(25) Virginia Commonwealth (26-7) vs. (16) Saint Louis (26-6)
Sunday, March 17, 1 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Lucas Gulotta, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Barclays Center (18,103) -- Brooklyn, New York. Television: CBS. Home Record: VCU 0-0, SLU 18-2. Away Record: VCU 0-0, SLU 6-3. Neutral Record: VCU 0-0, SLU 2-1. Conference Record: VCU 0-0, SLU 13-3. Series Record: Saint Louis leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Commonwealth Rams will try to close our their first tour through the Atlantic 10 Conference with a title, as they square off with the top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens in the tournament championship game on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center.
This will be just the second bout between these schools in history. Saint Louis coasted to a 76-62 victory in the first meeting on Feb. 19 as the Billikens held the Rams without a field goal for a stretch of more than 10 minutes in the first half to power the win.
Juvonte Reddic had 18 points and 12 rebounds in No. 25 VCU's 71-62 win over Massachusetts on Saturday. The 2012 CAA tournament champions will now have an opportunity to win the A-10 tourney in their inaugural season in the league. With 10 3-pointers in VCU's first two Atlantic 10 Tournament games, senior Troy Daniels moved into sole possession of fifth-place on the A-10's single- season 3-pointers list. He's now one away from Jimmy Baron's mark of 118.
Shaka Smart's squad improved to 26-0 this season when forcing 15 turnovers or more on Saturday as it baited the Minutemen into 23 miscues with its constant full-court press. SLU has a good chance to avoid a loss if it is able to limit turnovers to 14 or fewer as the Rams are winless when failing to force 14. VCU managed to win despite a poor showing from Treveon Graham, who went 1-of-12 from the floor to net just three points. Graham has been a huge part of the Rams' success this season as he heads a list of four double-digit scorers with 15.4 ppg.
Although the Billikens were a balanced unit offensively for the majority of the season, it has been the Dwayne Evans show in the A-10 Tournament. Evans went 8-of-9 from the floor in the quarterfinals to post 25 points and nine rebounds against Charlotte. He then went 7-of-10 from the field en route to a double-double of 24 points and 11 boards against Butler on Saturday. Jim Crews, filling in for the late Rick Majerus, led his squad to their first outright regular-season conference title since capturing the Missouri Valley Conference in 1956-57. Cody Ellis added 13 points in the win over Butler for Saint Louis, which has won 14 of its last 15 games.
In the semifinals, Saint Louis shot 44.4 percent (20-of-45) and forced 20 turnovers, while giving the ball away just 11 times. The Billikens have now forced 20 turnovers in back-to-back games. Evans leads the veteran group of Billikens with 13.6 points and 7.7 rebounds per tilt, while Kwamain Mitchell, Ellis, Mike McCall Jr. and Jordair Jett all play vital roles as well.
The Rams and Billikens are both phenomenal defensive teams with the ability of fill up the basket as well. This second tilt between these schools should be much closer as it is highly unlikely VCU goes through an extended scoreless stretch for a second time. The Rams will be able to exact their revenge if Graham bounces back and Daniels continues to knock down shots from long distance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia Commonwealth 72, Saint Louis 70
03/17 10:59:32 ET