What to expect: VCU will face tough road test in Curb Event Center

VCU is familiar with the power of home-court advantage. On Sunday, they visit one of the toughest venues in the nation.

  • What: VCU (5-2, 0-0) vs. Belmont (7-1, 0-0)
  • Where: Curb Event Center
  • When: Sunday, November 30th at 5:00 PM
  • Watch: Comcast SportNet, CBS 6.3
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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Virginia Commonwealth University travels to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the Belmont Bruins on Sunday evening.

The Rundown

Virginia Commonwealth University knows a thing or two about home-court advantage. The Stuart C. Siegel Center is on a 38 consecutive game sell-out streak and it ranks twelfth in the nation for winning percentage at .862. On Sunday, the Rams visit an arena with a similar reputation. Belmont hasn’t lost at the Curb Event Center since January 6th, 2012. The Bruins own an NCAA-leading 23-game home winning streak, but Sunday promises to be their toughest test ever in the 10-year history of the arena.

The Team

Belmont boasts one of the most efficient offenses in the nation. They’ve only scored less than 81 points once all season and it was in a loss to Richmond, their only loss all season. On November 17th, they beat #12 UNC in Chapel Hill 83-80.

Belmont ranks 10th in 2-point shooting percentage and 77th in 3-point shooting percentage. Like most Rick Byrd teams, they can shoot with the best of them. They start four talented 3-point shooters and their fifth man is shooting .632 from 2-point range. Fortunately for VCU, Ian Clark has graduated since finishing a perfect 10 of 10 from the field against the Rams last season.

The way the Rams have been shooting recently, VCU will need to force turnovers in order to keep up with Belmont’s scoring. The two chinks in Belmont’s armor are their defensive rebounding and their responsibility with the basketball. VCU excels at exploiting those weaknesses. Sunday, they will need to more than ever.

The Stars: #24 JJ Mann & #1 Drew Windler

J.J. Mann didn’t have a great game against VCU last season, but he has been brilliant this season. He’s averaging 18.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG. He has many of the same physical tools as Treveon Graham and he is doing a great job filling the void left by five graduating centers.

Windler is a nightmare matchup. He’s a 6-foot-9 center who is 23 of 36 (.639) from 3-point range this season. The Rams have defenders who can guard Windler, but it only takes him a few open looks to do serious damage. On Tuesday, he finished a perfect 7 of 7 from the field including four 3-pointers.

Supporting Cast

#22 Reece Chamberlain (PG, Junior) • Chamberlain is a doing a good job replacing Keron Johnson who had an incredible career for the Bruins. He’s poised, he can shoot it, and he’s an effective on-ball defender. Briante Weber winning this matchup is a key to victory.

#23 Craig Bradshaw (SG, Sophomore) • Bradshaw is shooting .433 from 3-point range and he’s their third most dangerous threat from range. Get the point?

#2 Blake Jenkins (F, Senior) • Jenkins is the only Bruin starter who lacks a 3-point shot, but he is an efficient scorer inside the paint. The Bruins aren’t effective rebounders, but Jenkins is really good at grabbing offensive rebounds and getting put-back buckets. His skill on the glass and the Bruins’ outside shooting is a scary combination.

The Prediction

This has the makings of the kind of game when an opponent can’t miss against VCU, but the Rams somehow find a way to win. Expect Belmont to shoot a higher percentage, but the Rams to take more shots. The difference in shot attempts will be the decider and I think VCU can squeak out a quality road win. KenPom.com picks Belmont to win 81-80 with a 55% chance of victory.

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Belmont Profile

  • Location: Nashville, TN
  • Enrollment: 6,647 (Private)
  • Conference: Ohio Valley Conference
  • All time series: VCU leads 1-0
  • Last meeting: 12/1/12. VCU won 75-65.

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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