Utah State vs. VCU: Game Preview
A last minute change has the Aggies taking on the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic opening night.
A change of opponent for their season opener doesn’t change the goal for this Aggies squad looking to start strong Wednesday night.
WHO: Utah State Aggies (0-0, 0-0 in the MW) vs. Virginia Commonwealth Rams (0-0, 0-0 in the A-10)
WHEN: Wednesday, November 25th—6:30 PM PST/7:30 PM MST/9:30 PM EST
WHERE: Sanford Pentagon-Sioux Falls, SD
TV: ESPN 2
STREAM: Mountain West Network
Line: KenPom, Aggies favored by 3
SERIES RECORD: First ever meeting
Sometimes procrastinating a bit pays off, as the half finished preview of Utah State taking on the Wichita State Shockers was easy to scrap given the “last minute” changes made to the field in the Bad Boy Mower Crossover Classic this week.
"You have to make the best of the situation." @CoachSmith_USU
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) November 24, 2020
The Bad Boy Mowers Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, SD will be the home of the Utah State men’s basketball team for the week as they hope for a deep run in this preseason multi-team event on Wednesday night.
The Utah State Aggies were among a few teams with punched tickets to the big dance last season, after last second Sam Merrill dagger led the Aggies to their second straight Mountain West tournament championship and seconds straight NCAA tournament appearance. So where as other teams were still battling their way through their conference tournament bracket, when the news was announced that the rest of the season was canceled for the Aggies it hurt a little more.
Now gone are impact players like Abel Porter, Diogo Brito and Sam Merrill from the lineup. But back are others like Neemias Queta, Justin Bean, Alphonso Anderson and Brock Miller. Sure they will be joined by seven incoming freshmen and two redshirt players in Marco Anthony (transfer from Virginia) and Liam McChesney (redshirt freshman), but this new look Aggies squad is out for blood and another change at an NCAA appearance.
They get their chance on Wednesday night, against a VCU Rams squad who are far from their Shaka Smart days of dominance and really are looking for for a win tomorrow night to help lay a strong foundation for what may be a turbulent season.
Head coach Mike Rhoades lost plenty of scoring from last year’s injury-riddled squad. Returning only one of his top six scorers from last season and leaning on incoming transfers to anchor a frontcourt desperately missing now Texas Tech Red Raider Marcus Santos-Silva. The Rams appear to have their own shoes to fill, in the paint, on the scoreboard and on the perimeter. Look for former Kansas State big man Levi Stockhard to battle it out with Queta and
The Rams are in for a huge test right out the gate against the Aggies and have to deal with one of the best frontcourts in the nation, let alone the Mountain West.
Match up of the night: Battle of the backcourts
Where plenty of attention will be given to the Aggies frontcourt duo tomorrow night, where your eyes might want to take a break or two during tomorrow’s match up should be in the backcourt. As Utah State will be looking for several roles to be filled from a dominant group of departed guards the past two seasons.
Marco Anthony, Brock Miller, Steven Ashworth, Sean Bairstow you name it. There are plenty unknowns in terms of backcourt production aside from Miller, but the question is really, who takes on the scoring duties?
Elsewhere on the court will be Nah’Shon Hyland of VCU, who is this team’s leading returning scorer (9.0 PPG) and looking to build on a solid freshman year as a leader on this Rams squad.
Prediction: Utah State 80, VCU 65
VCU was picked to finish 9th in the Atlantic-10 this year while returning back little production from last year’s 8th place 18-13 (8-10) squad. While the Aggies on the other hand do lose plenty of scoring contribution but boast a lopsided frontcourt advantage and several capable contributors to step up in the backcourt. So on the surface this matchup has name recognition but might turn out a big lopsided come the final buzzer.
The X-Factor: Marco Anthony
The X-factor on the night appears to be sit-out transfer and former national champion Marco Anthony. The 6-5 220 combo guard saw little playing time during his time at Virginia in the ACC a couple of seasons ago, but the San Antonio, TX native looks poised to slot into scoring and ball handling roles for the Aggies.
Anthony is a talented player with bounce, size and an improved playmaking ability. And if he slides into his predicted role as easy as many think he will, than his production will tip the scales even further in favor of Utah State.
So Utah State fans buckle your seat belts because your new look Aggies are ready to go come tip-off on Wednesday. With all tests passed, that won’t be easy to get used to staying updated on will it? Still there are plenty of dangerous teams that will test Utah State this week.
With a game on Thursday against either West Virginia or South Dakota State and a field that includes Memphis, St. Mary’s and Western Kentucky, this maybe the toughest non-conference slate of any in the Mountain West.
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) November 24, 2020