Game Preview: VCU at GW [INSIDER]

VCU travels to Foggy Bottom tonight for a matchup with George Washington. The Rams suffered a shocking 24-point loss there this past season after having defeated the Colonials by the exact same margin earlier in the year. A Rams win would keep the black and gold within striking distance of current A-10 No.1, Davidson and avoid what would be a major blemish on VCU's tournament resume.
<h4>VCU (15-6, 6-2)
GEORGE WASHINGTON (7-14, 3-5)</h4>
The Colonials have been on a three-year downward spiral during the Maurice Joseph era. The young head coach inherited same talented players via the strange departure (Google it) of former head coach, Mike Lonergan, but has seen the cupboard slowly emptying, resulting in a GW's first 200 or worst ranked team since the 2002 season. It's a predominantly sophomore-led team alongside junior leading scorer, Illinois transfer, DJ Williams (14 ppg).

GW has one of the worst offenses in college hoops, checking in at No.305 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency. Defensively they'e actually taken a bit of a step forward from this past season thanks largely to improved interior D and limited fouling on that side of the ball.

Mojo's squad has just one top-200 win this season, a 71-67 overtime home win against kenpom No.173 American. They have three sub-200 losses thus far, which includes a recent 20-point home loss to No.222 Richmond as well as a non-conference home letdown against Sienna.

GW plays about seven deep, with three of their current active players, DJ Williams, Justin Mazzulla and Terry Nolan Jr., checkin in at 30+ minutes per contest.
Perhaps my favorite matchup of the evening will be GW's 305th-ranked offense against VCU's No.8 defense (although you watch em come out and hit like every three somehow).

The Rams have been one of the best defensive teams in the country and in their last two games have sprinkled in some scoring as well, posting 79 in a win over Mason and 80 in a road victory at Duquesne. VCU struggled with turnovers and three-point shooting in the non-conference but at least beyond the arc have found some hot nights in A-10 action. Turnovers overall have been an issue in A-10 play, but VCU has averaged just 12 per contest in their last two games as a part of this brief A-10 win streak.

The law firm of Marcus (Evans) and Marcus (Santos-Silva) have been a huge part of the Rams' season and conference success, Evans starting to hit his stride a bit more in conference play after recovering from achilles surgery that might have somewhat limited him earlier in the year. The Rice transfer posted a sub-100 offensive rating in the non-conference but currently ranks ninth in A-10 play in that stat at a very good 113.2. He's boosted his assist rate, lowered his turnover rate and is the second best player in-conference at drawing fouls on the opposition. Second that is to his partner in crime, Marcus Santos-Silva at 6.5 per 40.

The duo has been fairly dominant and have been joined by the hot-shooting De'Riante Jenkins we knew from previous season.

Jenkins struggled from three in the non-conference but has hit 38.9% in A-10 action, giving VCU a dangerous weapon from deep to go with the 1-2 punch of M&amp;M.

Not to be left out, Issac Vann has pulled up his three-point percentage in the league as well, hitting a career-best 41.7% of his threes in A-10 play.

VCU has won eight of their last 10 and led by double-digits in both of their Atlantic 10 road losses.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 70.2, GW 65</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 63.5, GW 70.5</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 48.9%, GW 46.2%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 42.8%, GW 50.2%</span>

3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 30.3%, VCU 30%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 26.4%, GW 35.3%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 51.7%, GW 46.5%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 44.5%, GW 48.4%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 37.1, GW 34.6</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 18.3%, VCU 20.7%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 23.1%, GW 17.9%</span>
<h4>VCU WINS IF</h4>
Well, here's how they lost time: GW hit six of their 11 threes (54.5%) as a part of a 61.6% true shooting percentage night while the Rams couldn't throw a beach ball into the ocean (43.3% true shooting percentage 56-point night). VCU also lost the turnover battle.

As we've come to discover however, this year's Rams and last year's are quite different groups.

This year's VCU team can win this game by 1) not overlooking GW 2) sitting down on D and 3) taking smart shots on offense.

We've all seen games in the past where one team comes in looking way better on paper, then basically plays as if they expect to be just handed the game but catches an L instead. I call that "basketball happens". VCU can't get caught sleeping tonight or they will be gifted a seriously damaging bad loss on what is currently a bubble resume.

Kenpom: 68-58 VCU win with an 83% chance of a VCU Rams victory.

Game tips at 7PM at the Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C.

Watch: MASN
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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