Game Preview: VCU v GW [INSIDER]

After a 10-point win at George Washington just over two weeks ago, the Rams welcome the Colonials to the Siegel Center for the rematch. VCU comes into this one in sole possession of first place in the A-10 while Maurice Joseph's GW squad is simply attempting to fight their way out of the bottom four. Let's go!
<h4>VCU (20-6, 11-2)
GEORGE WASHINGTON (8-18, 4-9)</h4>
We'll keep it real quick this time. Year-three for Maurice Joseph is looking like it could be his final year, as the once proud Colonials have gone from A-10 contender under former head coach, Mike Lonergan, to conference cellar dweller. Joseph won 20 games in his first season in Foggy Bottom, but has watched the talent level gradually fall off a cliff under his guidance, resulting in GW's lowest ranked team in a couple of decades (GW's first kenpom sub-200 squad since 2002). The Colonials defense has been bad and their offense has been even worse.

The Colonials are relatively inexperienced, rolling with a sophomore heavy squad that features just one player with a triple-digits offensive rating (note: that's bad). They've lost three of their four games since falling to VCU -- all of which came by double-digits -- but they are coming off a 12-point home win over a reeling UMass team that has been a disappointment all season.

GW ranks ninth in-conference in offensive efficiency and 13th on the defensive end.

They did however remain within striking distance of VCU during the first half of their first meeting, taking a 30-28 lead just before VCU closed the half on a 6-0 run, then pulling within four points in the final two minutes, meaning there's little chance the Rams will look past the Colonials today.

Colonial guards DJ Williams and Maceo Jack combined for 30 of GW's 50 points that day, a performance VCU will no doubt keep in mind heading into the rematch.
Picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll, VCU finds themselves controlling the conference race at 0.5 games ahead of No.2 Davidson with five games remaining. A win would move VCU to a full game ahead of the Cats, who have played one more game than VCU thanks to last night's win at Rhode Island.

To maintain in control of the regular season conference title race -- something VCU has never won outright since joining the A-10 -- the Rams must lose one less games than the Wildcats due to Davidson winning the only meeting between these two this season, a road L in Belk arena back in mid-January. A tied conference record and the Cats would leapfrog VCU due to head-to-head tie-breaker rules.

The Rams look like a virtual lock for a top-4 finish, meaning the coveted double-bye in Brooklyn and are competing for an NCAA tournament at-large spot, something most bracketologists have VCU in control of at this point in the season.

VCU got to this position by dominating on the defensive end, currently checking in at No.5 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency and No.3 nationally in raw defensive efficiency, just ahead of teams like UVA and Duke. The black and gold have added a much-improved offense during the majority of their A-10 games as well, going from a sub-1 point per possession offense in the non-conference to now third in A-10 offensive efficiency at 105.9 points per 100 possessions.

Virtually all of VCU's stars including four players in their current starting lineup have been much-improved on the offensive end since conference play began, with Marcus Evans, De'Riante Jenkins, Issac Vann and Marcus Santos-Silva all seeing big jumps in their offensive ratings.

Today's game is, on paper, VCU's most winnable remaining in the regular season.
Scoring Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 71, GW 64.7</span>
Scoring Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 61.9, GW 71.3</span>
Effective Field Goal% Offense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 50.3%, GW 47.2%</span>
Effective Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 42.5%, GW 51.1%</span>

3-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 31.8%, VCU 30.6%</span>
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 26.4%, GW 35.5%</span>
2-Point Field Goal%: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 53.4%, GW 46.9%</span>

2-Point Field Goal% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 43.9%, GW 49.6%</span>
Rebounds per game: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 37.1, GW 33.2</span>
Turnover% Offense: <span style="color: #ff0000;">GW 18.7%, VCU 20.6%</span>
Turnover% Defense: <span style="color: #339966;">VCU 23.4%, GW 17.7%</span>
<h4>VCU WINS IF</h4>
Just two Atlantic 10 teams held the black and gold to 60 or fewer points this season: Davidson and GW.

The Wildcats won their that matchup, the Colonials didn't. Either way, GW's not afraid to mix things up defensively, which seemed to throw the black and gold off in the last matchup, a game that saw the Rams hit just 15% of their 20 three-point attempts.

VCU's defense made sure that didn't matter, so another lockdown performance against a poor Colonials offense should once again go a long way.

Sit down on D, be patient on offense and the Rams should move to a full game ahead of Davidson today in the race for a regular season title.

Kenpom: 73-53 VCU win with a 97% chance of a VCU Rams victory.

Game tips at 2PM at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, VA

Watch: CBS 6.1
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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