Game Preview: VCU v Bowling Green [INSIDER]

The Black and Gold made relatively easy work of their first two opponents but will look to ramp up the competition a bit tonight against the Bowling Green Falcons. The MAC school heads to the Siegel Center for their second consecutive road contest, their first coming in a near-upset of the Big East's St. John's Red Storm before eventually falling, 84-80. VCU will look to avoid any such types of scares tonight before heading to New York themselves for a trip to the Barclays Center next week.
<h4>VCU (2-0)
BOWLING GREEN (1-1)</h4>
The Falcons are hoping for their first winning season under fourth-year head coach, Michael Huger, and after almost hanging an L on the Red Storm, the Big East's preseason No.6 squad, Bowling Green fans might be believing a bit. The Falcons finished a Huger-best 16-16 this past season and 7-11 in conference play but did so with one of the nation's least experienced teams. This past season Bowling struggled on both sides of the ball with basically the same roster that will head to VCU tonight. The Falcons ranked 231st nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency thanks largely to an offense that struggled to finish down low -- 45.1% on two-point attempts, ranking them 325th nationally in that stat. The Falcons ranked dead last in MAC conference games in offensive efficiency. Defensively, things were all that much better. Bowling Green finished 233rd in adjusted defensive efficiency and basically made bad offenses look good. Huger's squad gave up 90 or more points six times on the season including a 106-point night from Division II Lake Erie. The Falcons played three games against top-100 teams this past season, going 0-4 against that group and were outscored by an average margin of 23.5 points, a sample that included a 42-point loss to an Old Dominion team last year's VCU squad defeated 82-75. Bowling Green is led by a trio that consists of double-digit scorers Justin Turner, Demajeo Wiggins and Dlyan Frye. Turner is the team's returning and current leading scorer, a 6'4 redshirt sophomore guard that can score from anywhere on the court. Turner is the team's biggest deep threat alongside Frye and is off to a 5-7 start from downtown this year. Wiggins is the team's best pro prospect, a 6'10 240 walking double-double who earned First Team MAC honors this preseason. Wiggins rebounds everything and is particularly effective on limiting second chance points. Frye can be lethal from deep but quite a bit more hit or miss inside the arc. While that trio has shown an ability to light it up, Bowling Green will need others to step up when that group needs a breather. The Falcons for the most part play about a six-man roster, meaning foul trouble, injury or fatigue to that group means a bit of a significant drop-off when when Huger has to go to his bench. Don't expect him to do much of that tonight however. Four Falcons are a virtual lock to play 30 more more minutes with a fifth being a serious posiblity as well.
It's been a bit of a tale of two halves for the Rams agains their first two opponents this season, taking 16-point halftimes leads into the locker room, stretching those leads to 20 ore more, only to really let up off the gas late, both games resulting in identical 69-57 scores. The Black &amp; Gold have looked much improved defensively over last year's group. The Rams have held their first two opponents to under 60 points this year, something they did just twice all of last season. The Rams are wreaking some havoc again as well, turning teams over 25.5% of their possessions, good currently for 35th nationally. The biggest and most extreme defensive improvement however so far has been VCU'a protection of the paint. VCU has limited their first two opponents to just 37% shooting inside the arc, a pace that will be virtually impossible to keep up, but one that is currently a 13% improvement over last year. Offensively the Rams have a bit of rust to shake off. All but two Rams, Marcus Evans and Mike'l Simms, have struggled to connect from deep. The Rams were a solid shooting team from distance last season, but are waiting for some typically trustworthy distance shooters to heat up a bit. One such shooter is De'Riante Jenkins. Jenkins has been money from deep on his career, shooting 42% up to this point but missed his first two attempts on the season prior to missing VCU's second game of the season with a bruised heel. His return combined with a return to accuracy for Sean Mobley (38% this past season), not to mention more minutes from a healing Marcus Evans, could make VCU a scary team if the Rams manage to keep up their defensive pace.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BG 85.5, VCU 69</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 57, BG 68</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BG 61%, VCU 47.8%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 36.8%, BG 53.1%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BG 47.8%, VCU 27.9%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 24.2%, BG 39.1%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BG 51.9%, VCU 51.4%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 37%, BG 50%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #ff0000;">BG 50, VCU 41.5</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 24.1%, BG 25.9%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 25.5%, BG 10.3%</span>
<h4>VCU WINS IF</h4>
Bowling Green has some hoopers and did play quite well against St. John's, but try not to freak out too much, Ram fans. The Falcons were picked last in the MAC East this preseason and like I said, struggled against A LOT of people last year with basically this same group and really struggled against the good teams. If you step back from their one-game 2018 sample and look at the larger picture, VCU should be able to score on this team, meaning if the Rams can keep up the defense they've been displaying so far this season, the black and gold head to Brooklyn at 3-0, which surprisingly enough is something that has happened at VCU just four times this past decade.

Kenpom: 78-71 VCU win with a 72% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 7PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA

Watch: MASN, ESPN+
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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