Team Profile: 2007 BracketBuster Preview: Bradley at Virginia Commonwealth
Right now the Braves (17-10, 8-7) are looking eerily similar to the 2006 Missouri State Bears. Jim Les’ team is well-liked by the computers, but is just 1-7 against the RPI’s Top 50 teams, the one win coming against SIU at home. A road win to improve that record to 2-7 this late in the year would be a huge boost to Bradley’s at-large profile.Virginia Commonwealth (21-5, 13-2), like fellow CAA members Drexel and Old Dominion, is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. A regular-season CAA championship should be good enough to earn the Rams an at-large bid, were they to stumble in the CAA Tournament, but a win over a quality Missouri Valley team might turn out to be a desperately-needed insurance policy.
Key Matchup: BU’s trio of guards vs. VCU’s trio of guards
These teams are mirror images of each other: both have three guards averaging double figures, all of whom can handle the ball. PG Daniel Ruffin is the undisputed leader for Bradley, dishing out over five assists per game, while scoring nearly 14 points. But Will Franklin and Jeremy Crouch complete the three-headed backcourt monster admirably, both averaging better than 44% from three-point range.
For VCU, it’s Eric Maynor who leads the way with over 14 ppg and 6 apg. Maynor’s gaudy 3.1 Assist:Turnover ratio compares favorably with any guard in the country. On the receiving end of a number of those assists are backcourt mates B.A. Walker and Jesse Pellot-Rosa, both of whom average double-figures for Anthony Grant’s Rams.
Prediction: Bradley 75, Virginia Commonwealth 70
This is probably the game we’re least sure about, but we’ll give the nod to Bradley in a huge road test. The Braves’ odd computer numbers have to be borne out on the court at some point, right? Right? Maybe not…