VCU Rams Earn Their Way Into The NCAA Tournament

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BROOKLYN, NY - MARCH 15: Virginia Commonwealth University Rams Forward Michael Gilmore (22) dunks the ball with Rhode Island Rams Forward Jermaine Harris (0) and Rhode Island Rams Forward Dana Tate (12) defending during the first half of the game between the Rhode Island Rams and the VCU Rams on March 15, 2019, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

March Madness is finally upon us and fans across the country are awaiting the fate of their favorite teams. After a disappointing season last year, the VCU Rams have been playing with a chip on their shoulder and attempting to regain their mojo.

VCU Rams Headed To The NCAA Tournament

Exceeding Expectations

After a let down of a season, the Rams weren’t on anyone’s radar coming into the 2018-19 season. According to a preseason poll, the Rams were predicted to finish seventh in the Atlantic-10 conference.

These expectations had a lot to do with the struggles of last year but the Rams were determined to flip the script. Led by A-10 coach of the year, Mike Rhoades, the Rams shattered the preseason predictions by winning the conference regular season title. They ended up with a 25-7 overall record and a 16-2 league record.

The Rams appeared to be on the same page on defense, which often times helped ignite their offense. Their defense ranks among the tops in the country, allowing only 61.2 points per game.

Despite the conference title, it was not all fine and dandy for the Rams this season. They ended up losing relatively early in the A-10 tournament. Even though the Rams were the #1 seed, they could not top #8 seed Rhode Island. This tough loss included a key injury to junior guard Marcus Evans. Many believed this loss could impact their position in the big dance.

Guess Who’s Back

Despite the struggles in the conference tournament, VCU was still granted a ticket to the NCAA tournament. The Rams had impressive wins over Temple, Hofstra, Texas, and a season sweep of Dayton. They also narrowly lost to University of Virginia in a game where they led for most of the second half.

They are a #8 seed in the East region and will face off against the #9 seed University of Central Florida. The game will take place in Columbia, S.C with the winner likely facing the vaunted Duke Blue Devils.

The Road Ahead

According to a team spokesperson, Evans is expected to be ready to play in the NCAA tournament. His presence will give the Rams a ton of confidence, which can help swing a tight game in their favor. The Rams will also expect to get major contributions from De’Riante Jenkins, Issac Vann, and Marcus Santos-Silva.

It seems like the loss in the conference tournament may have hurt VCU’s seeding, and made their path a bit more difficult, but nonetheless, they are back where they belong. If they are able to defeat a tough UCF team in the first round, they will definitely have their work cut out against Zion Williamson and company.

After missing the NCAA tournament in 2018, which ended a seven-year streak, the Rams are hungry to regain relevancy in March. They will have to remain disciplined and stay on an even keel if they want to make another deep tournament run. Unlike the NBA playoffs, the NCAA tournament is not a “best of seven” series and anything can happen in one game. It will be interesting to see what March has in store for the Rams.

 

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