Men’s basketball: VCU Preview

By Chuckie Maggio, @ChuckieMaggio

The St. Bonaventure Bonnies conclude regular season play on Saturday night against the VCU Rams at the Siegel Center. The 16-13 Bonnies will face a tough test against the 23-7 Rams, who have had another stellar season thanks to a havoc-wreaking defense and one of the most brilliant coaches in the game. The game is at 7 and will be broadcast on the SNY Network.

The seeding situation for the Atlantic 10 Tournament is almost official for these two teams. VCU will likely be the two-seed no matter what, as one-seeded Saint Louis holds the tiebreaker between the two teams.

Bonaventure will be the eighth seed and face La Salle on Thursday; that matchup is a lock. Therefore, this game doesn’t have seeding implications, but it’s a great chance for the teams to have a solid showing in their last regular season game before Brooklyn. Let’s break it down:

The Coaches:

St. Bonaventure: Mark Schmidt. 104-108 as Bonnies coach, 0-1 vs VCU.

VCU: Shaka Smart. 134-44 as VCU coach (fifth season as Rams head coach)

Key players for VCU:

Juvonte Reddic- 6-9 senior forward. Reddic is my pick for the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award. He’s averaged 8.3 rebounds a game in addition to his 12.5 points and 27 minutes a contest. His basketball IQ is off the charts, he’s shooting 52 percent and his overall ability makes him a projected NBA draft pick. Reddic is a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the court, and he’s going to be a major factor on Saturday.

Treveon Graham- 6-6 junior guard. Graham is the Rams’ leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, and he’s added 7.1 boards as well, making him one of the most complete players in this conference. Expect him and Matthew Wright to go at it throughout the course of the game. Graham may shoot at a higher position, but Wright is much better from the free throw line and is a better passer. The stage should be set for a great matchup.

Melvin Johnson- 6-3 sophomore guard. Johnson is the third Ram to average double-digit points, at 10.5 per game at a 40.2 percent clip. Good scorer and ballhandler off the bench who doesn’t have the most athleticism in the world but works hard to get his points. He’s a sixth man of the year candidate with a nice three point stroke.

Keys to victory:

St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies need to shoot at a high percentage to pull off the upset on the road. VCU holds opponents to a 43 percent shooting and Bonaventure shoots 45.8 percent from the floor. The “havoc defense” Smart always talks about will be out in full force on Saturday, but the Bonnies have to be able to handle the pressure and knock down shots.

SBU has had some road struggles this year, but their wins have been due to shooting well from the floor and putting up points in bunches. To win Saturday, they’re going to have to watch plenty swish through the net.

The Prediction:

83-69 VCU. The Bonnies will put up a valiant effort, but Smart’s team is poised to go deep in not only the A-10 Tournament, but the NCAAs as well. The talent of the Rams will overpower the Brown and White in this matchup, but there will be plenty of positives for Schmidt’s club.

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