The Rams (x2) begin Atlantic 10 play when VCU takes on Fordham at historic Rose Hill Gymnasium in the Bronx this afternoon. The VCU Rams are winners of their past five games while the Fordham Rams have won their last two and will be rejoined by sophomore guard, Jon Severe, who left the team in late November after a disappointing start to the promising young guard’s sophomore season. VCU is 2-1 in true road games this season, all of which were played against top-100 teams. Fordham on the other hand is 5-2 at home but have no wins over a team ranked in kenpom’s top-200 and have two home losses to sub-230 teams.
A QUICK LOOK AT FORDHAM
Fordham is looking to avoid the A-10 cellar for the first time under fifth-year head coach, Tom Pecora. The Rams have double-digit wins in just two of Pecora’s seasons in the Bronx (10 both times) and have become a perennial cellar dweller in the conference. Of Fordham’s five wins only four are against DI competition and even those four are questionable. The Rams defeated Siena (No.231) by two, outlasted Monmouth in overtime and took down two sub-300 teams with relative ease. They have three sub-200 losses however including a six-point home loss to a Maryland Eastern Shore team that VCU beat by 40. Offensively Fordham has been quite miserable on defensively they haven’t been much better. The Rams rank 257th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and have been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the country, hitting just 27.9% of their threes as a team this season. On defense they’ve actually given up 0.1 less points than VCU per contest this season but against a much weaker schedule and rank 221st nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency to VCU’s 51st ranked D. Jon Severe will reportedly return to the Rams today but after leaving the team once this season after receiving little playing time there’s no way to tell how many minutes he’ll get today if he’ll even play at all. Severe was somewhat highly recruited out of high school and averaged 17.3 points as a freshman but did so on over 15 attempts per game (33.1% shooting…not the best).
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
The black and gold have won their last five contests including a road domination over No.42 Cleveland State and an OT home win over nationally-ranked Norther Iowa. VCU has three wins over top-200 wins (two being top-150) in that batch and have held their last four opponents to just over 55 points per contest for an average margin of victory of about 20 points per game. Senior Treveon Graham and junior Melvin Johnson have led the Rams on offense and are the only two Rams averaging double-digit scoring on VCU’s dangerously deep roster. 10 of VCU’s 13 active roster members have offensive ratings of 100 or higher (hint: that’s very good) including all five of VCU’s usual starters. The highest usage Ram who doesn’t is sophomore JeQuan Lewis who was shaken up early this season with a scary concussion that he suffered during the Rams regular season opener against Tennessee. Lewis appears to be gaining speed as of late however, posting 100+ ratings in two of his last four contests as well as a 98 rating in VCU’s last game against Cleveland State.
Scoring Offense: VCU 76.4, Fordham 65.1
Scoring Defense: Fordham 66.8, VCU 66.9
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 51.5%, Fordham 46.6%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 49.3%, Fordham 51.8%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 36.5%, Fordham 27.9%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: Fordham 34.5%, VCU 38.3%
Rebounds per game: Fordham 38.9, VCU 35.2
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 25.3%, Fordham 19.8%
Turnover Percentage Offense: VCU 15.1%, Fordham 25.8%
VCU WINS IF
You see that turnover percentage offense number for Fordham right above? That ranks 343rd nationally out of 351 teams. That is a number VCU dreams about and is Fordham’s biggest nightmare against this VCU squad. If VCU can put the ball in the hoop like they’ve done during this little winning streak and turn Fordham over as they should, it could be a nice homecoming for Bronx natives Melvin Johnson and Terry Larrier this afternoon.
FORDHAM WINS IF
See above. Fordham has to have their best game of the season in terms of holding on to the ball or this one could get out of hand early. After that, they need to hit threes better than they have all season as the 329th-ranked three-point shooting team in the country. Statistically I just don’t know how Fordham pulls this one off but this is college basketball and crazier things have happened. Fordham’s best bet is to TRY and slow this game down to a snails pace and hope for the best.
Kenpom: 76-63 VCU win with a 90% chance of a VCU victory.
Vegas: VCU a 14.5-point favorite
Game tips at 1PM at Rose Hill Gymnasium in the 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