Game Preview: VCU v Wofford

[caption id="attachment_12152" align="alignright" width="300"]<a href=""><img class="size-medium wp-image-12152" alt="Freshman, JeQuan Lewis, the A-10 Rookie of the Week, looks to continue his hot streak when the Rams take on Wofford." src="" width="300" height="152" /></a> Freshman, JeQuan Lewis, the A-10 Rookie of the Week, looks to continue his hot streak when the Rams take on Wofford.[/caption]

VCU looks to get back on track tonight against a Wofford Terrier team that has taken their lumps against a number of formidable opponents. The Rams are coming off a loss against an always tough Northern Iowa program while Wofford plays their second-straight game against an A-10 opponent, haven recently fallen at Saint Louis, 66-52, despite hanging with the Billikens for much of the night.

VCU (8-3)
Wofford (3-6)[/HEADING=3]

There's no sugar-coating it, the Terriers have been dreadful across the board this season. Following a postseason appearance in March of 2012, Wofford has been in rebuilding mode but have seen more rain than workdays the past year (minus a head-scratching road win at Xavier). The Terriers have just one D1 win this season, a 3-point road W over the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb. The Mike Young-led squad have struggled to hit shots, ranking sub-300 in two and three-point shooting as well as effective field goal percentage (330th nationally), and have struggled to defend in the halfcourt, giving up 57.4% shooting to opposing teams inside the arc (339th nationally). What they have done well is turn teams over a VCU-like 21.3% of their possessions, which bumps their adjusted defensive efficiency up to 125th nationally despite being so easy to score on otherwise. The Terriers are led by 6'4 sophomore guard, Spencer Collins. Collins is the only Wofford player averaging double-digit scoring this season at 14.7 points per contest. They are a fairly undersized group as well, led by 6'6 212 lb junior, Lee Skinner in the paint. Skinner averages a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game and chips in 9.4 ppg for Wofford.

The Rams have been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all season, and even half to half. This year's team returned a ton of talent from last season's NCAA tournament squad that won 27 games to just 9 total losses, which is what has most Ram fans so frustrated at times. The talent is there, and there is a ton of experience as well, yet despite returning their top two scorers and rebounders VCU has yet to really put it together. Without the presence of graduated sharp-shooter Troy Daniels, teams have often dared VCU to beat them from deep, which has proven to be an effective strategy as the Rams are 2-3 in games in which senior big, Juvonte Reddic, has been held under 10 points. The two wins in that bag were by a combined six points, one game being a home overtime win over Eastern Kentucky. The Rams have been their usual havoc-wreaking selves, turning teams over 27% of their possessions (3rd nationally) while stealing the ball 17% of their opponents possessions (1st nationally) but have otherwise struggled to defend, giving up 52.6% shooting inside the arc this season (273rd nationally). One real bright spot however (besides the 8 wins that included an all-time satisfying dagger over UVA), has been the growth of freshman guard, JeQuan Lewis, who is averaging 11.5 points in 17.75 minutes while shooting 53.5% from the floor, 56% from three-point land over these last four games. Lewis' effective field goal percentage of 61.7% is the highest on the team and has been one of the best offensive performances by a Ram averaging 10-plus minutes per game in many years, including higher than all four of Eric Maynor's seasons as a Ram.

Scoring Offense: VCU 75.9, WOF 63.3
Scoring Defense: WOF 65.6, VCU 68
Effective Field Goal% Offense: VCU 48.8%, WOF 43.8%
Effective Field Goal% Defense: VCU 51.1%, WOF 54.7%
3-Point Field Goal%: VCU 35.2%, WOF 29.1%
3-Point Field Goal% Defense: VCU 32.1%, WOF 32.4%
Rebounds per game: VCU 35.9, WOF 32.2
Turnover Percentage Defense: VCU 27%, WOF 21.3%
Turnover Percentage Offense: 18.7%, WOF 20.6%

The Rams, like any team, are much better when shots fall. VCU needs those shots more than most however to be able to setup what's been an incredibly effective press. When the Rams aren't making shots and can't setup their press, it hasn't been pretty. I would expect any coach who's watched any bit of film to pack the paint against the Rams, forcing the black and gold to rely on scorers not named Reddic or Graham. If some combination of Graham, Brandenberg, Weber, Lewis, Johnson and Burgess can loosen what should be endless zone looks, VCU should have a good night and stay undefeated at home, hopefully in impressive fashion. VCU needs to show a much improved halfcourt defense as well.

I hate writing the game plan for a Rams loss but I trust the Wofford coaching staff does their homework, so they'll know this already: Attack the paint on offense, guard it on defense. Play a 2-3 or match-up zone and deny Reddic ANY inside looks on defense, SPREAD the floor and use your guards to attack attack attack on offense. There's the game plan all year for beating VCU. Oh yeah, and hold on to the ball.

Vegas Insider Consensus: VCU 19-point favorite

Watch: CBS 6.3. Official watch parties at Baja Bean Co. in the Fan as well as Buffalo Wild Wings locations at Virginia Center and downtown on Cary Street in Shockoe Bottom.
Listen: <a title="FM 107.3" href="">107.3FM</a>
Live Tweets:¬†<a title="@VCURamNation" href="">@VCURamNation</a>​

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Licensed Virginia Realtor and part-time basketball writer. Co-founder of and
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Mat Shelton-Eide
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