What a day for Virginia basketball. Two top ten teams came to the state to play games on Saturday. The Virginia Cavaliers hosted the fourth ranked Syracuse Orange in Charlottesville. Meanwhile, only an hour and fifteen minute ride down I-64, the number ten Saint Louis Billikens came to Richmond to play the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. Both road teams came to the state for lovers seeking a quality win, and both came up short.
Virginia won 75 to 56 to lock up their first ACC title in 30 years. It seemed to be a day in which the Cavaliers would own the spot light, but the Rams did everything in their power to earn some national attention as well. They matched with a 67 to 56 win.
Shaka Smart had his “HAVOC” defense on full display at the Stuart Siegal Center. Saint Louis (25-4, 12-2 A 10) never looked comfortable. They turned the ball over 17 times to the six committed by VCU (22-7, 10-4 A 10). The swarming pressure when their opponent has possession is what everyone familiar with Smart’s system has become accustomed to. His team seemingly never runs out of energy and this is especially the case when they play in front of their home fans.
Junior guard Treveon Graham led the way with a well-rounded performance. He had 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Six different Rams recorded a steal in the contest with the leader in takeaways was Briante Weber with 4. Jordair Jett led the way for the Billikens with 18 points.
After losing three of four, VCU has now bounced back nicely with its second win in a row and cemented itself as a lock for the Big Dance. Saint Louis on the other is starting to show chinks in its armor. After rolling through 19 games in a row without a loss they are currently on a two game skid. First, they fell to the lowly Duquesne Dukes and now tonight’s defeat. The road will not get easier as they finish out the regular season against a quality Dayton Flyers team and the NCAA bound Massachusetts Minutemen.
It is certainly a great day to be a basketball fan from Virginia. Both the Cavaliers and Rams seem poised to bust a bracket or two in March. On the flip side, Syracuse and Saint Louis both need to recover from some struggles that they have yet to experience in this year’s campaign.