Monday night’s final Atlantic 10 tournament bracket yielded an intriguing trail for VCU. The Rams will rest until Friday afternoon with the double-bye their No. 2 seed grants them. But they’ll be waiting for one of their biggest rivals.
VCU (17-6, 10-4) will take on the winner of the Thursday second-round game between No. 7 Dayton (13-8, 9-7) and No. 10 Rhode Island (10-14, 7-10) at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Rhode Island has been VCU’s peskiest league foe, and VCU has had plenty of battles with Dayton, too.
That includes the A-10 tournament.
Since it joined the A-10 ahead of the 2012-13 season, VCU has faced Rhode Island in the A-10 tournament three times. That’s tied with Richmond and Massachusetts for VCU’s most-frequent tournament opponent. VCU has faced Dayton twice, including in the 2015 title game.
A look back at those previous matchups against Dayton and Rhode Island.
March 15, 2015, VCU 71, Dayton 65: The Rams lost star Briante Weber for the year at the end of January 2015 because of a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in his right knee. They were ranked 14th in the country at the time. But the team went on to drop three of its final four games of the regular season and was the No. 5 seed in the A-10 tournament.
Treveon Graham scored 22 points in a 63-57 second-round win over Fordham, Melvin Johnson scored 23 in a 70-67 quarterfinal victory against Richmond, and Graham and Mo Alie-Cox scored 18 apiece in a semifinal triumph over Davidson to get VCU to the title game against Dayton.
In that game, the Rams made 10 of 27 from 3-point range, and the third time was the charm for a VCU team that had made the A-10 title game in 2013 and 2014 but fell both times. Graham had a team-high 20 points to move into second on VCU’s all-time scoring list.
March 12, 2017, Rhode Island 70, VCU 63: A Justin Tillman double-double — 24 points and 11 rebounds — led VCU past George Mason in the regular-season finale to secure the No. 2 seed. Then, six days later, VCU beat George Mason again 71-60 in the A-10 tournament quarterfinals.
The next day brought a matchup with Richmond. JeQuan Lewis hit a tying 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to send the game into overtime, when VCU converted 5 of 7 attempts from the field to secure an 87-77 win.
In the final against Rhode Island, VCU fell into a 17-point hole in the first half. It cut the gap to 3 late but couldn’t complete the comeback.
March 8, 2018, VCU 77, Dayton 72: After an up-and-down February, the Rams landed in the 2018 A-10 tournament as the No 8 seed. In the second round, a second-half run secured a victory.
VCU led most of the game, but a 3-pointer by Jordan Davis and a jumper by Trey Landers put the Flyers up 70-65 with 3:16 to go.
After a VCU timeout, De’Riante Jenkins hit a 3 that keyed a 12-2 run. Johnny Williams had the go-ahead bucket in that spurt, a wild floater he banked in while crashing to the court.
Tillman finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Williams finished with 14 points, two of five VCU players in double figures.
March 9, 2018, Rhode Island 76, VCU 67: After getting past Dayton, VCU encountered a hot-shooting Rhode Island team in the quarterfinals. Rhode Island, the top seed, went 11 of 22 from 3-point range.
Williams gave VCU a brief lead at the foul line with 6:38 to play, but Jeff Dowtin pushed Rhode Island back ahead with his third 3 of the day, and it never relinquished the lead.
March 15, 2019, Rhode Island 75, VCU 70: VCU surged to the top seed in the 2019 A-10 tournament, its first outright regular-season A-10 title, on the back of 12 consecutive victories. A January loss at Rhode Island was a turning point before the win streak.
Then VCU beat Rhode Island by 34 at home that February.
But in the quarterfinals, point guard Marcus Evans left with a bone bruise in his left knee in the first half. Rhode Island took control after halftime.