#40 VCU Rams: College Basketball 111 in 111

vcu dance team

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.

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Top Illini head coaching candidates: non Shaka Smart variety

buzz-williams-marquette

Well, I didn’t see that one coming. Shaka Smart had an offer of $2.5 million plus, doubling his salary, and a chance at a top 20 national job in what was the nation’s best conference this year. And he had a chance to step up from mid-major to high-major in the Big Ten. I’ve been to Richmond, Virginia a couple times so I can tell you- this denial was shocking.

The only way the decision to stay at VCU could be interpreted as a smart one is if Smart wants to be a Ram for life (and life means a decade or so) like Brad Stevens at Butler, or he’s holding out for the UConn and UCLA jobs; and now only one of those jobs looks to be open next year.  high percentage of Illini nation is hard right-wing politically. They won’t like a coach spurning them to stay at Virginia Commonwealth. “Sounds like a socialist commune!” they’ll say.

Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas had a plan: option 1 was Shaka Smart, option 2-11 was Smart.

Now it’s time to move on to option 12.

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Shaka Smart to the Illini would make sense on many levels

shaka smart

With the Bruce Weber termination in Champaign all but official, it’s time for Illini fans to start looking at who his successor will be. And there’s a lot of factors pointing in the direction of VCU leader Shaka Smart. He’s currently making $1.2 million per year now at Virginia Commonwealth on an eight year deal. Before his Final Four run, he made “just” $350,000 per season. He could have gotten even longer dough at NC State, as they offered him about $2 million a year for 6 years.

So that’s what it’s going to cost, in addition to the $3.9 million Weber buyout. Therefore, in order to spend money to make money, to break some eggs to prepare that omelet, Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas needs a splash hire. Perhaps he’s got the wheels in motion already.

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Who Really Thought the UConn Huskies Would Get Here?

Kemba Walker nba

The Connecticut Huskies have quietly been the surprise of the season. Butler and VCU are the surprises of the tournament, yes, but no one expected this out of Connecticut.  This season has been full of surprises, but there hasn’t been one bigger than the progression of the Connecticut Huskies.

The team went through the Jim Calhoun recruiting violations and his possible retirement.  They were considered a team that was too young and couldn’t handle the distractions that surrounded them. They were considered to only be a one man show and no way could they survive the Big East. Then, they started off the season surprising top 10 ranked teams in the Michigan State Spartans and Kentucky Wildcats in Maui. Everyone fell in love with Kemba Walker and named him king of college basketball. Until the Jimmer took over, Kemba was the nation’s leading scorer.

But then the inexperience and youth showed itself during the rigorous Big East schedule while the Huskies struggled down the stretch. With only a 9-9 record in the conference they were more like the team they were supposed to be – a young team with talent that wasn’t ready.

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VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart Making Wisconsin Proud


The Wisconsin Badgers and Marquette Golden Eagles both were outed in the Sweet 16, but that doesn’t mean the state isn’t paying attention anymore.

Shaka Smart, Head Coach of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and Wisconsin native has his squad dancing to their first ever Final Four.

The mastermind behind 2011’s Cinderella team hails from Fitchburg (a small city outside of Madison) and is one of the hottest up-and-comers in all of the NCAA.

By: Nick Grays

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VCU Rams: America’s new College Basketball Sweethearts?

vcu

This NCAA Tournament second weekend features four double digit seeds, three of them within one region. The Butler Bulldogs are back in the sweet sixteen, but it’s hard to actually consider them a cinderella, even though they’re in a mid-major conference.

The city of Richmond, Virginia (mighty metropolis, urbane, sophisticated, international, cosmopolitan mecca that it is) has two teams still left in the college basketball big dance. That’s as many as the Big East or Big Ten and twice as many as the Big 12. But it’s not the Richmond Spiders, but the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams out of the Colonial Athletic Association who appear to be America’s sweethearts now.

We all love a good underdog story, and the VCU Rams are the closest thing to a Cinderella that we have going right now.

By Paul M. Banks

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Purdue Gets Blown out of the Building by VCU

I guess VCU will soon become a trending term. Virginia Commonwealth University might become America’s sweethearts since we have no true cinderella this march madness season, and America loves an underdog story.

It’s fitting that Purdue University’s initials are PU, given the way they played tonight. At least on the defensive end, where they surrendered 94 points to the Rams and lost 94-76 in a game that was even more lopsided than it sounds.

The Rams even won the dance team/cheerleaders battle, as one of their girls walked across the United Center court on her hands. That physical feat was more impressive than anything the Purdue Boilermakers accomplished when it came to guarding their opposition and contesting their shots.

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2011 March Madness Predictions

bracket

It’s crunch time. The tournament is less than 24 hours away. By now you have gone through a dozen brackets, second guessing each pick. You want to choose the upset that no one is talking about, but your sleeper is becoming everyone’s sleeper. We see it every year; an upset pick that becomes so popular that it is no longer an upset, i.e. Richmond over Vanderbilt this year. At last, I’m here to give you six picks that no one is talking about, but should be, heading into the 2011 NCAA tournament.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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