VCU will travel to Davidson today to take on Bob McKillop’s Wildcats while attempting to stay undefeated in Atlantic 10 play. The Rams have won four consecutive games against Davidson including all three of last year’s battles, winning by an average margin of victory of 14 points per contest. Davidson however is 1-1 in Belk Arena against the black and gold including a 28-point drubbing of the Rams in 2015. A Rams win today would move VCU to a perfect 5-0 in true road games while continuing VCU’s lead atop the A-10 standings.
VCU (14-3, 4-0)
DAVIDSON (8-7, 1-3)
A QUICK LOOK AT DAVIDSON
Davidson began their Atlantic 10 era in style back during the 2014-15 season, winning the regular season conference title in their first attempt at doing so. Expectations were naturally high following that inaugural run, but what we’ve seen since has been somewhat of a Davidson College fizzle. The Cats finished last season a decent 20-13 but added four more A-10 losses for a mediocre 10-8 sixth-place conference finish. After being picked fourth in this year’s A-10 preseason poll they are a loss today away from sitting at .500 on the season and a deep 1-4 hole in the conference standings. Davidson has dropped both of their A-10 home games so far including a head-scratching 60-54 L handed to them by the lowly Rams of Fordham University who had lost nine of their previous 10 games heading into the matchup. The Cats however have shown flashes including a one-point halftime lead at Kansas earlier this season and a competitive loss at North Carolina. Davidson has played four kenpom top-100 teams this season — although none at home — losing by an average margin of defeat of 14.8 points per game. Some of the Cats’ decline could be attributed to a decline in three-point shooting for a school that perhaps doesn’t have the athletes or size to win when they aren’t hitting from deep. Bob McKillop’s squad was the 25th ranked three-point shooting team in the country their first year in the A-10, dropped 137th last season and are all the way down to 217th nationally this year with a three-point shooting percentage of 33.7%. Any bit of offensive woes of course is a tough pill for a team that is not known for their defense. But speaking of defense, that is an area the Cats have actually been somewhat improved. Davidson ranked 223rd nationally in defensive efficiency last season but have jumped to 117th this year. You can credit a bit of that to the addition of available Boston College transfer Will Magarity. The 6’11 center has given Davidson some added size inside next to the mega-talented Peyton Aldridge and is blocking 6.9% of opponents shots this season. That has helped Davidson go from allowing 52.2% scoring inside the arc last season (an embarrassing 303rd national ranking) to 42.8% this season, good for 25th in the country. That Cats are of course led by the talented duo of Jack Gibbs (21 ppg, 4.1 apg) and Peyton Aldridge (20.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg), arguably the A-10’s best duo. Gibbs is a dangerous combo guard with two 30-point games already under his belt, Aldridge perhaps the league’s most versatile player and a tough matchup for any A-10 big. Expect both to play almost all of today’s game for a Davidson rotation that usually goes about six deep.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
You know these guys, so here are the CliffsNotes:
-VCU has averaged 87.7 points their last three games and have scored at least 80 points in five of their last seven contests.
-After four A-10 games, VCU ranks second in both offensive and defensive efficiency in conference play. They are joined by Rhode Island and La Salle as the only other teams to rank in the top-four in both stats, but VCU outranks both of those teams in both efficiency stats.
-JeQuan Lewis posted his first 0-turnover game of the season in VCU’s demolition of GW. He combined for just two turnovers in his last two games against Davidson BUT, had a five-turnover game in VCU’s contest at Davidson last season. His ability to limit turnovers will be a difference-maker for the Rams this season.
-Jordan Burgess is having the best season of his career and ranks 16th in the A-10 this season in effective field goal percentage among players playing at least 60% of available minutes. His improved offense has been a huge bonus for VCU this season.
-VCU’s game at Davidson (kenpom No.84) will be the Rams’ first game against a Pomeroy top-100 squad since defeating No.57 MTSU on December 17.
-VCU will be just one of four top-100 2p% offenses Davidson will have faced this season. The Cats defeated Jacksonville (who ranks in top-100 of 2p% D but take a very limited numbers of twos) and lost to both Kansas and Richmond. The most similar of that group in terms of offensive style is Kansas who, like VCU, ranks top-100 in both two-point percentage and percentage of points scored off of twos (ya fallow?). The Jayhawks took 47s twos against Davidson and finished 57.4% of them. VCU is averaging 47.5 two-point attempts in their four A-10 games.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: VCU 75.9, DAV 75
Scoring Defense: VCU 65.7, DAV 70.8
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 53.7%, DAV 51%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 47.5%, DAV 48.3%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 36.2%, DAV 33.7%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 34.5%, DAV 38.7%
2-Point Field Goal%: VCU 53.5%, DAV 51.4%
2-Point Field Goal% Defense: DAV 42.8%, VCU 45.9%
Rebounds per game: DAV 37.8, VCU 35.2
Turnover% Offense: VCU 19.5%, DAV 17.4%
Turnover% Defense: VCU 22.9%, DAV 17.1%
VCU WINS IF
VCU wins this if they defend like their lives depend on it. The Wildcats rank 10th in A-10 play in effective field goal percentage offense and that’s against a group (GW, SLU, Fordham and Richmond) that isn’t exactly known for their defensive prowess. We want to keep Davidson on their current trend ( and that means locking them down on D. Do that, keep the turnovers near the game-goal of 12 while finishing inside the arc and a you’ll start hearing a lot more about this year’s Rams on the national level.
DAVIDSON WINS IF
If the Cats can bottle up VCU inside, they’ve got a very good chance at pulling off a home upset. Davidson’s best win this season came on a neutral court against kenpom No.122 Arizona State. They held the Sun Devils to under 35% shooting inside the arc in the win. The Cats also held UNC to just 35.1% in a road contest they made interesting. If they can limit VCU to under 48% shooting inside the arc (foul trouble to Mo and Justin would help there), things could get scary for VCU fans.
Kenpom: 74-73 VCU win with a 53% chance of a Rams victory.
Game tips at 2PM at Belk Arena in Davidson, NC
Watch: CBS Sports Network, 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