VCU vs. Rhode Island: Why both teams really need this win

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Today’s a big day for VCU and Rhode Island as the two teams prepare to showdown in Kingston. Kenpom gives the home team a 60% chance of winning, but the way VCU has been playing recently, this feels like a 50/50 toss up game. This is an enormous contest for both teams, and here’s why.

Rhode Island needs another good win for a tourney bid

Does Rhode Island have a resume deserving of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid? Absolutely not. The Rams are 18-9 with one really good win (Cincinnati) and a few bad losses (vs. La Salle, vs. Fordham). At 18-9, this team is just 3-7 against the RPI Top 100, and it’s missed out on some big opportunities. The Rams lost by 3 at Dayton and by 1 at home a month later. The Rams had 3 point road losses to Providence and Valparaiso this season, and they also lost to Houston by a mere 5. Had the Rams pulled some of these out, they’d be dancing.

Lucky for Rhode Island, a lot of bubble teams have been losing recently. Recent bracketology posts have had ACC teams with 13 or 14 losses right on the bubble. Needless to say, the bubble is pretty awful this year. Rhode Island hasn’t done itself any favors, but it keeps getting second chances. This game right here may be the Rams’ last “second chance” for a possible at-large bid. Lose at home against VCU, and it’s A-10 tourney or bust.

A definite key to making the NCAA Tournament is having beaten tourney teams throughout the regular season. The Rams have taken down Cincinnati, but after that, they’re best wins are against Belmont and St. Bonaventure. VCU is a tournament team this year, and a win over the Rams will help propel Rhode Island a little closer to the bubble. Rhode Island could beat VCU, do well in the A-10 Tournament, and still miss the Big Dance. We really don’t know how the Selection Committee is going to value teams this year, especially one like Rhode Island that has failed to grab many big wins. Beat VCU, and the Rams will at least have another bullet point on their resume.

VCU still has a chance to win the A-10 regular season title

VCU still has a legitimate shot at winning the A-10 regular season title, and a lot of this will depend on whether or not the Rams pull one out in Kingston. Though VCU owns the head-to-head over Dayton as of right now, the two teams still have to play once more, this time in UD Arena. If Dayton manages to get a game ahead of VCU, it’s going to be much easier for the Flyers to take the regular season title and get a leg up on the Rams.

Though bragging rights are on the line, seeding for the Atlantic 10 Tournament is also on the line. The Rams are going to want to grab that 1 seed in Pittsburgh that will give them a better chance of winning the A-10 Tournament. VCU gets to face some great competition before heading into the postseason, and this is a great opportunity to get some momentum before the Atlantic 10 Tournament. VCU is going to come out swinging.

Bottom line: this should be a great game between two teams that are battling for their respective goals. While this game might mean a little more to Rhode Island than it does VCU, you should expect both sides to be playing with the same level of urgency. Be sure to tune in for this one today. It’ll be one for the ages.

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About Author

Grant Labedz is a college basketball superfan who loves the entire sport but definitely has favorites in the A-10 and the Big Ten. He has written for SB Nation's BT Powerhouse (Big Ten Basketball) and The Champaign Room (Illinois Basketball). He also co-founded his own Illinois Basketball blog called The Groce Report. Grant is a member of the Davidson Class of 2020. Shoot him an email at [email protected] Follow @GrantLabedz

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