Game Preview: VCU v George Washington [INSIDER]

There's just a different feeling posting this game preview today. The Rams went from a preseason top-25 team, a 2019 top-20 team and just weeks ago, a bubble team, to what is now a bottom half Atlantic 10 team. It's a VCU team that has lost five consecutive games for the first time in 20 years and six of their last seven.

That's the bad news.

The good news is this is college hoops. A magical world where strange things happen. A world where a team can lose four of their last five including two double-digit home losses (one by 20), take one on the chin on senior night to a sub-100 James Madison team, then just weeks later, be playing in Houston in the Final 4 despite having a 10-point loss to a sub-200 team on their record.

In short, you aren't really out in college hoops until that final loss because weird things CAN happen.

Let's get weird.

VCU (17-11, 7-8)

The Colonials could best be described as a "pesky team" under first-year head coach (and former VCU assistant), Jamion Christian.

After tallying just four conference wins last season under former head coach, Maurice Joseph, Christian's Colonials have totaled six conference wins so far with three to play and strangely enough, could become the second struggling A-10 program to hop the preseason No.1 Rams with a win today.

Christian has GW up from No.293 nationally last season to No.214 this year, a ranking Colonial fans won't find satisfaction in, but a direction that may offer some hope at least for the time being.

GW has made improvements on both sides of the ball and are led by Armel Potter, somewhat of a career underachiever who is having a big breakout senior season. Potter leads the Colonials in points (14.8) and assists (6) per contest and leads the A-10 in assist rate at a ridiculous 46%. He aggressively attacks the basket and is most definitely a player VCU could have their hands full with today.

Potter is one of four double-digit scorers at GW, joining backcourt mates Maceo Jack (12.1 ppg), Jameer Nelson Jr. (11 ppg) and 6'7 freshman forward, Jamison Battle (11.9 ppg).

GW sits just behind VCU in A-10 offensive efficiency at ninth in the conference, but has shot itself as a team in the foot by checking in at 13th on the other side of the ball.

Defensively the Colonials have been hurt by the three in conference play, allowing teams to shoot 34.6% in A-10 games, which ranks 13th in the league. They've struggled with fouling, don't turn teams over and have been fairly mediocre defending inside the arc.

Overall GW is one of the least experienced squads in college hoops, starting three freshmen alongside two seniors, but look like a buncha gramps compared to the amount of experience that just defeated VCU in Amherst this past Wednesday.

It appears the wheels have fallen off on Broad St. The Rams are in the midst of their worst losing streak in two decades thanks largely to an offense that has looked pedestrian at best. VCU has shot under 41% in all six of their last contests and just 42.5% on the season, good for 226th nationally.

at UMass:
at Saint Louis: 40%
v Dayton: 36.8%
at Richmond: 34.3%
v Mason: 39.7%
v Davidson: 40.4%

The Rams have been killed on the glass during much of that streak as well. VCU was out-rebounded at UMass -- one of the nation's worst rebounding teams -- by 2, saw a -15 rebound margin at SLU, were out-rebounded by Richmond, the nation's 329th-ranked rebounding team, by one board and were destroyed on the glass at home against George Mason by 21.

Add to VCU's struggles a banged up roster as well and the light at the end of the tunnel appears to dim.

The RTD's Wayne Epps recently reported Corey Douglas will likely miss the rest of the season, star point guard Marcus Evans will be out for a "longer period of time" as well and Vince Williams is now listed as day-to-day.

It's been a rough stretch and one Ram fans, players and coaches would like to forget. The question is if this team has the ability to stop the bleeding or does it just continue downhill from here.

Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 70.6, GW 67.1</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 64.8, GW 69.9</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 49.6%, VCU 48.8%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 47.7%, GW 49.2%</span>
3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 34.1%, GW 32.7%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 31.5%, VCU 33.6%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 50%, VCU 47.5%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 46.3%, GW 50.1%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 34.1, GW 33.5</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 17.8%, 18.8%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">VCU 24.8%, GW 15.9%</span>

VCU is just desperate for some offensive efficiency in today's matchup against one of the A-10's worst defenses. I am especially interested to see how the black and gold clean things up inside the arc and run some stuff outside of the usual "hey, just take it to the hoop in an out-of-control fashion and make sure you're falling away from the basket when you shoot your shot" approach.

I'd kill to see VCU move the ball more with ::clears throat::....passing...and I am dying to see them take smart/more efficient shots. The ol' "warker smarter, not harder" approach is honestly what I'm looking for today and I think if VCU wises up with their approach, they may be able to go on a little run here to end the season.

Kenpom: 74-60 VCU win with an 88% chance of a Rams victory.

Game tips at 4PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA

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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