VCU will have their second consecutive “revenge game” when welcoming the Flyers of Dayton to the Siegel Center tonight. The black and gold will hope things go a bit better than their last rubber match, a 1-point loss this Wednesday at Richmond that looked like a victory in the bag before a last-minute collapse.
The Rams were on the wrong end of a nuclear first half from former VCU head coach Anthony Grant’s Flyers the last go ’round, giving up 66 first half points to UD in the first 20 minutes of action. VCU will look to be a different team tonight than the one that allowed a season-worst 106 points one month ago.
VCU (14-10, 6-5)
DAYTON (11-12, 5-6)
A QUICK LOOK AT DAYTON
In many ways the Flyers are so extremely similar to VCU. This is a team that can really get hot on offense but also has struggled defensively all season like. That has offered up a confusing batch of results from Grant’s group that includes a season sweep at the hands of No.194 nationally UMass, but wins over St. Bonaventure, Davidson and a solid Georgia State squad. The Flyers rank 19th nationally in effective field goal percentage offense thanks to the country’s second-ranked two-point offense but check in at 281st in the country in defensive EFG%. They’re like an extreme versions of VCU and their results reflect that.
VCU saw about the best version of UD in their previous meeting, catching 17 made Dayton threes (53.7% on the night) from a team that’s been basically just mediocre from downtown on the year.
UD has the ability to go cold however and are just 1-6 in true road games this season, picking up their sole visiting win just down the street at UofR one month ago. The Flyers are 2-10 on the season when scoring 70 points or less, making an much-improved defensive effort from the Rams absolutely essential today. VCU has held just four A-10 opponents to 70 or fewer points, going 3-1 over that stretch. The Rams have held a total of nine teams out of 24 games (just 37.5% of their opponents) to 70 or less, but only one of which, Michigan, had a top-100 nationally ranked offense like the Flyers.
A QUICK LOOK AT VCU
The good news for the Rams is senior point guard Johnny Williams is expected to play in today’s game. I’ve been told he may not play a major role, but will be used as needed. Williams was one of just three Rams to post double-digit scoring against the Flyers in the last meeting between the two and his return will give the Rams some added depth in today’s matchup.
VCU’s 2018 Atlantic 10 journey has been an interesting one. All the measurables say this Rams team has regressed in conference play, most notably on the offensive end beyond the three-point arc. The Rams entered A-10 play shooting a dangerous 37.7% from deep but have hit just 31.6% in conference play to rank them second from the bottom from deep in league games. Defensively the Rams have for the most part offered an open invitation to easy baskets on D, ranking last of the 14 A-10 teams in blocks percentage and ninth overall in two-point percentage defense. And when VCU isn’t watching opponents drive past them, they’ve been fouling A-10 teams to send em to the stripe for easy buckets, checking in at 12th in defensive free throw rate.
Long story short, VCU has just not made things easy on themselves in conference. The good news is it is a statistical FACT that VCU has proven themselves capable of playing better, posting much better numbers in the non-conference against a tougher schedule than VCU has seen since entering the conference season.
VCU is capable of much more. The question is when we will actually see that. Any added delay in that regression to the mean will all but assure a four-game path to an A-10 title and quite frankly, unlike the 2015 Rams that were ranked 30th nationally, I just don’t see four games in DC as a winnable path for this year’s team.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Scoring Offense: VCU 77, UD 73.5
Scoring Defense: UD 72.9, VCU 75
Effective Field Goal% Offense: UD 56.5%, VCU 52.1%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 51.4%, UD 53.4%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 34.9%, UD 34.7%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 33.8%, UD 38.3%
2-Point Field Goal%: UD 60.1%, 51.9%
2-Point Field Goal% Defense: UD 50.6%, VCU 51.9%
Rebounds per game: VCU 37.1, UD 31.6
Turnover% Offense: VCU 19%, UD 19.9%
Turnover% Defense: VCU 18.4%, UD 18.3%
VCU WINS IF
The Rams may need a visit from the ghosts of Havoc’s past to pull this one out. UD has been a very consist shooting offense all season long but have been prone to turnovers, ranking 254th nationally at holding on to the ball on offense. VCU just doesn’t have a large enough sample of capable halfcourt defensive games to suggest they are going to slow the Flyers down without turning them over, so I think the Rams may need to give themselves a large possessions advantage to pull this one out.
Gotta defend the three. Gotta defend the three. Dayton takes 44.7% of their shots from beyond the arc, which is a very high number. We’ve seen what happens when those things are falling. The Rams simply must run UD off the line and may have to live with what happens on the back end of that to get revenge tonight.
Kenpom: 78-75 VCU win with a 63% chance of a Rams victory.
Game tips at 6PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA
Watch: CBS Sports Network, Official game day headquarters are Baja Bean Co. in the Fan and 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