Looking for that next upstart mid-major program? Head down to Richmond, Va. and take a look at VCU. Rams coach Shaka Smart has something special going on down there.
After watching VCU defend its home court for the 21st straight time with an 82-67 win over Hofstra, I’m impressed. VCU has everything it takes to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. Wake Forest transfer Jaime Skeen is the ring leader. He is an absolute bruiser in the paint and can hit a three. He torched the Pride for 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
The only downer is that he suffered a knee injury midway through the second half. Its not know how serious it is.
What really makes VCU (17-5, 9-1 CAA) most impressive is their youth. Freshmen Juvonte Reddic, and Rob Brandenberg and sophomores Darius Theus, Troy Daniels are scary good. That group has made the loss of senior guard Brandon Rozzell (hand) a little easier to take.
They have size –Reddic is 6-10, Skeen is 6-9– a heady point guard in Joey Rodriguez, a young fiery coach in Smart and two lights-out, three-point shooters in Burgess (44%) and Brandenberg (37%). If Rozzell, a 41-percent three-point shooter, returns, watch out for VCU. A run to the Sweet 16 shouldn’t shock anyone.
For a team that likes to press and get up and down the court, the Rams handle the ball very well. Only one player (Rodriguez) commits more than two turnovers per game. As team they give the ball up an average of 12 times per game.
Other than a win over UCLA, VCU doesn't have a signature non-conference win to lean on. So the Rams will likely have to win the CAA Tournament to get a bid. If they can Then again, if the Rams can finish strong, a run to the CAA tourney final could be all they need.