Read through the rest of the NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheets here.
Coach: Shaka Smart
Record: 28-6, 15-3 (2nd)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 46
– RPI: 41
– AP/USA Today: Unranked
Seeding?: It will be interesting to see where VCU gets placed in the bracket. They don’t have an overwhelming profile — they probably would not have been an at-large team — but they have won 17 of their last 18 games and are coming off of a Final Four appearance. A 12 would be my guess.
Names to know: Brad Burgess (13.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg), Juvonte Reddic (10.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Darius Theus (8.6 ppg, 4.8 apg)
Stats to know: VCU’s defensive is ranked 27th in adjusted efficiency, and it is almost entirely due to how effective their press is. The Rams lead the nation in turnover percentage and in steal percentage. They have also become a deadly team in the open court; there are not many clubs that I’ve seen this season able to transition from offense to defense as quickly as VCU does.
Tendencies: Shaka Smart calls the system he runs “Havoc”, and its pretty similar to the “40 minutes of hell” made famous by Nolan Richardson. He plays a smaller lineup — 7’0″ DJ Haley starts alongside 6’9″ Juvonte Reddic, but 6’6″ Brad Burgess sees a lot of time at the power forward spot — that allows his defense to pressure unapologetically for 94 feet. On the offense end, VCU spreads the floor and attacks off the dribble, hoping to finds mismatches like a slower power forward guarding Burgess.
Big wins, bad losses: The Rams don’t really have any bad losses — Georgia Tech? — but they also don’t have much in the way of great wins. South Florida is their best win out of conference.
How’d they get here?: The Rams rolled through Richmond, beating George Mason by 10 before holding on to beat No. 1 seed Drexel in the final by three.
Outlook: You do not want to play VCU right now. Now one does. The Rams are paying their best basketball at the right time, and when their press gets into a groove and they start knocking down some threes, watch out. What’s more is that this group is not going to be fazed by the bright lights of the NCAA Tournament. Sure, they may have lost four players off of the Final Four teams from a year, ago, but Smart was smart — he had a deep bench and made sure to use them. Depending on the matchups, I wouldn’t be surprised to see VCU in the second weekend again.