The Rams dropped a neutral court opportunity at a power five team with VCU’s letdown against Illinois, but has a chance for a bounce-back win over an ACC opponent tonight when Georgia Tech visits the Siegel Center. It wasn’t that long ago when the idea of an ACC team visiting VCU was a far-fetched one and now not only has that become a reoccurring reality, but the Rams will enter tonight’s game as a considerable favorite as well.
GEORGIA TECH (4-3)
A QUICK LOOK AT GEORGIA TECH
Just over a year ago the Yellowjackets welcome VCU to Atlanta where they went on to hammer the black and gold in a 13-point GT win. While this year’s group has several pieces from that group, much has changed including a coaching change with new head coach and former Memphis head honcho, Josh Pastner. Four key seniors are gone from last season’s team as well including starters Adam Smith, Charles Mitchell, Marcus Georges-Hunt and Nick Jacobs who combined for 47 of GT’s 77 points in last year’s game. Needless to say, like most teams replacing an experienced group, GT has been a bit slow out the gate. The Yellowjackts four wins have all come at home with three coming against teams ranked 250th or worse by kenpom, GT’s best victory coming against No.166 Sam Houston State by single-digits. Pastner’s group is 0-3 against the top-100 including back-to-back road losses heading into the Stu tonight, the last of which was a brutal 23-point loss at No.86 Tennessee. Tech has been a solid defensive team thus far but has had next to no offense thanks to a turnover-prone team that ranks 274th nationally in turnover offense and 261st in effective field goal percentage. While the Yellowjackets have some size on the roster they tend to play just two players with length, 6’9 senior Quinton Staples and 6’10 junior Ben Lammers. Lammers is the one to watch of the two, an efficient scorer and rebounder who could give the Rams trouble tonight. While the Yellowjackets have been an accurate three-point shooting team they rarely opt for the three-ball, ranking 343rd nationally out of 351 teams in three-pointers attempted. What should scare VCU the most about this team is GT’s ability to block shots and defend the two-point bucket. The Rams have struggled when they can’t get things going down low, relying heavily on the point-blank shots to earn wins. GT ranks fourth nationally in blocked shots and is allowing teams to shoot just 43.9% inside the arc, albeit against a schedule that has been favorable for both stats.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
The Rams got a classic “wakeup call” when getting hammered by Illinois in Miami this past weekend. VCU’s 46 points scored was the lowest output for a black and gold team in over a decade with the Rams’ 14 two-point makes checking in as a season-low to match an abysmal 2-18 three-point performance that was ice cold in the home of the Miami Heat. Senior leading-scorer JeQuan Lewis was just 1-9, his three points matching his output in the Rams surprising loss at George Mason last season. Needless to say head coach Will Wade wasn’t exactly pleased with the team’s performance, saying the Rams were soft and were essentially lured into a one-on-one type of game due to “chirping” on the court that got VCU from playing a team game. No doubt the offensive numbers match that but one promising sign in the loss was a defense that has for the most part been consistent all season long, checking in 29th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. The unfortunately consistent areas for VCU this year however have been a turnover-prone offense, poor offensive rebounding and an inability to avoid foul trouble. VCU turned the ball over 14 times against the Illini and picked up 21 fouls on the afternoon. The Rams have been a decent three-point shooting team but don’t shoot many, checking in at 270th nationally in three-point shots attempted. Their inability to hit the longball in Miami’s NBA arena helped Illinois pack the paint against the Rams in this weekend’s loss. Expect Georgia Tech to attempt a similar D in hopes of a repeat performance from VCU tonight.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: VCU 71.9, GT 69.9
Scoring Defense: VCU 64.3, GT 67.6
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 53.4%, GT 47.5%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: GT 46.1%, VCU 47.7%
3-Point Field Goal%: GT 38.4%, VCU 35.5%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 32.3%, GT 33.8%
2-Point Field Goal%: VCU 53.5%, GT 44.8%
2-Point Field Goal% Defense: GT 43.9%, VCU 47.4%
Rebounds per game: GT 38.4, VCU 33
Turnover% Offense: VCU 19.7%, GT 21.3%
Turnover% Defense: VCU 22.6%, GT 19.1%
VCU WINS IF
VCU wins if they hit shots. Let’s not overthink things, it’s hard to win games if you can’t finish at the rim. I don’t expect VCU to change their style and start bombing away from distance, so it’ll be interesting to watch how a good two-point D in GT defends a VCU team that plans on attacking the basket. Gotta hit shots.
GEORGIA TECH WINS IF
VCU should come into this one angry, hungry and looking for redemption from both an embarrassing loss to to Illinois, as well as an almost equal beatdown to the Yellowjackets a year ago. Combine that with some favorable numbers and a home court advantage for the Rams and in theory, there is a lot going against GT tonight. But here’s your plan to win if you’re Josh Pastner: Pack the paint and dare VCU to beat you from anywhere other than right at the rim. Can the Rams consistently hit jump shots? Can they consistently hit threes? Tech needs to attempt to find out tonight. HOWEVER, as bad as VCU looked finishing against Illinois, Georgia Tech as essentially looked like that all season. The Yellowjackets get 58.1% of their scoring from two-point buckets but rank among the worst in the country at finishing inside the arc, thus setting us up for a classic Wednesday night rock fight at the Siegel Center.
Kenpom: 72-60 VCU win with an 85% chance of a Rams victory.
Game tips at 7PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA.
Watch: ESPNU, Official game day headquarters are Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Listen: Fox Sports 910 AM & 98.5 FM
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation