HAVOC Haven: VCU vs. Oregon State NCAA Tournament preview

RICHMOND, Va, (WRIC) — The VCU Rams have arrived in Oklahoma City, Okla. for their tilt against the Oregon State Beavers in the West Region of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The favored (-4) Rams (24-10) from the Atlantic 10 Conference and the PAC-12’s Beavers (19-12) will tip off at 1:30 on Friday from the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game will be televised on TNT.

The winner will play No. 2 Oklahoma or No. 15 Cal State-Bakersfield — let’s be serious — the winner will play Oklahoma.

POLL: Will VCU beat Oregon State?

Prior to last week’s A-10 Tournament in Brooklyn, many bracket experts had VCU, 14-4 in A-10 play, on the dreaded tournament bubble, but convincing wins against Davidson and UMass in the conference tournament paved VCU’s way to an at-large bid.

Oregon State, who finished in a three-way tie for sixth place in the PAC-12 regular season, was bounced out of the PAC-12 Tournament in the quarterfinals by the University of California. The Beavers, 9-9 in PAC-12 play, beat the Arizona State Sun Devils in the tournament’s first round.

Oregon State’s at-large bid snapped a 26-year NCAA Tournament drought, the second-longest active streak among major conference programs in the country.

In fact, the last time the Beavers played in the NCAA tourney, they were led by Gary “The Glove” Payton — ironically, this version of the Beavers are led by Payton’s son Gary Payton II (I’m calling him “The Mitten”).

Number 7 Seed: The Oregon State Beavers (Corvallis, Ore.)*

  • Record: 19-12 overall, 9-9 in PAC-12
  • Coach: Wayne Tinkle (194-117)
  • Top Scorers: Gary Payton II (15.9 pts ppg), Tres Tinkle (13.1 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder: Gary Payton II (7.9 rpg)
  • Top shot blocker: Drew Eubanks(1.3 blocks per game)
  • Points Per Game: 72.1
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 70
  • Margin: 2.1
  • Free Throw Percentage: .671
  • Field Goal Percentage: .441
  • Opp. FG Pct..427
  • 3-Point FG Percentage: .370
  • 3-Pt. FG-Game: 6.8
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct.: .329
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game: 7.2
  • Rebounding: 37.5
  • Rebound Margin: 2.2
  • Turnovers: 11.45
  • TO Diff.: 2.1
  • Avg Steals: 7.5
  • Avg Blocks: 3.4

Oregon’s 6-foot-8 freshman guard Tres Tinkle, the team’s second-leading scorer, has missed the last four games with a right foot injury. He is questionable for the game.

Key wins for the Beavers this season included Oregon, California, USC, and Utah.

Roster: The Oregon State Beavers*

No.
Name
Pos.
Ht.
Wt.
Yr.
4 Derrick Bruce G 6-3 165 Fr.
31 Matt Dahlen F 6-6 205 So.
11 Malcolm Duvivier G 6-2 210 Jr.
12 Drew Eubanks F 6-10 240 Fr.
14 Daniel Gomis F 6-10 235 Sr.
24 Kendal Manuel G 6-4 180 Fr.
13 Langston Morris-Walker G 6-5 215 Sr.
22 Daine Muller G 6-4 202 Jr.
5 Cheikh N’diaye C 7-0 240 Jr.
1 Gary Payton II G 6-3 190 Sr.
23 Gligorije Rakocevic C 6-11 250 Fr.
32 Jarmal Reid F 6-7 235 Sr.
30 Olaf Schaftenaar F 6-10 235 Sr.
40 Justin Stangel C 6-10 225 Jr.
2 Stephen Thompson Jr. G 6-4 170 Fr.
3 Tres Tinkle F 6-8 220 Fr.

VCU finished in a three-way tie for the regular season title in the A-10 with Dayton and St. Bonaventure and lost in the tournament finals to the fourth-seeded Saint Joseph’s Hawks last Sunday.

Prior to last week’s A-10 Tournament in Brooklyn, many bracket experts had VCU, 14-4 in A-10 play, on the dreaded tournament bubble, but convincing wins against Davidson and UMass in the conference tournament paved VCU’s way to an at-large bid.

VCU and its new Head Coach Will Wade had quite a mountain to climb early in their season. While many teams are playing squads that would lose to a community college team, VCU faced (and lost to) the likes of Duke, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Cincinnati.

One train of thought was that this would build character and prepare the team for a long post-season run. And, it looked like a good plan — after starting the season 5-5, the Rams reeled off 12 straight wins including nine straight A-10 wins.

VCU finished the season going 5-4, falling into a three-way tie with St. Bonaventure (22-7, 14-4) and Dayton (24-6, 14-4). Two of those losses came from lowly George Mason (11-21, 5-13) and A-10 bottom dweller UMass (14-17, 6-12).

Number 10 Seed: The VCU Rams (Richmond, Va.)*

  • Record: 24-10 overall, 14-4 in A-10
  • Coach: Will Wade (62-34)
  • Top Scorers: Melvin Johnson (17.4 ppg), Korey Billbury (11.6 ppg)
  • Top Rebounder: Justin Tillman (6.4 rpg)
  • Top shot blocker: Mo Alie-Cox (1.9 blocks per game)
  • Points Per Game: 77.2
  • Points Allowed Per Game: 67.3
  • Margin: 9.9
  • Free Throw Percentage: .690
  • Field Goal Percentage: .450
  • Opp. FG Pct..440
  • 3-Point FG Percentage: .356
  • 3-Pt. FG-Game: 7.3
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG Pct.: .336
  • Opp. 3-Pt. FG-Game: 5.5
  • Rebounding: 37.5
  • Rebound Margin: 2.7
  • Turnovers: 11.52
  • TO Diff.: 4.0
  • Avg Steals: 8.8
  • Avg Blocks: 3.8

VCU finished the season going 5-4, falling into a three-way tie with St. Bonaventure (22-7, 14-4) and Dayton (24-6, 14-4). Two of those losses came from lowly George Mason (11-21, 5-13) and A-10 bottom dweller UMass (14-17, 6-12).

Roster: The VCU Rams*

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr.
1 JeQuan Lewis Guard 6-1 180 Jr.
2 Samir Doughty Guard 6-4 180 Fr.
4 Justin Tillman Forward 6-7 215 So.
5 Doug Brooks Guard 6-4 195 Jr.
10 Jonathan Williams Guard 6-1 185 So.
11 Michael Gilmore Forward 6-10 215 So.
12 Mo Alie-Cox Forward 6-7 250 R-Jr.
14 Torey Burston Guard 5-8 180 R-Jr.
20 Jordan Burgess Guard 6-5 225 R-Jr.
22 Gerron Scissum Forward 6-7 210 Fr.
23 Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed Forward 6-9 230 Jr.
24 Korey Billbury Guard 6-4 210 Sr.
32 Melvin Johnson Guard 6-4 190 Sr.
33 Jonathan Nwankwo Forward 6-9 245 Fr.
35 Jordan Riullano Guard 5-9 185 Fr.

The team’s unquestioned leader is senior Melvin Johnson — when he is on his game (sinking three-pointers) the Rams are tough to stop, especially when Korey Billbury and Mo Alie-Cox are also clicking.

Sophomore Justin Tillman, junior Jonathan Williams, newcomer Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed, and JeQuan Lewis were all contributors this season. But the Rams’ two weaknesses this year seemed to be consistency and playing defensively sound.

8Sports Director Mitch Carr is in Oklahoma City and will be following the Rams during their run in the West Region of the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter and look for highlights and reaction from Friday’s game on 8News at 6 and 11.

HAVOC Haven will also live blog the game here in Richmond. 

Looking for more sports opinions? Check out our new sports Vlog, Ron’s Addiction.

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*Editor’s note: Stats courtesy of ESPN, VCU Athletics, Oregon State Athletics, and the Associated Press.

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