Virginia Cavaliers (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS, 1-1 O/U) at VCU Rams (2-2 SU)
Line: Virginia -7
Virginia and VCU don’t play often enough. These two teams last played in 2014 with UVa winning, 74-57, but they’ve only played four times during the last 20 years. This season, VCU is 2-0, defeating Grambling (94-6) on Friday and North Florida (95-85) on Monday. The Cavs defeated UNCG (60-48) last Friday and Austin Peay (93-49) on Monday. These two teams face each other at the Siegel Center in Richmond on Friday.
Bennett has to rebuild
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers will have a new look this season thanks to the graduation of star guard London Perrantes and the transfer of three other plays. In Virginia’s win over Austin Peay, freshman De’Andre Hunter (6-7, 222) stepped up with 13 points in 21 minutes. Freshman Jay Huff (7-1, 230) didn’t play in the opener against UNC Greensboro but had 16 points and five blocks in 24 minutes against the Governors.
The key for the Cavs is senior Devon Hall, who scored a career-high 19 points against Austin Peay. He’s the team’s most experienced player and leading returning scorer, having averaged 8.4 points per game last season. Sophomore Kyle Guy (7.5ppg) is another experienced play, who is averaging 15 points per game in his first two. As usual, the Virginia defense is strong as ever as they allow just 48.5 points per game and 34.7 percent shooting in the first two games.
Rams are also young
VCU returns just one starter from a 26-9 team. Mike Rhodes takes over as coach, replacing Will Wade, who left for LSU. So the Rams have lost Shaka Smart to Texas and Wade to LSU over the last four years. Rhodes was an assistant to Smart on VCU’s 2011 Final Four team. The big question is whether the program can continue it’s incredible consistency having won 24 or more games over the last seven seasons.
On Monday, the Rams got by North Florida led by Justin Tillman’s 27 points on 13-of-17 shooting. Tillman (6-7, 220) is VCU’s best player, who averaged 12.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. They get a grad transfer in 6-7, 250-pound Khris Lane, who is averaging 14 points and six boards. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.7 rebounds last season with Longwood. But this program has been highlighted by it’s pressure defense and tremendous guards. One of those guards is 6-1 Jonathan Williams, a senior, who averaged 8.3 points and 3.1 assists, mainly off the bench last season. This season, Williams is averaging 12.5 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
- 1-4 ATS last 5 overall.
- 2-9 ATS last 11 vs. Atlantic Ten.
- 10-1 ATS last 11 Friday games.
- 6-1 ATS last 7 after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
Have to give Tony Bennett a lot of credit for playing VCU on the road. That’s a very tough place to play and he’s giving his young team a tough situation. That’s something that could really help them down the road in ACC play and in the postseason. But on Friday, it won’t help him because that crowd at the Siegel Center will be deafening.