Two of the top teams in the Atlantic 10 face-off in VCU and Richmond. Who will get the big resume-building victory?
TV Schedule: Wednesday, February 17th, 7:00 PM ET. CBSSN
Arena: Robins Center in Richmond, Virginia
After a very hot start to the season, the Richmond Spiders were 6-1 with power 5 wins over Kentucky, Vanderbilt, and a nice win over Loyola Chicago. Then things started falling apart in conference play. Richmond is now 11-4 (8-2) and is now ranked sixth in the conference standings. The good news for the Spiders is they still have a chance at the NCAA Tournament, but they have some work to do and a victory against their crosstown rival would go a long way.
The Spiders have a multitude of playmakers on a veteran laded team. The leading scorer in this team is senior Blake Francis who averages 16 points, two assists, two rebounds, and one steal on 42% shooting. While Grant Bolden and Tyler Burton add on 13 points a game on 50% shooting. Richmond is then rounded out by Nathan Gilyard and Nathan Cayo who both averaged 11 points a game.
Richmond has a potent offense averaging 77 points a game and has five players that average more than ten points a game. The problem is that Richmond’s defense is abysmal. The Spiders give up 68 points a game good for 138th in the country. A big key for Richmond to win this game is for them to be able to limit VCU just enough for them to win the game.
VCU doesn’t have the same nonconference resume that Richmond has but, they have been able to take care of business in conference play. After starting 3-2 in conference play, the Rams have rattled off five straight wins. Taking commanding control of the conference standings.
VCU is led by sophomore Nah’Shon Hyland who averages 19 points, four rebounds, one assist, and two steals on 43% from the field and 43% from three. His supporting cast is headed by junior Vince Williams who averages 10 points and five rebounds on 43% from the field and 40% from three. Levi Stockard, Jamir Watkins, KeShawn Curry, and Hason Ward are all contributors averaging six points a game.
The Rams offense is okay and is mostly reliant on Nah’Shon Hyland. But the defense might be comparable to the “Havoc” days. As Mike Rhoades unit only allows 65 points a game. The Spiders have a productive offense with multiple scorers. If the Rams want to continue their winning streak, they are going to have to continue to play their stout defense against Richmond’s potent offense.
Expect things to get chippie in this rivalry game. The Rams will need Nah’Shon Harris to come up big. And I think he will put up a big performance against a horrid Richmond defense. The Spiders have had trouble with conference opponents, and I think that continues on Wednesday. Richmond keeps it close for a little bit but, VCU pulls away in the second half. The Rams get a comfortable victory and make’s rival Richmond’s Tournament hopes bleaker.