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Mid-Major Game of the Week: Old Dominion at VCU

Old Dominion heads up I-64 Saturday to rekindle a rivalry with the VCU Rams.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Date/Time Home Away TV/Location
Saturday, November 28
4 PM

VCU Rams (2-2)
MMM15: 11

Old Dominion Monarchs (3-2)
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Siegel Center 
Capacity: 7,617
Richmond, VA

Old Dominion Overview

The ODU Monarchs are coming off a disappointing weekend at the Hall of Fame Classic in which they missed a chance to build their resume in losses to Purdue and Saint Joseph's. Jeff Jones suddenly finds himself on a slippery slope when it comes to an at-large bid and VCU may be the best resume builder left on the Monarchs non-conference schedule. The Monarchs have struggled to score against solid opponents this year -- they scored only 39 points against Purdue -- and are in desperate need of finding a third scorer beyond Trey Freeman and Aaron Bacote.  The early injury to Brandan Stith has been real blow to the Monarchs' early season momentum.

Player to Watch | Trey Freeman

The former Campbell transfer continues to dazzle this year averaging 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Freeman has just been stuck looking for help this year. Freeman is always a fun watch but he'll be an interesting one on Saturday as VCU may opt to go a good portion of the game without a true point guard again.  Can Freeman put the team on his back if he's defended by bigger, athletic guards? Can he generate some steals and transition buckets for the Monarchs? They are certainly going to need it.

VCU Overview

Like Old Dominion, VCU had an 0-2 weekend losing to Duke and Wisconsin in the 2K Classic. There was some talk of moral victories for the Rams but head coach Will Wade squashed that talk pretty quickly.

The biggest story right now for VCU is what will Wade's starting lineup and rotation look like? The first year Rams' head coach effectively benched JeQuan Lewis, Justin Tillman, and Jonathan Williams in the second half on Sunday against Wisconsin for Ahmed Hamdy and Korey Billbury.  It was an effective lineup and certainly a bigger one. It'll be interesting to see which way Wade goes against teams with crafty guards like Trey Freeman.

Player to Watch | Melvin Johnson

If Wade goes with a similar lineup as Sunday at the 2K Classic then that means off-guard Melvin Johnson will be the Rams primary ball-handler. Johnson didn't do terrible in 35 minutes against the Badgers but did have three turnovers. He's certainly not a penetrator that is going to get you to the line either.

The Rams volume shooter is averaging 19.5 points per game and has been blazing beyond the arc shooting nearly 54% this year. Johnson has proven to be a streaky shooter in the past but he certainly has the green light right now and is making the most of it.

Expert Picks:

Ben Parks



Ben: Until last weekend, I was totally prepared to pick Old Dominion to take this one. The loss to St. Joe's changed all that as the Hawks were able to just bully the Monarchs down the stretch to steal the win. This is not a St. Joe's team that was expected to contend with the top four in the A-10, and certainly not one that was expected to beat a team with as much going for it as ODU. VCU has the personnel to be tough, and really bring it to Old Dominion any time the Monarchs try to get inside. This game is always going to be close, but the edge is going to the Rams.

Parks: This is always the cliche game where you can throw out the records and I'm expecting a little bit of a rock fight on Broad Street Saturday.  VCU should be able to grind the Monarchs down with their deep frontcourt featuring Mo Alie-Cox and the recent emergence of Ahmed Hamdy Mohamed.