Game Preview: VCU at Davidson [INSIDER]

After a crucial home win against the Saint Louis Billikens without the services of leading scorer, Bones Hyland, the Rams head to Belk Arena to finish up their regular season against the Davidson Wildcats today. VCU is locked into a top-2 A-10 finish at worst, but can most likely lock up an NCAA tournament bid with a win today while maintaining the possibility of  an A-10 regular season title with a little help  from the conference, needing a St. Bonaventure loss to secure the conference's top seed heading into next week's A-10 tournament in Richmond.
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VCU (17-5, 10-3)
DAVIDSON (11-7, 6-4)[/HEADING=3]

Bob McKillop's squad is doing what they always seem to do since joining the A-10, which is to say quietly hanging around the top  of the league via one the the nation's most underrated offenses. The Cats graduated start guard,  Jon Axel Gudumundsson, but currently rank 27th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. They claim that ranking via a  somewhat turnover-free offense that is extremely efficient inside the arc, but also as a team you could definitely describe as a bit of a "live by the three, die by the three" squad via half of their shots coming from long range.

Senior Kellan Grady does a lot of the heavy lifting for the Wildcast offense as the team's only 30+ minute per game player, averaging a team-high 17 points a night while shooting 40% from long range, but 6'7 sophomore, Hyunjung Lee, provides a dangerous option as well, currently connecting on a 46.2% of his threes. Lee leads the A-10 in conference action with a 65.3% true shooting percentage.

That duo is joined by senior Carter Collins, arguably the A-10 most underrated player at the moment. The Chapel Hill native ranks top-100 nationally with a 62.8% true shooting percentage and ranks second in the A-10 with a player efficiency rating of 24.4, just a smidge behind conference leader, Tre Mitchell, as 24.5.

The Wildcats play a fairly short bench, ranking 265th nationally in bench minutes. They've been solid  on the season defensively, but rank 8th in the conference in defensive efficiency via getting torched by teams' three-point shooters. The Cats are allowing a league-worst 38.2% shooting from deep against conference foes.

The black and gold pulled off a massive win against Saint Louis this week without the services of Bones Hyland, upsetting the odds as the Rams were the underdog despite playing the game on their home floor. VCU fans will hope that was a bit of a confidence boost for the rest of the team, a confidence boost that couldn't come at a better time as we enter our first potential real tournament March in two years (VCU's only taste of March Madness this past season  came in warmups before the Rams' A-10 tourney opener was canceled three minutes before tip).

Ace Baldwin was the star of the show in the Rams recent win, showing he has grown up fast for anyone still viewing him as a freshman. The Baltimore native hit four clutch free throws late, two of which were to tie the game, the other two to win it.

But perhaps the most promising sign from the win was the breakout performance from freshman classmate, Josh Banks. Banks played a career-high 20 minutes and posted a career-best seven points on 3-5 shooting. His 143 offensive rating was the second best of his career, but the freshman's defense is perhaps what kept him on the floor for the last play of the game against the conference's preseason No.2 Billikens.

VCU's defense was on point in the win, but it was the Rams limited turnovers (just seven) from a team that ranks 206th nationally in turnover percentage offense that was the surprise start in the win.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 73, DAV 72.3</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 63.8, VCU 65.2</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 55.4%, VCU 51.2%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 45.6%, DAV 49.9%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 35.3%, VCU 33.6%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 29.4%, DAV 34.6%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 57.7%, VCU 51.6%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 46.3%, DAV 48.5%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 35.5, VCU 34.4</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">DAV 17.3%, VCU 20.7%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 24.3%, DAV 15.2%</span>

Defense wins championships right? Well there ya go. Bones Hyland status is unknown to me as of this posting, but the sophomore's Instagram story showed a shirtless Hyland in practice shorts at shoot around yesterday, leading me to believe VCU's start will be a go in what COULD be an A-10 Player of the Year-cementing game for him. But again, while Hyland gives VCU a much-needed offensive boost, it will be VCU's ability to lock down the Wildcat shooters, running them off the three-point line, that should determine today's chances of a win.

Kenpom: 67-66 VCU win with a 51% chance of a Rams victory

Game tips at 2PM at Belk Arena in Davidson, NC

Watch: CBS Sports Network

Listen: <a href=";pname=1248&amp;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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