RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It’s a rivalry that’s gained a little steam since VCU joined the Atlantic 10 prior to the 2012-2013 season, but the Black and Blue Classic between the Rams and Richmond has always been a highly anticipated showdown among hoops fans in the River City. Wednesday night finds that rivalry renewed at the Siegel Center for the first of two meetings in a two and a half week span.
VCU comes in with a 17-6 marks, 8-2 in the Atlantic 10, and riding a four game winning streak. The Rams are just a half game behind Davidson for the top spot in the conference and can keep pace with a victory on Wednesday. Defense has been the forte for VCU so far, as things have really come together on that side of the ball. The Rams rank 15th nationally in scoring defense (62.6 ppg), third in opponent field goal percentage (37.6) and they lead the country in three-point shooting defense (25.4 percent).
Marcus Evans leads a trio of Rams averaging in double figures in scoring with his 13.3 points per game, but the biggest difference-maker recently may be Marcus Santos-Silva. The forward has posted four double-doubles on the season and ranks sixth in the Atlantic 10 in total rebounds.
As for Richmond, the Spiders are 10-14, 4-7 in conference play, but they’ve won three of their last four contests, including an 81-67 upset of George Mason last Wednesday. While Richmond is averaging nearly 71 points per game, it’s also giving up 70 points per outing, and is struggling on the boards. The Spiders rank 347 out of 351 Division I teams in rebounds per game (29.4).
Grant Golden and Jacob Gilyard are Richmond’s 1-2 punch. Golden averages 17.3 points per contest, good enough for second in the Atlantic 10, while Gilyard is third with 17 points per game. Gilyard is also among the best in the college game in terms of steals, averaging 3.3 per outing.
The Spiders got the best of VCU twice last year, winning at the Siegel Center, 67-52, then coming from behind to nip the Rams at the Robins Center, 77-76, Those wins snapped a six game VCU winning streak in the series.
Tip-off is set for Wednesday night at 7:00 at the Siegel Center.