Battle-tested VCU a likely choice for tournament berth

Sophomore Melvin Johnson is one of three players averaging double figures this season for the Rams, who are looking to improve their NCAA Tournament resume in the remaining regular season games.

Alonzo Small
Contributing Writer

Around this time of year, analysts, players and coaches start throwing the word “destiny” around, suggesting teams can control their own fate on the court. In the case of the VCU men’s basketball team, that very well may be the case.

As of March 1, head coach Shaka Smart’s squad ranked third in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The No. 1 seed in the A-10 tournament is projected to be won by Saint Louis University, who had just one conference defeat on its resume entering the final week of the regular season.

This weekend’s matchup with the Billikens held surprisingly little significance in terms of the conference standings because SLU entered the contest with a three-game cushion on the Rams.

However, a victory would help position VCU for a double bye in the opening rounds of the A-10 tournament, and may help them catch Saint Joseph’s University, who currently sits at second place in the conference.

Of course, several key matchups remain to help determine the final standings. Saint Louis ends the season with two tough games against Dayton University and U.Mass. just one week after visiting the Rams at the Siegel Center.

As of March 1, VCU’s record stood at 21-7. The Rams are favored to win three out of their last four games. If that happens, VCU would finish the regular season with a 23-8 record. With this record, VCU has a near-certain chance of qualifying for NCAA tournament play.

As of Feb. 26, bracket projections by CBS’s Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi have VCU as an eighth seed. NBC’s Dave Ommen predicts VCU will be a ninth seed.

With Saint Louis the projected champs, four other A-10 teams are vying for at-large bids: George Washington University, U.Mass., Saint Joe’s and VCU.

VCU has lost to all four teams on the road this season, but recently avenged a loss to GWU with a 17-point drumming of the Colonials at the Siegel Center.

VCU is likely going to have to get by either U.Mass. or SJU if they want to reach the conference finals of the A-10 tournament again, which will present the chance to avenge losses suffered during the season.

If VCU is able to supplant one or both teams that defeated them earlier, that could set the stage for another A-10 Championship rematch between the two foes for the second year in a row in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the A-10 Tournament is being played.

VCU is one of three A-10 teams to earn victories against Top-25 teams, besting University of Virginia, which ranks first in the Atlantic Coastal Conference in a 59-56 away game on Nov. 12.

With two remaining games against Richmond and St. Bonaventure to close the season, VCU will await Selection Sunday to make their bid for destiny official.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply