VCU’s loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season left fans with a bad taste in their mouth. Expectations for the 2014-15 season, within the A-10, may be a little more on VCU’s side this time.
The A-10 was stacked last season with many talented teams which made in-conference games all the more important. Six A-10 teams made it to the NCAA Tournament with 5 of those teams receiving at-large bids. This season, the A-10 still has many talented teams, but it looks to be just a little less than last season with many players graduating and team dynamics changing.
Fan or not, A-10 followers will have to admit that VCU looks to have the strongest team going into the season. The Rams not only have talented returners such as Briante Weber and Treveon Graham, but they also have younger returners who have excelled greatly last season and during the off-season. Melvin Johsnon, Mo Alie-Cox, Jequan Lewis and Jordan Burgess all showed they have what it takes to play VCU’s high intensity “havoc” style. With their return and with the addition of top 100 recruits Terry Larrier and Mike Gilmore, VCU should be unstoppable.
Now for the 2014-15 expectations, the Rams should be able to pull off an A-10 Championship win, make it into the tournament, and go as far as the sweet 16. After losing two A-10 championships consecutive years, if VCU makes it to the championship they will be entering with something to prove. When comparing the teams in the A-10, the Ram’s most challenging games will likely be against the Massachusetts Minutemen and the Dayton Flyers. George Washington won’t be too far in third when it comes to challenging games, but VCU’s team strength is looking to be best in the A-10. The Rams should be able to win their way to an A-10 championship, not easily, but it should be doable.
Next comes the Ram’s bid into the NCAA Tournament. If they choke in the championship again, the Rams should still get a bid into the tournament like last season, if they have a similar record. VCU has the skill and talent to make it to the sweet 16, all depending on their match-ups. The Rams do have a somewhat young team though, so the sweet 16 may be where they get beat, although all things are possible with Coach Smart in control. One thing fans will have to watch for is the chemistry of the players. VCU needs to be able to incorporate new players like Larrier and Gilmore in a way that fits the “havoc” style, but also allows them to still play their style of game (the reason Shaka scouted them after all). If the VCU coaching staff pulls this off, which they haven’t had trouble with before, then VCU will be the team to watch with all this talent on the court.
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