UMES 40.3%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 51.4%, UMES 53.1%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 37%, UMES 29.6%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: UMES 32.8%, VCU 34.3%
Rebounds per game: VCU 41.5, UMES 31.7
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 26.4%, UMES 17.2%
Turnover Percentage Offense: VCU 20.5%, UMES 28.9%
VCU WINS IF
Obviously crazy things happens in sports but the honest answer to this question is: “shows up”. The reality is this is one of those matchups on paper where it shouldn’t be about whether or not VCU wins, but how they look in doing so. So here’s what I’d like to see happen in this game: 1) I’d like to see more offense from VCU’s bigs. The reality is it doesn’t matter where you are getting your points from but how many points your team is getting, which is what Coach Smart essentially said to me in the post-game presser following the Rams win against Toledo. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a confidence building night from the five spot for future nights when the threes aren’t falling. I’d also love to see VCU’s freshman class get the confidence building minutes that will make them a nightmare come March. I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a class anywhere close to being this talented at the start of their careers (although VCU’s huge 2007 class that consisted of Sanders, Nixon, Rodriguez and Rozzell proved to finish the strongest) so if those guys can take a step toward their potential a game before VCU takes on No.12 Villanova next week in Brooklyn, the Rams will be in good shape.
UMES WINS IF
They hold on to the ball and shoot the hell out of the three. The Hawks have everything working against them in this one so if I’m them I’m playing zone the entire game, hoping VCU misses everything on offense, and praying for a hot hand out of three of my guards. UMES hit a very good 41.2% of their threes in last night’s win but that only resulted in a total of seven makes. They’ll need to add about ten more of those to escape the Siegel Center with a win.
Kenpom.com: 80-54 VCU win with a 99% chance of victory.
Where: The Stuart C Siegel Center, Richmond, VA.
Watch: CBS 6.3. 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