This is the matchup fans have had their eyes on since the announcement of the Progressive Legends Classic. Similar to last season's Battle 4 Atlantis, this preseason tournament is a true test of the 2014-2015 Wildcats' potential. With a weak conference schedule to show, these preseason tourneys are solid ways to boost RPI rankings. In this meeting, both schools put their undefeated records on the line.
The Rams posted a 26-8 record last season, going 12-4 in Atlantic 10 play. It was enough to earn them a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, as history shows, the 12 seed upset in one that happens quite often, and VCU fell to the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.
Their head coach is Shaka Smart, one of the most respected coaches in all of Division I basketball. To show how successful he has been in his now-6th year coaching, last season's 26 wins were his lowest ever with the Rams. With an overall record of 137-45 as a head coach, Villanova will have to challenge themselves to walk out of here with a win.
Darrun Hilliard II vs. Melvin Johnson
Johnson is one of two Rams to average at least 18 PPG this season. He got off to a quick start scoring 23 against the Tennessee Volunteers on 9-17 shooting (5-11 from deep) in the home opener. Hilliard will need to contain him in order to take a big chunk out of the VCU playbook.
Darrun has been struggling so far this season. He has scored 10 points in each game and is shooting below 30% from the field. He is shooting just 16.7% from beyond the arc, however he shoots a much more efficient 43.8% from within. If he can commit to that shot selection more, he can finally have a breakout game and gain lots of confidence on a big stage.
Dylan Ennis vs. Jordan Burgess
Burgess is the definition of efficient. While averaging 10.0 PPG, he is shooting an unheard of 68.8%. He contributes across the board too, adding 4.0 RPG, 1.3 steals and only 1 turnover per outing. If `Nova pulls too much attention from the guard, he could create some distance between the schools and really put a game away early
Ennis is currently the leading scorer for Villanova at 15.0 PPG. He has been productive since taking a starting role this season, shooting 43.8% from three and 48.4% overall. Ennis has also taken care of the ball thus far (only 3 turnovers) and has kept his fouls rate down. He has not gotten in on the steals-party the rest of the team has had, but if he can at least disrupt Burgess a little bit, the other guards can step in and produce quality, high-percentage fast break points.
JayVaughn Pinkston vs. Treveon Graham
While officially listed as a G-F, Graham has been rebounding like a true center. The "guard" is averaging 9.0 RPG, but that total has tapered off since he had 14 rebounds in the season opener. With the reduction in rebounding, though, his shooting has gone up, going 5-10 in his last game vs. MD-Eastern Shore Fighting Hawks.
Pinkston struggled heavily in the last outing vs. Bucknell Bison. Picking up two fouls, he only played seven minutes in the first half. His second half did not go much better, finishing the day on 1-6 shooting for 6 points and 4 rebounds. Neither Graham (6'6", 220) nor JVP (6'7", 235) have a height advantage on the other, but whoever can battle for the boards the best will dominate the other.