Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
VCU lives off forcing turnovers, but Dwayne Evans is having the best stretch of play in his career at the A-10 Tournament. Which ranked squad will get the tourney title?
The A-10 Tournament wasn't purely chalk, but it ended up with the top two squads in the field squaring off in the finals. No. 16 St. Louis and No. 25 VCU will face-off in the A-10 tournament final in what could be the most evenly-matched game on Selection Sunday.
They're the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the field, with St. Louis trying to win their first conference tournament since 2000 and put a capper on an unreal A-10 season under interim coach Jim Crews. For VCU, they're trying to show that they're the best in their new league after achieving success in the CAA.
For both sides, their style of play begins with defense. VCU does it with flash: they're the most steal-happy team in the country, forcing turnovers on 28.6 percent of opposing possessions and steals on 17.2 percent of opposing possessions - the No. 1 rate in the country in both categories. Shaka Smart bills it as havoc, but it won't be for St. Louis. Primary ballhandlers Jordair Jett and Kwamain Mitchell tend not to struggle, as St. Louis' 17.2 turnover rate is the No. 30 figure in the country. In the first matchup between these two, St. Louis only turned the ball over 10 times - by comparison, UMass turned it over 30 times in their semifinal against the Rams - and coasted to a 76-62 win.
St. Louis doesn't have any freaky ability to force turnovers like VCU, but they contest shots well, holding opponents to just 88.1 points per 100 possessions, No. 11 in the nation. In that February win, they held the Rams for over 10 minutes without a field goal as part of a 21-1 run.
The truth is, besides VCU's unreal ability to make teams cough up the ball, they aren't an elite squad. St. Louis will need to get the ball to Dwayne Evans, and he'll do the rest: the do-everything player for the Billikens had a career-high 25 points in Friday's quarterfinal matchup with Charlotte, and followed it up with 24 Saturday in their semifinal against Butler. He creates matchup problems - he's a refined post player, but he's just 6'5 - and he knows how to lure guys into fouls, drawing 5.9 fouls per 40 minutes. If the Billikens can manage to find Evans without turning the ball over routinely, it might be their game, but if Shaka Smart has his way, VCU won't let that happen easily.
Here's the info on Sunday's game:
No. 1 St. Louis (26-6, 13-3, Kenpom ranking 18) vs. No. 2 VCU (26-7, 12-4, Kenpom ranking 20)
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