#40 VCU Rams: College Basketball 111 in 111

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Welcome to The Sports Bank’s third annual college basketball season preview series.  Two years we looked at 99 teams in 99 days.  Last year, we were slightly more aggressive and expanded to 111 teams in 111 days and will do so again as we look ahead to the 2012-2013 season.

We will rank the 75 power conference teams and top 36 mid-majors in reverse power ranking order.  We’ll break down rosters, transfers, incoming freshmen, non-conference schedules, and pick a player to watch for each team.

Over the past six seasons, the VCU Rams have won an average of nearly 27 games per year and made four trips to the NCAA Tournament.  Moving from the CAA to the Atlantic 10 will certainly be a step up in competition, but Shaka Smart should have his team battling for a conference crown from the get go.

VCU RAMS
Last Season: 2nd, 15-3 in CAA, 29-7 overall
Predicted A-10 Finish: 2nd

Projected Depth Chart
F/C: Juvonte Reddic (Jr)/D.J. Haley (Jr)/David Hinton (Sr)/Justin Tuoyo (Fr)/Mo Alie-Cox (Fr)
G/F: Treveon Graham (So)/Jarred Guest (So)
G/F: Troy Daniels (Sr)/Melvin Johnson (Fr)
SG: Rob Brandenberg (Jr)/Briante Weber (So)
PG: Darius Theus (Sr)/Teddy Okereafor (So)

Gone: G/F-Bradford Burgess, G/F-Reco McCarter (transfer-Campbell), PF-Heath Houston (transfer)

2012-2013 Outlook:
Of course it helps that everybody is back for the Rams minus leading scorer Bradford Burgess.  His younger brother Jordan was expected to be an immediate contributor but was ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA meaning he is not allowed to suit up for the Rams this year.

Still, Smart has the luxury of returning seven of his eight rotation players from a year ago.  Expect VCU to once again utilize a smaller, quicker four-guard line-up led by returning starters Darius Theus, Rob Brandenburg, and Troy Daniels.  All three play their roles well; Theus as the floor general and pesky defender, Brandenberg using his athleticism to attack the basket while Daniels locks and loads from deep (247 of his 299 field goal attempts were from three-point range last season.)

That trio doesn’t even include sophomore Treveon Graham who is expected to replace Burgess in the starting line-up.  Graham could be the most talented all-around scorer on VCU’s roster and many believe he will step into the role of go-to scorer.  Briante Weber will once again play a key role off the bench due to his versatility while Teddy Okereafor and highly-touted freshman Melvin Johnson also try to work their way into the regular rotation.

Juvonte Reddic holds down the fort inside.  He made huge strides last year as a sophomore and his physicality inside is needed as the only true post player in the starting five.  Seven-foot D.J. Haley is also back and will be the main back-up to Reddic while also allowing Smart to play the duo together at times when the Rams need a bigger look inside.

If VCU can once again get balanced scoring and wreak havoc defensively, there is no argument you can provide that will convince me that the Rams can’t compete for the conference crown in their inaugural season in the A-10.  Smart will get them back to the NCAA Tournament where they sure as heck won’t be an easy out.

Player to Watch: Darius Theus
There isn’t a whole lot of “sexy” to his game but he does many of the things that a true point guard should; lead the offense, take care of the basketball, get after it on D’, and come up big in clutch situations.  With a lot of talent surrounding him, Theus knows his role is to get everybody involved and that is a big part of what will make VCU such a threat this year.

Key Non-Conference Games:
11/13 vs. Wichita State
11/22 vs. Memphis (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/23 vs. Duke/Minnesota (Battle 4 Atlantis)
11/24 vs. Louisville/Northern Iowa/Missouri/Stanford (Battle 4 Atlantis)
12/1 vs. Belmont
12/7 at Old Dominion
12/15 vs. Alabama
12/18 vs. Western Kentucky

OTHER 111 IN 111’S:
#41 Davidson Wildcats
#42 Stanford Cardinal
#43 UMass Minutemen
#44 St. John’s Red Storm
#45 Butler Bulldogs
#46 Florida State Seminoles
#47 Drexel Dragons
#48 St. Louis Billikens
#49 West Virginia Mountaineers
#50 BYU Cougars
#51 Temple Owls
#52 Washington Huskies
#53 California Golden Bears
#54 Kansas State Wildcats
#55 Nevada Wolfpack
#56 Colorado Buffaloes
#57 Iowa State Cyclones
#58 Northern Iowa Panthers
#59 Colorado State Rams
#60 Iowa Hawkeyes
#61 South Florida Bulls
#62 Valparaiso Crusaders
#63 Illinois Fighting Illini
#64 Arkansas Razorbacks
#65 Wichita State Shockers
#66 George Mason Patriots
#67 Virginia Cavaliers
#68 Villanova Wildcats
#69 Maryland Terrapins
#70 Marshall Thundering Herd
#71 Iona Gaels
#72 Northwestern Wildcats
#73 Oklahoms State Cowboys
#74 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
#75 USC Trojans
#76 UConn Huskies
#77 Harvard Crimson
#78 Xavier Musketeers
#79 Ole Miss Rebels
#80 Clemson Tigers
#81 Oregon State Beavers
#82 Texas A&M Aggies
#83 Providence Friars
#84 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
#85 Oklahoma Sooners
#86 Lehigh Mountain Hawks
#87 Washington State Cougars
#88 Long Beach State 49ers
#89 Belmont Bruins
#90 Vanderbilt Commodores
#91 Dayton Flyers
#92 Houston Cougars
#93 UCF Knights
#94 Old Dominion Monarchs
#95 Oregon Ducks
#96 LSU Tigers
#97 South Carolina Gamecocks
#98 Seton Hall Pirates
#99 Georgia Bulldogs
#100 DePaul Blue Demons
#101 Boston College Eagles
#102 Penn State Nittany Lions
#103 Arizona State Sun Devils
#104 Virginia Tech Hokies
#105 Texas Tech Red Raiders
#106 Auburn Tigers
#107 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
#108 TCU Horned Frogs
#109 Mississippi State Bulldogs
#110 Utah Utes
#111 Nebraska Cornhuskers

David Kay is a senior feature NBA DraftNBA, and college basketball writer for the Sports Bank.  He also heads up the NBA and college basketball material at Walter Football.com and is a former contributor at The Washington Times Communities.  David has appeared on numerous national radio programs spanning from Cleveland to New Orleans to Honolulu.  He also had the most accurate 2011 NBA Mock Draft and the most accurate 2012 NBA Mock Draft on the internet (Yup, repeat champ… #humblebrag.)

You can follow him on Twitter at David_Kmiecik.

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