Virginia Commonwealth University will rematch #24 Davidson in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Saturday at 1:30 PM.
- What: VCU (24-9, 12-6) vs. #24 Davidson (24-6, 14-4)
- Where: Barclay’s Center – Brooklyn, New York
- When: Saturday, March 14th at 1:30 PM
- Watch: CBS Sports Network
- Listen: Rams Radio
Davidson enters Saturday on a ten-game winning streak, with the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, and Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. Just eight days ago, the Wildcats throttled VCU 82-55 in a showing of arthroscopic offensive prowess. Davidson is elite on offense and they have improved enough on defense to run the table and give teams a serious threat in the NCAA Tournament.
That doesn’t mean this is impossible. In 2011, George Mason beat VCU 71-51 on February 15th. Just three weeks later, the Rams dominated then #25 George Mason 79-63 in the semifinals of the CAA Tournament, while snapping the Patriots’ 16-game winning streak. Earlier this year, Richmond flattened Davidson 89-63. The Wildcats have responded with a 12-2 record including a 17-point win over Dayton, a 27-point win over VCU, and a 107-78 beatdown of Duquesne.
On Friday, La Salle gave Wildcats a run for their money. The Explorers were effective at attacking the weak Wildcats’ interior and a few 3-pointers went La Salle’s way. It took this heroic shot by Tyler Kalinoski for Davidson to advance:
Most importantly, VCU is getting back to playing VCU basketball. When the Rams hit shots like they did against Richmond, their confidence and swagger become tangible, they have more opportunities to press, and they better dictate tempo. If that happens, then something as daunting as stopping dominating Davidson is possible.
The Wildcats are an offensive juggernaut. Their starting five players are 258-of-633 (.408) from 3-point range including 50-of-109 (.459) from Jack Gibbs and 82-of-195 (.421) from Tyler Kalinoski.
On top of that, they rank 19th nationally in 2-point shooting percentage and 3rd nationally in offensive turnover percentage. Despite giving up size and athleticism at almost every position, Davidson boasts the 10th most efficient adjusted offense according to KenPom.com.
The good news for VCU: Davidson is terrible at defense. They rank 164th in adjusted defensive efficiency and have given up 86 points to Charlotte, 90 points to UNC, and 99 points to Montana, but they have made serious progress in conference play.
Davidson has made up for all of its defensive deficiencies by straight up outscoring opponents. If the running and gunning, up-tempo, non-defense playing Wildcats aren’t the most fun opponent imaginable for VCU, then you don’t have a pulse or you’re a Wisconsin fan.
THE STAR: #4 Tyler Kalinoski
16.9 PPG (93-177 2PFG, 82-195 3PFG, 58-72 FT), 5.7 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 1.4 TOPG
He’s the 2015 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and requires attention on every square inch of the court, but he punishes defenders who over help with his ability to get others involved. He has 38 points (8-14 2PFG, 5-15 3PFG, 7-9 FT), 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 5 turnovers against VCU this year.
#4 Jack Gibbs (PG, Sophomore) • After missing seven games with an injury, the sophomore scoring/shooting sensation is returning to full strength at the right time. He’s 16-of-27 from 3-point range and has 24 assists over the last four games.
#3 Brian Sullivan (SG, Sophomore) • A Miami (Ohio) transfer, he’s the third piece of Davidson’s three-headed back court monster. He’s only 5-foot-11, but he’s hit 55 3-pointers in A-10 play and is averaging 15.5 PPG over that stretch.
#23 Peyton Aldridge (F, Freshman) • This team wouldn’t be lapping expectations without the contributions of its freshmen front-court. Aldridge is a talented stretch four. His scoring is down, but he’s capable of going off for 15 points and 8 rebounds on any given night.
#5 Jordan Barham (G, Junior) • He scored in single-figures in all six Davidson losses. Fortunately he’s averaging 14.5 PPG during Davidson’s ten game winning streak. He had 14 rebounds against VCU on 3/5.
KenPom picks Davidson to win 75-74 with a 44% chance of victory.
- Location: Davidson, NC
- Enrollment: ~1,850
- Conference: A-10
- All-time Series Davidson leads 2-1.
- Last Meeting 3/5/2015. Davidson won 82-55.