RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The task for head coach Chris Mooney & Co. is simple: Win or go home.
It’s been an up-and-down season for the University of Richmond men’s basketball team, but none of that matters anymore. The No. 9 seeded Spiders are in Brooklyn, along with the conference’s 13 other teams, hoping to advance to Sunday’s tournament final and play for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Our 8Sports team has tabbed Richmond as one of the tournament’s most dangerous sleepers, and the Spiders will begin their quest at 12 p.m. Thursday against Fordham.
Number 9 Seed: The Richmond Spiders
- Record: 15-15 overall, 7-11 in A-10
- Coach: Chris Mooney (202-161)
- Top Scorers: T.J. Cline (18.1 ppg), Terry Allen (17.8 ppg)
- Top Rebounder: T. Allen (7.8 rpg)
- Assists Leader: Cline (119, 4.0 apg)
- Points Per Game: 77.5
- Points Allowed Per Game: 74.6
- Scoring Offense Rank: 3
- Scoring Defense Rank: 11
- Scoring Margin Rank: 8 at +2.9
- Free Throw Percentage & Rank: 14 at .657
- Field Goal Percentage & Rank: 1 at .487
- 3-Point FG Percentage & Rank: 5 at .362
- Rebounding Margin & Rank: 13 at -5.0
- Turnover Margin & Rank: 2 at +2.37
Richmond isn’t a hard team to dissect. The Spiders don’t defend or rebound very well, but when they’re clicking offensively, there isn’t a team in the A-10 they can’t beat. In fact, before conference play started back in December, Richmond garnered national attention after beating then-No. 14 ranked California and Northern Iowa just days apart. Inconsistency has been their Achilles heel, but if they can string together a few solid performances in a row, we see the Spiders as the conference tournament’s most dangerous sleeper.
Richmond’s top two scorers, junior T.J. Cline and forward Terry Allen, are two of the most versatile players in the conference who can hurt you inside and out. Highlighted by a ridiculous 34-point, 13-rebound effort in the Spiders’ win over ranked Cal, Allen was playing like an All-American during the early stages of the season and has continued to put up respectable enough numbers worthy of postseason recognition (he and Cline both were voted to the All-Atlantic 10 third team). Meanwhile Cline, fresh off a career-high 36-point effort in Richmond’s narrow one-point loss against Dayton last week, has been scorching hot of late. He’s averaging a whisker under 20 ppg during conference play and has reached double figures in 18 of Richmond’s last 19 contests. Shawn’Dre Jones (15 ppg), who leads the team in 3-point shooting, is a steady and reliable point guard who gives the Spiders a third scoring option.
Making the Spiders’ sleeper value all the more appealing is their first round matchup against Fordham, a team they swept 2-0 during the regular season and have beaten 11 times in a row. Fordham likes to press defensively and force turnovers, but the Spiders are one of the A-10’s most disciplined teams with a +2.37 turnover margin, which is second best in the conference. Richmond came from behind to beat the Rams in both of their previous meetings this season, a feat that could be hard to pull off three times in a row. A fast start and taking control early will be key if the Spiders hope to advance into Friday’s quarterfinals.