There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview one of the more interesting 5-12 matchups between underrated Wichita State and last year’s Final Four darling VCU.
Wichita State-VCU Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU in South Region
- Wichita State-VCU Date: Thursday, March 15th
- Wichita State-VCU Tip Time: 7:15 ET
- Wichita State-VCU Location: Portland
- Wichita State-VCU TV: CBS
- Wichita State-VCU Announcers: Brian Anderson and Dan Bonner
- Wichita State-VCU Point Spread: Wichita State -6
- Tickets: Wichita State-VCU Tickets
- Tickets: All Portland Sessions
- Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Atlanta
Wichita State-VCU Analysis and Prediction
This is one of the first round games I am looking forward to the most. It’s too bad that the selection committee has a cruel sense of humor, because they set up this early matchup between two of the best mid-majors in the field.
Defense will be the name of the game in this one, with both teams ranking in the Top 30 in defensive efficiency. The Rams want to press and push the tempo, but with veteran guards like Toure’ Murry and Joe Ragland, don’t expect Wichita State to get rattled easily. The difference here will be Wichita State’s offense, which has been much more efficient than VCU’s this season, particularly on the interior where guys like Garrett Stutz and Carl Hall should be able to hit the glass and take advantage of VCU’s relatively poor two-point defense.
The Shockers just have too much experience and too many offensive weapons, and VCU’s poor shooting will plague them against Wichita State’s equally stingy defense.
Andy’s Wichita State-VCU Prediction: Wichita State
Note: in his NCAA Tournament upset picks post, Jerod also picked Wichita State to win.
Wichita State Shockers Team Capsule
- Conference: Missouri Valley
- Record: 27-5 (16-2 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 4-3
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Colorado, Creighton, Davidson, UNLV
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama, Creighton, Temple
- Player to Watch: Garrett Stutz (7’0” C, Sr.) – 13.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 55.6 FG%
Wichita State Bottoms Line:
The Shockers seem to have all the ingredients needed to make a deep run in the tournament.
They have a roster full of veteran contributors and rank in the Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They shoot the ball well from two-point range, three-point range, and the free throw line, and they don’t hurt themselves with turnovers. Wichita State also doesn’t force many miscues, but they are in the Top 10 in defensive rebounding percentage and seldom allow uncontested shots.
Garrett Stutz gives them a solid presence inside, as the senior big man is fantastic on the defensive glass and shoots over 58 percent on two-pointers. He’s complemented outside by the backcourt duo of Joe Ragland and Toure’ Murry. Ragland’s offensive rating is in the Top 10 nationally, and he’s gone off in multiple games this year thanks to his deadeye shooting. Murry is more of a slasher, but he has a solid assist rate and does a nice job getting to the stripe. Four other Shockers log at least 20 minutes per game, so depth isn’t an issue either.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams Team Capsule
- Conference: Colonial
- Record: 28-6 (15-3 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-1
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: South Florida, Western Kentucky (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Alabama
- Player to Watch: Bradford Burgess (6’6″ G/F, Sr.) – 13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.5 apg
Virginia Commonwealth Bottoms Line:
The Rams got off to a slow start with a disappointing performance in the Charleston Classic, but they won 17 of their last 18 games, including a three-point win in the CAA Championship Game.
VCU isn’t a particularly good shooting team, as evidenced by their 47.5 effective field goal percentage, which ranks outside of the Top 200. However, they take good care of the basketball and have solid depth with eight players logging at least 15 minutes per game.
Bradford Burgess leads the team in scoring and has attempted over 200 three-pointers this season, while 6-foot-9 soph Juvonte Reddic gives the team a solid presence inside. Throw in the play of Darius Theus at the point and the timely shooting of Troy Daniels and you have a team capable of pulling an upset or two.
VCU’s calling card is its defense, which ranks first in the nation in turnover rate and steal percentage. Their in-your-face press and “havoc” defense can really exploit teams without strong ballhandlers and decision-makers. On defense, keep an eye on freshman Briante Weber, who leads the nation with a ridiculous 7.1 steal percentage.
While offensive struggles will prevent a repeat of last year’s Cinderella run, the Rams definitely have the pieces to win a game or two.
Related: Jump to our South Region Bracket Breakdown.
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama