Previewing confirmed non-conference home games
VCU home game announcements are slowly trickling in as Will Wade and the Rams’ coaching staff works on next year’s schedule. Below is a quick peek at some of the confirmed non-conference teams (more will be added) that will be heading to the Siegel Center next season (with last season’s final kenpom ranking).
The Bulldogs were last season’s Big South representative in the 2016 NCAA tournament, having breezed through the Big South tourney before being gifted a No.16 seed and a date with the eventual national champ in their first and only game. Prior to that matchup they had played one other Big East team that season, upsetting Georgetown on the road, 79-73. Coach Nicholas McDevitt’s squad buttered their bread with a havoc-wreaking defense that checked in 12th nationally in turnover percentage, six spots ahead of our VCU Rams. They defended the three well but could be torched inside and weren’t the best offensive unit by any stretch of the imagination. They’ll return several key pieces but just lost returning scorer, freshman Dylan Smith to transfer. Still, with so much returning talent the Dawgs could have a shot at being the top Big South squad once again, making them a sneaky-good home game for VCU and a potentially very smart RPI move.
Middle Tennessee State (No.112)
Ram fans will most likely remember the Blue Raiders for two reasons: 1) they provided VCU a solid road win last season in Murfreesboro and 2) they busted everyone’s bracket by knocking second-seeded Michigan State out of the tournament in the round of 64. The Rams won a hard-fought contest at MTSU last season 62-56 and should expect another battle in Richmond next season. The Blue Raiders were the 16th best three-point shooting team in the country last year and return the majority of their talent including the nation’s No.1 three-point shooter last season, Giddy Potts (50.3%). The knowledgable Ram fan looking for a great game next season will jump on single-game tickets to this one when they become available as MTSU is likely a top-100 RPI team next year.
Georgia Tech (No.49)
The Yellow Jackets handed VCU one of their most disappointing early losses last season, dropping the Rams 77-64 in Atlanta. Next year’s GT squad however should look almost nothing like that team, losing the majority of their production (all four double-digit scorers) and their head coach. They will however bring a revenge factor and an ACC brand to the Stu and that will most likely make this one of the hottest tickets at the Siegel Center next season.
Another smart scheduling move for the Rams, the Princeton Tigers will bring a VERY talented team to the Siegel Center next year, looking to bounce back from a loss against the last Virginia team they faced, an 86-81 overtime loss at Virginia Tech in this season’s NIT. Of the Tigers seven total losses last season, six were to kenpom top-100 teams, four against the top-50, five against the top-60. They return everyone…everyone, and will be a very challenging game for VCU. The Rams will be on upset alert making this one of the best games to see at the Siegel Center next season.
Louisiana Monroe (No.121)
Another 20-win team from last season, the Warhawks will head to Richmond with a very different looking squad from last year’s team. Keith Richard’s group loses three key contributors including leading scorer Majok Deng (18.4 ppg) so will have some retooling to do and could struggle against a VCU team that will catch them in a home game early in the season.
The Howard Bison will bring one of the nation’s worst offenses from last season to the Stu, but will do so with basically everyone from last year’s team. That consistency COULD bring with it some improvement but will most likely bring a repeat performance of some bad basketball. Every non-conference schedule includes a cupcake or two and on paper VCU should feast on Bison this upcoming November or December.