There’s no question about it – having the VCU Rams in the Atlantic 10 is great for Rhody and great for the conference as a whole. It just stinks when URI actually has to play them. Rhode Island will take on a VCU team coming off an NCAA Tournament run that saw them bow out in the second round to the eventual runner-up Michigan Wolverines. The Virginia Commonwealth Rams are the consensus preseason favorite in the A-10, and they check in at number 15 in the country in the USA Today Coaches poll that was released earlier this month. So yeah, this would be a huge upset if Rhody wins this one. Can they pull it off?
2012-13 Record: 27-9 (12-4 in the Atlantic 10)
Key Losses: G Troy Daniels, G Darius Theus, G Teddy Okereafor
Key Returners: G Treveon Graham, F Juvonte Reddic, G Rob Brandenberg
Player to Watch: F Juvonte Reddic
You could probably pull any VCU player’s name out of a hat and make an argument that he is the so-called “Player to Watch”. Graham, Brandenberg, and Briante Weber are all worthy of being mentioned in this space, but we’ve opted for Reddic. The 6’9″ power forward is coming off a ridiculous (Reddic-ulous?) season in which he averaged 14.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He also had a field day at the Ryan Center last January, going for 18 points, 12 boards, and a pair of blocked shots. Seven of his rebounds came on the offensive glass as he posted one of his 11 double-doubles for the year. Like many of his teammates, Reddic is the real deal.
Prediction: VCU 74 – Rhode Island 59
Yes, Rhode Island hung with VCU for a majority of the game the last time the two teams squared off. And yes, Rhody is without question a better team this year. But VCU is also (arguably) better, and they’re always dangerous on their home floor. URI may once again hang with them, but a win? A win would be huge. But we just don’t see it happening.