What to expect: SLU-VCU, rankings don’t matter, this is about history

Forget about the #10 ranking. This is the second most anticipated game in the history of the Siegel Center because of familiarity, respect, and a basketball product that rivals any conference in the country.

  • What: VCU (21-7, 9-4) vs. Saint Louis (25-3, 12-1)
  • Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
  • When: Saturday, March 1st at 6:00 PM
  • Watch: ESPN2 (Comcast 5, 851HD; Verizon 74, 574HD)
  • Listen: Rams Radio

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#10 Saint Louis University visits the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Saturday at 6:00 PM to face the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. The Billikens are the third ranked team to visit the Siegel Center, but the importance of the little number next to their name pales in comparison to the two teams’ recent history.

The Rundown

Who knew in 2010 when VCU beat Saint Louis twice in the CBI Tournament finals that it would be the first chapter in a quickly written epic between two banner teams outside of the traditional “power conferences”? Forget the rankings. Forget the “power conference” label. Saturday is a game between two of the best teams in the nation with two very distinct styles of play and plenty of inner-season history.

Entering the season, it was one of the most anticipated games in the history of the Siegel Center. Then on February 15th the two teams played one of the best games of the season: a 64-62 win for the Billikens that was a game worthy of the matchup.

364 days after hosting #20 Butler, Saturday is probably the second most anticipated game in the history of 1200 W. Broad Street. Who didn’t circle this game on the calendar back in October? Tents are pitched by the student entrance, and Shakaville is in full effect despite a new ticketing system that guarantees entrance to students with tickets.

It probably won’t end with a 32-point margin, the national audience tuning out before halftime, and Brad Stevens sadly gazing at the court while seated on the bench. No, Jordair Jett has already proven himself a worthy foe of HAVOC!. The Rams have already proven able of going punch for punch with one of the grittiest and stingiest teams in the nation. This is going to be a much better basketball game.

Forget about the ranking. This game is the game because of familiarity, respect, and a basketball product that rivals any conference in the country.

The Team

Saint Louis on average is pedestrian on offense, but they have good balance and Jordair Jett, Dwayne Evans, and Rob Loe create some serious mismatch issues. They boast five players averaging 8.1+ PPG. They rank 98th in offensive turnover percentage, and their guard play is mature enough to frustrate HAVOC!.

Defense is how the Billikens win games. When your coaching grandfathers are Robert Montgomery Knight and Rick Majerus, anything less than stout man-to-man defense would be considered a crime. SLU ranks 5th in adjusted defensive efficiency thanks to solid defense inside and outside the arc, the ability to force turnovers, and physical rebounding.

Dwayne Evans and Jordair Jett are two of the best individual defenders in the nation and Rob Loe has a special ability to defend the paint. The key to success for VCU is going to be scoring in transition before SLU can even set up their half court defense.

The Star: #5 Jordair Jett

13.8 PPG (126-239 2PFG, 7-31 3PFG), 4 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.6 SPG


Jett played 37 minutes en route to a 14 point, 6 rebound, 5 assist, 3 turnover, 2 block, and 1 steal afternoon against VCU on 2/15. 3 turnovers in 37 minutes against HAVOC! while also slowing down VCU’s perimeter is an incredible accomplishment and it was a huge difference between W and L for the Billikens.

At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Jett is a tough matchup at point guard. His combination of speed and strength is really unique to the position. He doesn’t have much of a jump shot but he has an incredible knack for getting in the lane where he can score or dish. He ranks 25th nationally in assist percentage, and stopping him needs to be priority number one on Saturday.

Supporting Cast

#11 Mike McCall (SG, Senior) • McCall is Saint Louis’ x-factor against the press. What Jett lacks in explosive athleticism, McCall makes up for, and he is one of the better secondary ball-handlers in the conference. He went 2-of-3 from 3-point range in the first meeting. If one of those rims out, VCU probably goes home the victor.

#30 Jake Barnett (G, Senior) • Barnett’s stats aren’t impressive, but he’s the perfect example of why Saint Louis is so dangerous: their identity as a group is bigger than any individual piece. SLU is a perfect 19-1 since he replaced Reggie Agbeko in the starting lineup.

#21 Dwayne Evans (G/F, Senior) • Evans finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the first meeting while being a key piece in SLU’s suffocating defense. His defense is a magic hat where 3-point shooters go to disappear, and he has the physical tools to match Treveon Graham blow for blow on both ends of the court.

#51 Rob Loe (C, Senior) • Loe is great at defending the paint, and he has the skills to guard Juvonte Reddic. His late 3-pointer on 2/15 was the insurmountable blow to VCU’s pride inspiring comeback.

#2 Austin McBroom (PG, Sophomore) • McBroom is one year and a starter’s opportunity away from being a big name in the A-10. He’s in the midst of a slump, but he and JeQuan Lewis will both motivated after entirely underwhelming performances on 2/15 – the backup point guard subplot emerges.

The Prediction

This game promises to be another incredible battle between two very good basketball teams. At home, Saint Louis wins. On a neutral court these two probably tie. In the Siegel Center, VCU wins 9 times out of 10. Expect the Rams to be able to get out and run more than they did in Chaifetz en route to a 75-65 win. KenPom picks VCU to win 69-64 with a 69% chance of victory.

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Saint Louis Profile

  • Location: Saint Louis, MO
  • Enrollment: ~13,800
  • Conference: A-10
  • All time series: SLU leads 3-2.
  • Last meeting: 2/15/2014. SLU won 64-62.

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Aaron Williams

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

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