#25 Virginia Commonwealth University looks to maintain its hold on 1st place in the Atlantic 10 when it hosts Massachusetts on Saturday, February 21st at 12:00 PM.
- What: #VCU (20-6, 13-5) vs. Massachusetts (16-10, 9-4)
- Where: Stuart C. Siegel Center
- When: Saturday, February 21st at noon
- Watch: ESPN 2
- Listen: Rams Radio
Don’t blink. If you do, you’ll miss the unexpected in the Atlantic 10. Despite an underwhelming 10-9 start and losses to Florida Gulf Coast, St. Bonaventure, and Saint Joseph’s, UMass caught the Atlantic 10 off guard an snuck into first place a week ago. Were the Minutemen, who were riding a six game winning streak, the real deal or just pretenders?
On Wednesday, their streak ended with a 75-59 loss at Rhode Island which confirmed suspicions that their success was a little misleading. Saturday, UMass will face another difficult road test as they visit the Stuart C. Siegel Center and they still have games against Richmond and George Washington. Coach Derek Kellogg’s team has outpaced expectations that were established when they lost five of six games earlier this season, they’ve shown an ability to keep games close, and their ability to draw fouls means they can beat almost any team in the country, but the trek to contend will be treacherous moving forward.
Prior to Saturday’s tip-off, VCU will retire Bradford Burgess’s jersey. Burgess decorated the Stuart C. Siegel Center while setting the NCAA record for consecutive starts and piling up a heap of wins.
Be sure to show up early and enjoy the hanging of a jersey, something that has only happened four times in VCU history.
Massachusetts still runs-and-guns like the Minutemen of season’s past, but the graduation of point guard Chaz Williams as well as Sampson Carter and Raphiael Putney has limited UMass. The Minutemen excel at drawing fouls, but have struggled with 3-point shooting, turnovers, and rebounding.
The Minutemen are 116-of-379 from 3-point range, turn the ball over on 20.6% of possessions, and have been abused on the defensive glass. With Treveon Graham getting healthier, role-players maturing, and the Siegel Center raucous, it’s going to be tough for the Minutemen, who are 4-6 on the road, to win.
THE STAR: #12 Trey Davis
11.7 PPG (55-119 2PFG, 41-125 3PFG, 70-85 FT), 3.6 APG, 0.9 SPG, 1.9 TOPG
UMass simply isn’t as good without Chaz Williams, but Davis is maturing into a solid point guard during his junior campaign. He’s capable of putting up 26 points when his 3-point shot is falling, but he’s also streaky and can shoot the Minutemen straight out of the gym.
#0 Donte Clark (G, Freshman) • He’s one of the premier freshmen in the conference. He’s averaging 9 points per game.
#2 Derrick Gordon (G, Junior) • He’s a physical guard who’s capable of scoring, but he lacks any 3-point shooting.
#1 Maxie Esho (F, Senior) • He’s a long and athletic forward who has the tools to defend Treveon Graham – well, as well as anyone. He was a go-to guy early in the season, but his role has diminished. With Briante Weber injured, Coach Smart says he’s the most energetic player in the conference.
#25 Cady Lalanne (F, Senior) • He’s one of the premier big men in the Atlantic 10 and he’s averaging 11.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, and 2.0 BPG.
#4 Jabarie Hinds (G, Junior) • He’s the last of six players who have scored between 303 and 204 points this season for UMass. He’s easy to forget, but he’s almost as capable as everyone else on the roster at scoring.
KenPom picks VCU to win 75-64 with an 86% chance of victory.
- Location: Amherst, MA
- Enrollment: ~27,300
- Conference: A-10
- All-time Series VCU leads 2-1.
- Last Meeting 1/21/2014. UMass won 80-75.