College Basketball Game of the Week: West Virginia vs. Richmond

Story posted December 11, 2020 in Sports, CommRadio by Austin Groft

November and December are arguably the most important months for college basketball teams who are not in one of the Power 5 conferences. With most of their big games during these months, a win over a highly ranked team is essential for building their resumes.

The favorite to win the Atlantic 10, the Richmond Spiders, already have an impressive win over No. 10 Kentucky this season. This Richmond team has a lot of experience returning 11 of 14 players who saw time last year in their 24 win and seven loss season.

West Virginia has been hit hard with several tough matchups to start, going 3-0 against teams who are all more than capable of making March Madness. The Mountaineers displayed an impressive performance against No. 1 Gonzaga, even with losing the game 87-82.

Richmond’s last game featured a battle against Northern Iowa. The final score doesn’t give justice to the fight that the Spiders gave, being down by 10 points early on in the game. Northern Iowa may have easily won this game, but their star player AJ Green was out with an injury.

West Virginia is led by star forwards Derek Culver and Oscar Tshiebwe who were both double digit scorers last season. Every year it seems someone new steps up on Bob Huggins' team. Taz Sherman and Miles McBride are both averaging more than 10 points per game this season giving West Virginia a boost offensively.

Richmond’s starting roster is composed entirely of returning players, but they are without their best 3-point shooter Nick Sherod since he suffered a season ending ACL injury. Grant Golden has been dominant for the Spiders. He is their leading scorer, but is also a great passer out of the post being second in assists for the team this season.

Richmond's most efficient player, Nathan Cayo, is shooting 70 percent from the field in four games. Both forwards Cayo and Golden will be fighting intensely against Tshiebwe and Culver.

This will be the toughest game of the season for Richmond. Playing one of the best defenses in the nation, the Mountaineers held opponents to 62.4 points per game last season. Richmond will have to continue playing great team offense if they want to win this game.

The biggest question for the Mountaineers is their 3-point shooting. They struggled last year shooting 28.6% from the three. They are shooting 31.9% from this season so far, which is a decent improvement from last year.

Although the Richmond Spiders easily beat Kentucky, this win may not be as crazy as it seems since Kentucky may be overrated losing again to Georgia Tech 79-62. West Virginia has played better teams and has been overall playing better as a collective group.

With West Virginia’s offense improving every game, Richmond is going to have to play all 40 minutes to make this a close game. They can’t go down 10 to the Mountaineers like they did against Northern Iowa since West Virginia’s defense wouldn’t allow a big comeback.

Prediction: West Virginia 71, Richmond 63

 

Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at atg5271@psu.edu.