Game Preview: No.20 VCU v Davidson
VCU has climbed back into the national rankings at No.20 after stringing together a six-game winning streak that has included an average margin of victory of 19 points over their last five contests. Davidson on the other hand is looking to string together two in a row after having no problems with Richmond in their A-10 opener just a game after battling but eventually falling at UVA to snap a then seven-game win streak Bob McKillop’s squad had strung together themselves. The Rams are 6-3 against kenpom top-100 teams and will host No.45 Davidson who will be looking for their first top-100 win of the season. The Wildcats fell at the only two top-100s they’ve played this season, losing 90-72 at UNC then most recently falling 83-72 at UVA despite leading the Cavaliers at the half.
A QUICK LOOK AT DAVIDSON
The Wildcats are looking for their fourth consecutive 20-win season as they take a step up in weight class, joining the A-10 this season via the Southern Conference. So far, so good, as Bob McKillop and Co. are halfway there, breezing through most of their non-conference schedule, all-be-it the weakest OOC slate they have put together in a number of years. Davidson obliterated most of their out-of-conference schedule but fell by double-digits to the only two top-100 teams they’ve played this season. The Cats have buttered their bread with a dangerously efficient offense that ranks sixth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. They are top-20 nationally in 2-point and 3-point field goal percentage. What’s more, they have been really good at holding on to the ball, presenting a heck of a challenge for a Rams squad that ranks sixth nationally at turning teams over. The Wildcats are led by guard duo Tyler Kalinoski and Jack Gibbs. Both have been insanely good this season, ranking 1-2 in offensive rating in the Atlantic 10. Yes, their schedule has been questionable, but the type of stats these guys are posting are impressive no matter what the competition. And speaking of competition, Gibbs is coming off a 32-point performance in his first A-10 game (v Richmond). He also had 21 points on 7-10 shooting with four assists to just one turnover at UVA (the nation’s fifth-ranked defense). His partner-in-crime, Kalinsoki, dropped 20 points of his own on the Wahoos. As a team Davidson’s 72 against UVA was the most the Cavaliers had given up all season versus the 57 VCU scored against Tony Bennett’s squad in Richmond. More of the story? Davidson is really, really good. They aren’t perfect however and where they have struggled this season has been on the other side of the ball. The Wildcats adjusted defensive efficiency of 103.5 ranks 244th nationally out of 351 teams. They don’t turn teams over and will be taking on a VCU team that doesn’t turn the ball over anyway, so turnover margin could be a factor. They’ve also really struggled to defend the paint, allowing 51.3% shooting inside the 3-point line this season. UVA seemed to figure this out in the second half and was able to outscore the Wildcats 51-36 to finish the game, getting 45 of their 51 points in the second half either inside the arc or at the free throw line.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
VCU is coming off a sloppy but ultimately effective A-10-opening win at Fordham. The Rams played one of their uglier games of the season, connecting on just 46.7% of their free throw attempts (let’s be real, I could shoot better than that) and turning the ball over 17 times, not to mention got out-rebounded by 9. But that’s the beauty of this team. Despite those miserable numbers the black and gold were able to pull off a 17-point road win. That type of stuff just didn’t happen with previous VCU teams. This team was able to make up for those bad stats with some good ones, like 28 forced Fordham turnovers…28!!! VCU also held Fordham to just 35.1% shooting from the field including a 17.4% mark from deep (4-23). Playing a team like Fordham certainly helps with that but the Rams have proven an ability to bury teams time and time again this season. The Rams have played just two teams ranked below 200 by kenpom this season with an average margin of victory of 28.5 points. They have beaten all five sub-100 teams by an average margin of 23.4 points. They have hammered the cupcakes just as hard as the Wildcats but boast six top-100 wins as well.
Scoring Offense: Davidson 85.6, VCU 76.3
Scoring Defense: VCU 66.3, Davidson 70.4
Effective Field Goal% Offense: Davidson 57.2%, VCU 51.8%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 50.8%, Davidson 48%
3-Point Field Goal%: Davidson 39.7%, VCU 36.2%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: Davidson 27.2%, VCU 36.6%
Rebounds per game: Davidson 39.8, VCU 35
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 26.1%, Davidson 15.5%
Turnover Percentage Offense: Davidson 14.7%, VCU 15.6%
VCU WINS IF
The Rams have to figure out a way to slow down this Davidson offense if they want to pick up their third top-50 kenpom win of the season. VCU’s guard have got to do one of their best jobs of the season of communicating and rotating or Gibbs and Kolinoski can straight up embarrass them. And while they are the only guys I’ve mentioned they are far from a two-man show. Top to bottom this Wildcat offense is straight up surgical in how they carve up opposing defenses. Of their nine players averaging at least 10 minutes per contest, six…SIX are shooting over 50% from the field on the season while five are shooting over 40% from deep. Davidson has all the makings of a March nightmare for an opposing high seed as they excel at what basketball is all about: putting the ball in the hoop. VCU can be their first big kill of the season if the Rams can’t turn the Wildcats over and lock down in the halfcourt on D.
DAVIDSON WINS IF
See above. Davidson has been one of the best offensive teams in the country this season and are 10-2 because of it. The problem with the Cats is their defensive hasn’t been the best when they’ve needed it the most. Davidson allowed 90 points in a loss at UNC and 83 in a loss at UVA, the second most UVA has scored all season and the third most UNC has scored. VCU has plenty of weapons and can certainly win in a shootout against the Wildcats. The Wildcats need to figure out a way to slow down this VCU offense in what will be one of the toughest environments the Wildcats have played in all season while continuing to hit the shots they’ve been able to connect on up to this point in their 2014-15 journey. Oh, and don’t the ball over 28 times like Fordham.
Kenpom: 88-78 VCU win with an 80% chance of a VCU victory.
Vegas: VCU a 8-point favorite at the time of this post.
Game tips at 7PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA
Watch: MASN, 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