Game Preview: Rams look to end regular season with win at GW

VCU clinched the A-10 regular season title this week and will hope to keep their winning streak alive when traveling to Foggy Bottom today for a regular season finale at George Washington. The Colonials are riding a four-game win streak themselves and are hoping to improve their A-10 tourney seeding with a win today against the top-seeded Rams. Perhaps most importantly for VCU though, is their ability to keep whatever slim at-large chances they currently hold alive with a win. The black and gold rank 31st in the old RPI rankings that was previously used for tournament selection, are winners of the A-10 outright and could do so by three total games with a win today and own a win against a Pittsburgh team currently tied atop the ACC standings. There is an at-large case to be made, but a loss today makes that even harder to make.

VCU RAMS (23-7, 14-3)
GW COLONIALS (16-14, 10-7)[/HEADING=3]

GW is up to 214th in the kenpom rankings, surprisingly their highest spot since 2018, but doing so with a winning record this time and are, at worst, at least guaranteed a .500 season, what would be their first non-losing season since 2017. They've found that success thanks to a combination of experienced transfers under first-year head coach, Chris Caputo. The longtime Mason assistant under Jim Larranaga made his way back to the DMV after 11 seasons with the former CAA legend in Miami and inherited a fairly talented roster that was mostly put together by departing head coach and former VCU assistant, Jamion Christian.

On paper that team has been led by A-10 leading scorer, James Bishop. The Baltimore native and former Will Wade commit at LSU is averaging 21.7 points and 5.2 assists for the Colonials. He's having his most efficient season of his career, but can have a tendency to either win a game for or shoot his team out of any particular game. Despite his gaudy averages, Bishop actually still sits in the red with a negative box plus/minus on the season (-0.1), mostly due to a -3.5 defensive plus minus that just barely puts him in the red.

Bishop's struggle there really highlights the teams' biggest challenge this season, with the Colonials D ranking 314th nationally on the season in adjusted defensive efficiency. They rank 14th out of 15 A-10 teams in conference action in that stat.

Bishop is joined by UConn transfer Brendan Adams, brother of former Bona legend, Jaylen Adams. The 6'4 senior leads the team in +/- at +1.5 and is chipping in an efficient 17.6 points per game for GW. His 61.6% true shooting percentage is third to only bigs Hunter Dean (68%) and Ricky Lindo (62%). He is the second most played player in the A-10 this season behind Bona's Daryl Banks, averaging 37.6 minutes per contest.

Lindo and freshman, Maximus Edwards, both chip in just over 10 points per contest for GW on a roster that barely dips into its bench. The Colonials play the 10th fewest bench minutes in all of college hoops this season (363 teams), something that could be tested today against a VCU team that is currently the ninth-best in the land at drawing fouls on opposing defenses.

The stat of the year really, one that pretty much stays in my game previews is VCU's insane volatility in three-point shooting, BUT...what makes them scary is their ability to win on a horrible three-point shooting night. The Rams locked up the regular season title thanks to a 79-point effort over preseason No.2, Saint Louis. VCU hit just two of their 13 attempts (15.4%)...yet won by 12. Terrifying for opposing teams. Just two games prior they hit 57.9% of their threes, resulting in a 25-point road win at Saint Joseph's.

There is your VCU Rams. ELITE defensive team that does an incredibly job of drawing fouls and finishing inside the arc. When they hit threes they truly are a top-25 caliber team.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 76.6, VCU 70.9</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 62.8, GW 76.5</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 51.3%, GW 53.5%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 47.2%, GW 52%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 33.2%, GW 32.6%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 32.7%, SJU 34.8%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 56.4%, VCU 52%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 46.2%, GW 51.8%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 35, VCU 33.3</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 17.8%, VCU 20%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 24.8%, GW 15.7%</span>

They defend the paint. On paper that seems to really be the heart of this GW team's success. They don't defend hardly at all (usually), they aren't a good three-point shooting team on the season, meaning in theory...if you slow down that 13th-ranked (nationally) two-point offense, the Colonials SHOULD be in trouble. Now of course the game of basketball has a tendency to do weird things time after time, but on paper, that seems to really be the key. VCU's two-point defense ranks 36th nationally, so if you are a college hoops handicapper, you likely like that matchup for the Rams.

Kenpom: 77-71 VCU win with a 73% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 4:30PM at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, DC

Watch: USA

Listen: <a href=";campid=header&amp;cid=index.html">Fox Sports 910 AM &amp; 98.5 FM</a>
Live Tweets:¬†<a href="">@VCURamNation</a>​

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Mat Shelton-Eide
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