Game Preview: VCU v Davidson

The Rams have revenge on the brain when traveling to Davidson, NC tonight to take on a Wildcats team that handed VCU their last lost a week ago. VCU saw a late a second half lead vanish and couldn’t come up with last-play heroics to extend the game to overtime, helping add a notch to Davidson’s current 15-game winning streak and playing a roll in the Cats’ current top-25 ranking. The black and gold will look to make that ranking a short-lived one, handing Davidson their second home loss in the series in as many tries.

VCU (11-6, 4-2)
No.25 DAVIDSON (16-2, 6-0)


The Cats have climbed atop the A-10 standings by showing off all year what Ram fans saw at the Siegel Center, which is to say a lights out group of shooters who can absolutely terrify opposing defenses with their ability to connect from anywhere on the floor. Davidson hit 50% of their threes in their last meeting against the Rams (50% inside the arc as well), a not surprising effort from the nation’s second-ranked shooting team. That level of shooting allowed them to escape the Siegel Center with a win despite 17 turnovers to the Rams and VCU connecting on a strong 40% of their threes (about 7% better than their season average) as well.

It was unstoppable force versus immovable object and unstoppable force came out victorious.

Davidson has played just enough good defense as well to get to where they are today. While far from elite, the Cats’ 161st-ranked D has allowed them to come out on top by just one made basket in all of their last three wins. In conference games the Cats rank first in offensive efficiency by a comfortable margin, but check in at 11th on the other side of the ball.

A ridiculous seven Wildcats are shooting over 40% from three this season including four starters, one of which is a 6’10 center. Insane.


The Rams are the polar opposite of Davidson basically: Elite defense, but questionable offense. Has the Rams offense looked good at times in Atlantic 10 play? Certainly. Has it looked against the good A-10 teams? No.

Against the top of the conference the Rams have scored 53 points twice (Dayton & St. Bonaventure, one win, one loss) and 61 against Davidson (a loss). The Rams’ biggest challenge so far coming from generating any easy buckets. VCU ranks 13th in-conference in A-10 free throw rate and 11th in 2-point percentage. They are a little bit live or die by the three and a lot bit live or die by ability to create transition scoring opportunities (which VCU sadly isn’t finishing at a nearly efficient enough clip).

VCU is playing some fairly elite A-10 defense however, the only real snag coming in the form of an insanely-high defense free throw rate.

So that’s an annoying pair of facts to consider: VCU is one of the worst A-10 teams so far in conference games at getting to the free throw stripe while simultaneously being one of the worst defensively at sending teams to the line.

Free throw attempts margin in VCU’s A-10 games
@ Dayton -25
@ La Salle even
v GW -4
@ St. Bonaventure -19
v Davidson -5
v St. Joe’s -5

The good news is the Rams were able to pull off wins in four of those including the -25 afternoon at Dayton. Imagine how tough VCU can be if they figure out a way to get in the positive there?


Scoring Offense: DAV 77.3, VCU 63.1
Scoring Defense: VCU 58.2, DAV 66.4
Effective Field Goal% Offense: DAV 57.5%, VCU 48.9%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 42.4%, DAV 50.9%
3-Point Field Goal%: DAV 41.6%, VCU 33.3%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 26.3%, DAV 35.1%
2-Point Field Goal%: DAV 54.3%, VCU 48.4%

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 44%, DAV 49.3%
Rebounds per game: DAV 34.1, VCU 32.4
Turnover% Offense: DAV 15.5%, VCU 22.2%
Turnover% Defense: VCU 27%, DAV 17.7%


Clearly limiting Davidson from distance is beyond huge. Fordham threatened a major upset this week by holding Davidson to 23.1% from deep, but came up just three points short. We’ve all seen how important it is to SOMEHOW limit Davidson from distance, especially at home where those makes become crowd ignitors. But beyond that, the Rams are still in search of a the blueprints for creating easy buckets with this group of players. Davidson is allowing opponents to finish 49% of their attempts inside the arch this season and held the Rams to just below that at 47.4% in the recent contest between these two. Last year’s Rams managed 58.3% inside the arc to end Davidson’s season in the A-10 semifinals and that sort of success (combined with some top-10 defense) is likely what they’ll need to find today to pull off what would clearly be a pretty massive road win this evening.

Kenpom: 66-61 VCU loss with a 32% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 8:30PM at Belk Arena in Davidson, NC

Watch: CBS SportsNet

Listen: Fox Sports 910 AM & 98.5 FM
Live Tweets: @VCURamNation

A two-time graduate of VCU (School of the Arts '07, Center for Sport Leadership '10), Mat is a co-founder of VCU Ram Nation and a longtime fan as the ...