SPIDERS: Richmond looks for the sweep against VCU

Richmond travels across town to take on #21 VCU in the Siegel Center. The Spiders look to beat the Rams for a second time this season.

  • What: Richmond (17-12, 7-7) vs. VCU (23-6, 11-3)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Wednesday, March 6th at 8:00 PM
  • Watch: CBS Sports Network (Verizon 94 & Comcast 732/854)
  • Listen: ESPN 950

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The struggling Spiders limp home after a disappointing loss to Dayton, only to face #21 VCU in the Siegel Center. You may remember the last time the two met–oh just the biggest Richmond win of the season. On January 24th, in just 37 seconds, the Spiders erased a seven-point deficit, went on to win in overtime, and the students rushed the court. Since that one shining moment, the Spiders have won exactly one road game–and that against conference bottom-dweller Fordham.

The Rundown

OK Spider fans, let’s be clear: this is no easy task in front of Coach Mooney’s squad. If facing the #21 team in the nation wasn’t intimidating enough, Richmond has to do it on the road. And Richmond’s road record is…something (bad). But! Richmond’s record against ranked teams is something (good), too! The Spiders have won eight of the last 13 against ranked teams, including that OT win over then-#19 VCU back in January.

So. Do the Spiders have a chance tonight? Can they pull the upset and improve to 9-5 against ranked teams? Let’s look at it two ways!

Look what happened last time!

Last time, the Rams rolled into The Rob nationally ranked and looking ahead to an important matchup against LaSalle (which they lost). VCU shot an absolutely putrid 17.6% from range, picked up only five steals, and were out rebounded by the Spiders. The Rams’ sharpshooter, Troy Daniels, went 1-of-5 from range, scoring only six points. And the Spiders didn’t even have big-man Derrick Williams, who had just injured his foot!

If it happened once, it can happen again! Richmond is ranked 29th in the nation in 3-point percentage (38%, with four different players averaging over 40% from range), freshman Alonzo Nelson-Ododa ranks 29th in block percentage (10.4%), guard Cedrick Lindsay is coming off a season-high 22 points, and Derrick Williams is back!

Look at…reality?

But guys.

The Rams are fresh off an absolute beat down of #20 Butler. They lead the nation in forcing turnovers and in steal percentage–plus their roster boasts the nation’s top two players in steal percentage (Briante Weber and Darius Theus). When last these two teams met, Troy Daniels was averaging 6.25 PPG over the previous four games–he’s now averaging 14.5 PPG over four games. And finally, this game, while technically in Richmond, is still outside of the comfy confines of The Rob.

The Star: Treveon Graham

15.5 PPG, 6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, .462 FG%, .387 3PFG%

They call him the Freight Train for good reason. At 215 pounds, Graham does a little bit of everything: he can shoot the outside shot, he can drive to the basket, and he rebounds like a champ. He’s had exactly three games this season where he was held to single digits. If he gets going, he’s hard to stop (like a…freight train).

Supporting cast

It’d be easier just to list out the players who aren’t likely to contribute: David Hinton. And, depending on the score, even that guy may get involved.

#10 Darius Theus (G, Senior) • Theus was Coach Shaka Smart’s first recruit. He’s averaging 2.7 SPG and 5.0 APG. He’s not the flashiest player, but the HAVOC system seems to click better when he’s on the court.

#20 Troy Daniels (G, Senior) • Daniels leads the A-10 in 3-pointers made, and he’s sixth in 3FG%. He hit 11 against ETSU, a school record. Thing will go a lot better for the Spiders if Daniels has an off night shooting.

#15 Juvonte Reddic (F, Junior) • Reddic is the Rams’ big-man. He leads the team in rebounds (8.1 per game) and is averaging 14.3 PPG. Dude has seven double-doubles in the last twelve games.

#2 Briante Webeer (G, Sophomore) • Weber embodies HAVOC. He leads the nation in steal percentage and is third in total steals and steals per game–and that’s only playing 21 minutes per game. He’s also developed a penchant for instaclassic steal-dunks.

Stuart C. Siegel Center (7,617; 14 years old) • This will be Richmond’s first conference game in the Siegel Center. Shane Ryan on Grantland just described The Stu as a “cauldron of noise…one of the coolest things I’ve seen at a college basketball game.” Oh also, it’s senior night. Luckily the Spiders played Kansas on the road earlier in the season, so they have some experience with big time road environments.

The Prediction

If the Rams start to shoot poorly, which prevents them from setting up their HAVOC defense, Richmond can start to slow things down and dictate the pace a little. The Spider guards must stay disciplined and find ways to break the press–ways that don’t include throwing the ball out of bounds or handing it directly to Briante Weber. They’ve also got to shoot the dang lights out of the ball.

KenPom gives Richmond a 13% chance of victory, let’s just leave it at that.

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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