Game Preview: VCU v Davidson, A-10 Semifinals [INSIDER]

Melvin Johnson posted a team-high 19 points in the Rams win. He's expected to play in today's game despite tweaking an ankle.
Melvin Johnson posted a team-high 19 points in the Rams win. He’s expected to play in today’s game despite tweaking an ankle.

The VCU Rams and Davidson Wildcats will meet for the third time this season, this time in a win-or-go-home Atlantic 10 Semifinal matchup. The Rams won the previous two meetings, first at Davidson, then home at the Siegel Center just 10 day ago, the Rams winning both games by 10 points. VCU ended Davidson’s A-10 tournament last season and will hope to do the same today while punching a ticket to what would be the Rams’ fourth consecutive A-10 tournament final.

VCU (23-9)
DAVIDSON (20-11)

A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS

Davidson looks to play the role of Cinderella in this year’s A-10 tournament, upsetting fourth-seeded St. Bonaventure in a thrilling quarterfinal comeback that saw the Cats down 11 in the second half before rallying to send the game into overtime where they’d pull out the hard-fought win. It was the Wildcats second win in two days and their third in a row, having ended their regular season with a home win over George Washington to start their current streak. Leading scorer Jack Gibbs led the Wildcats with 29 in last night’s win and was joined by usual suspects Peyton Aldrige (17), Brian Sullivan (15) and Jordan Barham (13) as last night’s big four, the first three of which played over 40 minutes each just a night after logging 34+ from trio. Davidson has been very good offensively all season long but has struggled to defend. The Cats currently rank second in offensive efficiency among the 14 A-10 teams, two spots ahead of the Rams at the moment. Defensively however Bob McKillop’s crew checks in at 13th, a huge contributing factor to Davidson finishing outside of this year’s top-four despite heading into last year’s tournament as the No.1 seed.

A QUICK LOOK AT VCU

The Rams avenged a regular season loss at UMass by routing the Minutemen in last night’s quarterfinal game. VCU scored 85 on UMass despite going just 1-16 from the three-point line. That’s oddly both a positive sign and somewhat of a cause for concern, as the black and gold have hit just seven of their 50 three-point attempts over the last three games, which includes a 1-14 showing against the Wildcats the last time these two faced. The good news is VCU won two of those games and lost the other in overtime at top-seeded Dayton. IF the Rams can get the three falling again it could make for a fun March. The Rams have however been doing work in the paint, finishing 65.9% of their twos in their last meeting with the Wildcats and 50% in last night’s win over UMass. Defensively the Rams have given up more than 70 points just once in their last nine games and will need to do that again tonight against Davidson. The Rams appear to be healthy heading into tonight’s matchup but got a scare on VCU’s final play in last night’s win, seeing Melvin Johnson hit the floor in what turned out to be a tweaked ankle. He’s expected to play in today’s game.

TALE OF THE TAPE

Scoring Offense: DAV 80, VCU 77.3
Scoring Defense: VCU 67.1, DAV 77.9
Effective Field Goal% Offense: DAV 52.3%, VCU 50.9%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 48.7%, DAV 51.9%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 35.9%, DAV 35.7%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 34.3%, DAV 34.4%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.5, DAV 35.3
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 22.5%, DAV 16%
Turnover Percentage Offense: DAV 14%, VCU 16.5%

VCU WINS IF

I think if the Rams can limit Davidson’s threes they most likely win this game. The Cats have struggled to defend inside the arc all season long, ranking 301st nationally in two-point defense, so the odds would favor the Rams if these two were to make this one a battle inside the arc, even with Davidson ranking 66th nationally in two-point offense. Limit the Wildcats threes and second chance points while attacking the basket on offense and the Rams could have a shot to defend their A-10 tournament title on Sunday night.

DAVIDSON WINS IF

If the threes rain in Brooklyn. The Cats haven’t been quite the three-point shooting team they were last season but can still heat up quick. 36.2% of Davidson’s points come from long range, making them the 31st most dependent team on the three in all of college basketball. If those threes aren’t falling however things get challenging, so the Wildcats will most likely need to hit them tonight to advance.

Kenpom: 81-75 VCU win with an 71% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 4PM at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

Watch: CBS Sports Network, Official watch parties at Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Listen: 107.3FM
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation

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