RICHMOND, Va.— After what looked to be a lost season for VCU, the Rams came alive in Brooklyn winning the Atlantic 10 tournament championship over Dayton 71-65. After two straight A-10 tournament championship losses it was a time for Shaka Smart to prove that VCU is still a top basketball program in the NCAA. It would be a tough tournament for the VCU Rams who played without A-10 defensive player of the year and senior guard, Briante Weber. Still the Rams, who lost three of its last four games, would need four games to prove that pre-season tournament predictions weren’t wrong as well as to secure an automatic bid to the big dance.
The VCU Rams were tested from game one of the tournament, just missing an upset by 13th ranked Fordham. This landed the Rams in a three-peat rematch against cross-city rival Richmond in the third round of the tournament. Richmond won two regular season games against the VCU Rams but this would be a chance for VCU to make a statement. VCU endured another close game and finally edged out Richmond, 70-67. Led by senior small forward Treveon Graham, the Rams were finally beginning to click as a team without the emotional leader in Briante Weber. Sidelined by injury but not quieted, Briante Weber continued to rally his VCU Rams as they took on Davidson in another regular season 3-peat which VCU split with Davidson.
VCU shot lights-out from beyond the arc with 12 of 24 three-pointers falling for the Rams. VCU, who lost by 22 points at Davidson, won the game 93-73 on its way to the tournament championship against Dayton. Once again, another chance for revenge from a regular season loss the VCU Rams took at home to Dayton in late February. After three long years in the A-10 without a championship, Coach Shaka Smart had achieved everything as a coach in the conference except for the allusive A-10 tournament championship. Coach Smart was finally able to live the dream of hoisting the A-10 tournament trophy after beating Dayton in the tournament final. The championship wouldn’t come easy but Treveon Graham had a huge game posting a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds while also adding four assists.
As far as the NCAA tournament goes, VCU is currently projected to earn an 8th seed according to Joe Lunardi but the Rams hope that an A-10 championship will sweeten its resume. With wins over 24th ranked Davidson and a strong Dayton team in the tournament, VCU might have been able to work its way into a 7 seed. Both Dayton and Davidson are projected to be at-large bids in the NCAA tournament, and VCU has secured an automatic bid. The A-10 sent six teams to the tournament last year, but with the strength of these three teams, it should be an interesting set of match-ups for A-10 teams this week. The Rams are hoping to make another run like the one in 2011 that landed the VCU Rams in the Final Four. It’s on to March madness for a very high scoring VCU team that has a chance to do big things in the NCAA tournament.