VCU v ODU, a rivalry we’ll tell our kids about. It’s also a rivalry the older generations of Rams fans will likely have to to keep the embers burning in this one, as the once bitter conference rivalry has slowly lost it’s luster thanks to realignment, football and a Monarch rebuild.
Consider the fact that VCU’s home contest against crosstown Atlantic 10 foe, the Richmond Spiders, has been sold out for weeks, while tickets to Saturday’s contest against Old Dominion remain.
Times, they are a changin’.
The once bitter conference rivals have played 92 times with VCU winning 49 of those contests, including six of the last seven. The Rams haven’t lost this matchup since 2015 and will look to hold serve at home again this year, hopefully giving the black and gold their 50th win against Old Dominion during VCU’s 50th season of basketball — and a likely top-100 win at that, so a necessary one for a team with a craving for Madness.
The Ram Nation staff has been around for a decent little chunk of that, but were perhaps too young to really give this thing it’s due until just after Y2K. Either way, here are our staff picks, our favorite memories from the VCU v Old Dominion rivalry.
Mat Shelton-Eide: VCU wins at ODU, 59-50, Jan 22, 2011
This one felt good during and feels even better in retrospect, knowing just how important of a win it would end up being.
After two consecutive wins over the Monarchs, ODU put together a pair of back-to-back wins themselves in 2010, beating VCU to end the regular season and then in the 2010 CAA tournament final, thus relegating the Rams to a CBI bid in Shaka Smart’s first year on Broad St.
The following season ODU would essentially do somewhat of the same thing, beating VCU in the Siegel Center and then in the CAA tourney final, but not until after the Rams grabbed a VERY valuable road win in Norfolk, easily the most important VCU v ODU road win in the series’ history.
It was a close game the Rams led at the half, a game featuring six lead changes including three in the second stanza. But ultimately clutch late threes by Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez would end up icing the game, giving the Rams a top-50 road win for their March resume.
The Monarchs would briefly seek some revenge, defeating VCU at the Richmond Coliseum in the 2011 CAA Final, only to shortly after watch VCU dance all the way to the Final 4, the only Final 4 appearance by either team and with that, some legit hoops bragging rights for the Rams.
There’s absolutely no way VCU is granted an NCAA tournament ticket that season without that win, making January 22, 2011 the most important game between these two in the history of the series.
Michael Hagan: VCU defeats ODU 70-58, Feb 6, 2010
Back towards the end of the CAA days, VCU already had dropped 4 games to other classic CAA conference foes. You know the ODU game was on the calendar, circled and marked. A VCU team with Larry Sanders, Brandon Rozzell, Joey Rodriguez, Ed Nixon, Kirill Pischalnikov, TJ Gwynn and a cast of other colorful characters. One of the biggest, most memorable Old Dominion players, Frank Hassell, had VCU’s number for, what felt like, his entire career as a Monarch. Rams bounced back after a good all around performance from the team, especially from Pischalnikov. Watch the first few minutes (or all of if it you’d like) to see Kirill’s power in the paint in VCU’s win 70-58.
Marcus Shrock: VCU defeats ODU 61-53, Mar 8, 2009
There are so many thoughts that cross my mind when trying to pick my favorite VCU-ODU game.
One one hand, there is nothing like walking with your friends through the snowy streets in the Fan—devoid of car traffic—to get inside a frenetic Siegel Center to see VCU beat ODU. And, I loved everything about the Darius Theus years. It was so special watching a guy from that neck-of-the-woods get to show his hometown who was boss. Same with Briante Weber. To see them put on clinics was priceless.
I also loved the trip to Norfolk February 11, 2012. Bradford Burgess senior year and last trip to ODU. VCU was down by 3 with a minute left. We scored 8 straight Theus scored 5 points in 15 seconds during that final 60 seconds. Oh, and Burgess walked away with 24pts, 6 rebs, and 5 steals.
Shoot, there’s even a great memory or two from going down to Norfolk—and I don’t mean just the feeling you get when leaving Norfolk. I remember going down and being 1 of 3 gold shirts in a see of white-shirted ODU students. We got kicked, spit on, heckled, the whole nine-yards. But it was always good basketball to watch.
There’s been a whole host of players who have made names for themselves through the rivalry. ODU had guys like Dahi, Vasylius, Lee, James, Finney, Bazemore, Hassell, Iliadis, and who could forget Sam Harris?! All guys we love to hate. And, some of them were even pretty good.
But, here it is, my favorite memory:
March 8, 2009. Richmond Coliseum. CAA Tournament Semi-Finals. VCU vs ODU.
I had 100% fully bought in to Anthony Grant. I wanted him to stay here forever. I thought he was the Answer and the Truth. He terrified me. I loved it. This team was ferocious.
Eric Maynor in his senior year and final CAA Tournament. This was the Future of VCU playing with the greatest point guard to grace the VCU jersey! Larry Sanders. The Energy Brothers, Brandon Rozzell and Ed Nixon. Joey Rodriguez sharing point guard duties with Eric Maynor. A baby-faced, Bradford Burgess! This game just had it all for me. We were in control!
There are so many highlights from this game it’s crazy. But, I think the Eric Maynor to Larry Sanders ally-oop will forever be the thing that people recall first. Oh, and Sanders put up a humbling 12pt, 14reb performance on Gerald Lee—who went 1-7 that game from the field. Maynor finished with 23pts and 4 assists. Darius James finished scoreless on 0-8 shooting. It was a pretty great day!
VCU played GMU the next day in the Finals and handed them a beat down securing a ticket to the Big Dance.
Matt Morton – VCU wins at ODU, 68-64, Feb 11, 2012
Tough to be last on this list. I’ll give you a game that had less significant implications, but one that just felt GREAT as a VCU fan.
I used to hate games at the Ted, I felt like ODU fans were just so disrespectful, always talking trash and pushing the limits between being a fan and being a jerk. And if you’re like me, it’s just so hard to handle a full arena cheering for the opposing team.
By 2012, neither team had achieved a series sweep in 8 years. The Rams were coming off of that magical Final Four run, and Blaine Taylor had recently run his mouth to the press saying “the tournament can make rock stars out of average people.” After showing ODU what VCU can do with average people in January of 2012 with a 61-48 victory, Shaka Smart had another chance just a few weeks later to reiterate that point. It was also Kent Bazemore’s senior year, potentially his last game against VCU, at home.
ODU had 12 steals to VCU’s 11. This game was absolutely nuts. The Monarchs surged to a 12 point lead late in the 1st half, but a couple of 3’s by Bradford Burgess and Troy Daniels put VCU behind by just 3 at the half.
The final few minutes of this game are what make it one of the most classic games in the rivalry series. VCU and ODU would trade leads several times. Down by 2 with 2:00 to go, Darius Theus hits a 3 to take the lead, but Trian Iliadis matched it on the following play, putting ODU back up by 2. With just a minute to go and VCU down by 3, Theus dishes the ball to Bradford Burgess, Mr. Clutch himself, who knocks down a 3 to tie the game. As Bazemore brings the ball up the court, VCU hits him with a half court trap, which leads to a steal for Juvonte Reddic, who gets the ball to Darius Theus for a layup, and one, he hits the free throw, Rams up by 3. ODU would never recover.
VCU sweeps ODU in its final season in the CAA. True rockstars.