#15 Virginia Commonwealth University hosts Maryland Eastern Shore Thursday night at 7:00PM in the Stuart C. Siegel Center.
Once every now and then there is a basketball game worthy of a different approach. Thursday’s matchup is about ramping up the Rams’ confidence and sticking to the process before they head to Brooklyn to face #12 Villanova and either #24 Michigan or Oregon. So the long story short is:
Maryland Eastern Shore is a “developing program.” They rank 347th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 348th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and they lost their first two games of this season by a combined 62 points. On Friday, they lost to a short-handed Virginia Tech by 25 before losing to Villanova by 37 points.
They rank 333rd in offensive turnover percentage. 48.7% of point guard Isaac Smith’s possessions have ended in turnovers and 44.7% of shooting guard Ishaq Pitt’s possessions have ended in turnovers. Sticking with the theme of abandoning the long preview, here are three more things to expect on Thursday:
In addition to gaining confidence, the Rams need to continue to improve. The process is more important than the result, and VCU needs to improve its half-court offense, its half-court defense, and its free-throw shooting. MES is particularly good at drawing fouls. The Rams fouled 28 times against Tennessee and 24 times against Toledo, a repeat performance in a tight game against Villanova probably won’t end with a W.
The Rams have been less than stellar in exempt tournaments. They finished 1-2 in Charleston in 2012, 1-2 in the Bahamas in 2013, and 1-2 last season in Puerto Rico. Thursday is bound to have some flashy Briante Weber moments and a few high-flying dunks, but it’s really a springboard for VCU’s most important event of the fall when they travel to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic. Anything less than a disciplined approach to the process on Thursday in preparation for Villanova will be a loss–regardless of the gaudy margin of victory.
Kenpom picks VCU to win 87-56 with a 99% chance of victory.