Atlantic 10 meets Conference USA Friday as VCU hosts the North Texas Mean Green. Each program topped 20-wins last season, though after a 16-1 start, North Texas lost its last seven contests. Conversely, VCU enjoyed its eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years. This season, both the Rams and Mean Green return experienced cores. Marcus Evans (13.6 ppg) leads VCU’s charge as Umoja Gibson (12.6) paces North Texas’ 19-20’ efforts.
A defensive stalwart, VCU begins their year ranked #25 nationally. Strategic maven Mike Rhoades opens his third season as VCU’s sideline leader.
Grant McCasland also begins his third season patrolling North Texas’ sidelines.
According to pregame.com, VCU opens as a -15 point favorite.
VCU opens season in dominant fashionPicked to repeat as Atlantic 10 champions, VCU returns four starters from 2019 and boasts key supporting pieces. Regulars Evans, De’Riante Jenkins, Issac Vann and Marcos Santo-Silva seek greater success while boosting last year’s #10 ranked NCAA defense (61.9 points allowed). When overhauling a program lacking identity, Rhoades instilled defensive principles among his group and employs a military-style approach to his practices and program regimen.
The Rams displayed those traits while downing St. Francis 72-58 Tuesday. After holding the Red Flash to 32.3 percent shooting, Santo-Silver led all scorers with 21 points. Meanwhile, VCU converted just under 50 percent FG as Jenkins (16) & Evans (12) rounded out the Rams’ leading scorers.
Mean Green seek lost momentumAfter an abrupt collapse last season, and the disappearance of Roosevelt Smart (scoring avg. declined from 19.5 to 10.7) North Texas must reclaim its efficiency. The Mean Green returns three starters: Gibson, Roosevelt and Zachary Simmons. Coach McCasland is relying on steady grad transfer Deng Geu to replace productivity lost by Ryan Woolridge’s (11.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 1.9 spg) transfer to Gonzaga. Geu played a major role in NDSU’s recent NCAA Tournament success and similar results are expected from the 6-8 forward at North Texas.
A collective effort boosted NTU’s 79-40 season-opening win vs. Oklahoma Christian. Seven Mean Green added at least five points. Junior Thomas Bell led all scorers with 16 points as Gibson (12) and junior Zach Simmons (14) reached double figures.
Defensively stifling in their own right, North Texas ranked #16 NCAA while allowing (62.9 ppg).
Trends courtesy of Covers.com
- Mean Green Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Friday games.
- Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
- Rams are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Rams are 1-7-1 ATS in their last 9 Friday games.