Randy Bennett has been an institution for St. Mary’s, as he is enjoying his 16th year as the head coach of the Gaels. This is the first NCAA appearance in awhile, as the Gaels had to settle for the NIT the last few years. Meanwhile, Will Wade and the Rams are in the Big Dance for the second straight year under his leadership. VCU has the depth to play its in-your-face brand of basketball, which is why the Rams have become a consistent NCAA team.
St. Mary’s vs. VCU Game Preview
Date: March 16
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
St. Mary’s Strengths
Saint Mary’s has one of the best players on the West Coast in Jock Landale. Though he doesn’t get a lot of recognition, he has the potential to lead the Gaels to a deep run in the Big Dance and burst onto the national scene. St. Mary’s is a great passing team that uses impressive ball movement to create open looks.
St. Mary’s Weaknesses
The Gaels only have two wins against RPI Top 50 teams (Nevada and Dayton). Their lack of competition in both the conference and non-conference slate won’t do them any favors in the Tournament.
St. Mary’s Gaels In-Depth Analysis
Consider the following: VCU suited nine players who played in 30+ games and averaged double-digit minutes. This is a deep, deep team. If freshman De’Riante Jenkins can heal up enough for the NCAA Tournament that’ll make them even deeper. Fielding one of the nation’s best scoring margins (8.6), the Rams have a lockdown defense that bleeds opponents dry. VCU is a scrappy club that forced just over 15 turnovers per game in the regular season, meaning the Rams could feast on an inexperienced club that tightens under the pressure of March Madness.
They’re on the right side of the rebound margin (+2.3), but the Rams can still get pushed around on the blocks, especially on offensive boards. With 4/1 blocks per game, the Rams can cause a little havoc down low. However, this is a team that could get punished by a strong frontcourt.
St. Mary’s vs. VCU By The Numbers
St. Mary’s Statistics
Scoring Margin: 16.6 (4th nationally)
Rebounding Margin: 9.7 (3)
Turnover Margin: -1.0 (246)
3-Point FG Percentage: 39.9% (17)
Scoring Margin: – 8.6 (44)
Rebounding Margin: – 2.3 (111)
Turnover Margin: 2.3 (42)
3-Point FG Percentage: 33.1% (268)
St. Mary’s vs. VCU Prediction
The Gaels didn’t face the best competition in the West Coast Conference, but that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a solid team. The problem is that the Gaels will be going up against a deep Rams squad that loves to play defense. That ‘D’ is the difference in this one.
St. Mary’s vs. VCU Score Prediction: VCU 66, St. Mary’s 58