Team Profile: VCU at Nevada Preview

by Matthew Stevens | February 18th, 2009

Friday, 9 p.m. EST, ESPNU

The team most disappointed by its Bracketbuster matchup is probably Virginia Commonwealth.

Consider its predicament:

1. 2,661 miles of travel, including a 6-hour plane ride
2. Its opponent is a team outside the RPI Top 100 (Nevada is No. 104 and a loser of three of its last six)
3. ESPNU, rather than ESPN or ESPN2, coverage for star player Eric Maynor and the rest of the Rams.

At least publicly, Rams Coach Anthony Grant took the high road in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, praising Nevada head coach Mark Fox for his “championship-caliber team” and saying that the matchup would be “a great challenge for our team and a chance to get some exposure for VCU.”

With exception given to expected losses against North Carolina and UNLV, Nevada still has had unusual trouble defending its court (7-6 home record), and the team is coming off home losses to Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.

“I don’t think there’s any question that we’re still looking for leadership,” Fox told the Reno Journal-Gazette this past week. “It’s hard for young players to learn. As I look back at our leadership over the years, it’s always been older guys. We just don’t have older guys (this year).”

Key Matchup: Eric Maynor vs. The Nevada defense
Before I get nasty e-mails from Richmond, VA – I understand that the Rams are most than a one-man team – their 61-44 victory over rival Old Dominion, where Maynor was less than sizzling from the field (7 of 19), proved that.

However, make no mistake: on Feb. 20, Las Vegas will not be the only city in Nevada with a four-star show. When Eric Maynor comes to your town, the 6-foot-2 guard is worth the price of admission.
Maynor, while currently seventh in the country in scoring at 22.6 ppg, is a projected first-round prospect in every mock NBA Draft and remembered for knocking out Duke in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament on this shot.

While everybody is focused on Davidson’s Stephen Curry, basketball fans all across the country should be rooting for at least one more March Madness moment opportunity for Eric Maynor before turns pro.

Prediction: VCU 78, Nevada 68
Nevada doesn’t have anybody to stop Eric Maynor. Anthony Grant’s up-tempo style will fluster the home team, ensuring he’s promoted the top of the list on the 2009 Coaching Carousel.

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