#7 St. Mary’s vs. #10 VCU
Thursday, March 16 7:20 PM ET TBS
(28-4, 16-2 WCC)
Player to Watch: Calvin Hermanson
Hermanson is a high IQ basketball player. He always makes the right play, and makes his teammates better. Hermanson is SMC’s second leading scorer with 13 points per game. He is also deadly from behind the arc, as he shoots 43.7%.
X Factor: Cause Turnovers
VCU’s Jequan Lewis has been prone to turning the ball over all season. He has a total of 84 on the season. Causing Lewis to turn the ball over will keep the ball out of Justin Tillman’s hands which will make the job for the SMC big men much easier.
(26-7, 14-4 Atlantic 10)
Player to Watch: Justin Tillman
Tillman is an absolute beast of a big man. He is just short of averaging a double-double, and he shoots 59% from the floor.
X Factor: Annoy Jock Landale
Jock Landale does everything for the Gaels. He is the team leader in scoring, rebounding, and field goal percentage. All VCU needs to do is get him out of his comfort zone. They can do this by being very physical, showing double teams, etc. They need to do anything that will bother him.
Match-Up to Watch
Jock Landale (St. Mary’s) vs. Justin Tillman (VCU):
This could be one of the best 1-on-1 match-ups of the entire 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Landale and Tillman are two of the best big men in the country that only a few people have heard of. They are both fundamentally sound big men that play physically on both ends of the floor. Jock and Justin lead their respective squads in rebounding and field goal percentage. They are not scoring threats outside of the paint, so their scoring contributions will come from inside. Each staying out of foul trouble will be key to their team’s success. It will be a hard fought, and physical battle that will be great to watch.
St. Mary’s has held its opponents to 56.5 points per game while VCU has put up 74.7 points per game.
Prediction: St. Mary’s 72, VCU 63
Jock Landale and Justin Tillman will both have great games, but SMC will cause too many turnovers. SMC is a great defensive team that is going up against a VCU team that gives the ball up easily. SMC will cash those turnovers in for points which will move them onto the round of 32