VCU draws Akron for Bracketbusters

Taylor Howsmon

Sports Editor

For the sixth season in a row the VCU Rams men’s basketball team will participate in a ESPNU Bracketbusters game. The opponent for the 2010 game was announced Monday night on ESPNU and Rams’ fans found out that the black a gold will square off with Akron on Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. on ESPNU

This marks the third season in a row that the Rams and the Zips have played each other, although only the game two years ago in Akron was an official ESPN Bracketbusters game.

This season’s battle will have a little added flavor as VCU coach Shaka Smart will be going up against his former employer and mentor, Keith Dambrot.

Dambrot hired Smart as an assistant in 2003 when the 51 year old was promoted to the position.

“Keith and I talk almost daily, and I’m guessing things will change a bit now,” Smart said. “It’ll be great to see him, but all we will be focused on is getting another win against a quality opponent.”

VCU bested Akron in its first Bracketbuster match, 57-52 in Akron on Feb 23, 2008. In the return trip the Rams nabbed the Zips, this time in Richmond, by a score of 73-69 on Dec. 17.

“It’s a great chance for us to play another quality team from outside our league in our building,” Smart said. “Our focus is clearly on the conference season, but it’s nice (that) the teams in our league to have a chance to beat up on some quality teams from other leagues.”

In the 2009-2010 campaign, Akron is 15-6. Junior Brett McKnight lead the team in scoring with 9.9 points per game and senior Jimmy Conyers scores 9.1 a game. The Zips have five other players who average seven or more points per game.

VCU and Akron have two common opponents on the season. The Zips defeated Western Michigan in Kalamazoo on Jan. 27, while the Rams dropped one to the Broncos back on Dec. 18. The other is Rhode Island, who Akron lost to at home on Jan. 5. VCU beat those Rams at the Stuart C. Siegel Center on Dec. 7.

“They are going to a tough draw for us,” Smart said. “I haven’t seen a ton of them this year, but I know they are sound defensively, so we’ll have to come out sharp and execute our game plan.”

All 12 CAA teams will also participate in Bracketbusters. Five of the games, featuring VCU, ODU, Northeastern, William & Mary and George Mason, will be televised on ESPN’s family of networks.

Complete CAA ESPN Bracketbusters schedule:

Fri. Feb. 19: ODU at Northern Iowa, 7 p.m., ESPN2

Fri. Feb. 19: William & Mary at Iona, 9 p.m., ESPNU

Sat. Feb. 20: Louisiana Tech at Northeastern, 1 p.m., ESPN2

Sat. Feb. 20: Akron at VCU, 4 p.m., ESPNU

Sat. Feb. 20: College of Charleston at George Mason, 8 p.m., ESPN2

Non-televised games (all to be played on Sat. Feb. 20)

Boston University at Delaware, 2 p.m.

Bradley at Drexel, TBA

South Carolina State at Georgia State, TBA

Rider at Hofstra, 4 p.m.

James Madison at Canisius, TBA

UNC Wilmington at Radford, TBA

Towson at Manhattan, 2 p.m.

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