Showing posts with label VCU Rams. Show all posts
Showing posts with label VCU Rams. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

VCU Wins 7th Straight, 91-81, Over St. Joe's Behind JeQuan Lewis' Career-High 34 Points

College Hoops Player of the Day for Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) appears ready for another wild ride through March as the Rams won their seventh straight, topping St. Joe's, 91-81, behind JeQuan Lewis' career-high 34 points.

Unranked despite a 21-5 record and an 11-2 mark atop the Atlantic 10 conference (tied with Dayton), VCU has been a mainstay of March Madness since the 2010-11 season in which second year head coach Shake Smart took them to the Final Four. After another year dmeolishing the Colonial Athletic conference in 2011-12, the Rams moved to the Atlantic 10 and continued their excellence.

Smart moved on to the University of Texas following the 2014-15 season, replaced by Will Wade, who guided the team to a 25-11 season, a tie for first in the conference and another NCAA appearance. The Rams were knocked out in the second round, but notice had been served that VCU was still on track, becoming one of the small conference powerhouses in the NCAA.

In Tuesday's home win, Lewis took just one shot that was not from beyond the 3-point line and missed it. He did, however, can 9 of 15 from downtown and made seven of nine from the foul line, adding five assists in 36 minutes on the court.

The 6'1" senior out of Dickson, Tennessee, leads the Rams in both scoring and assists, averaging 15.6 points and 4.5 assists per game.

The Rams have five games left in their regular season, including a key rematch at Dayton, tied with VCU in the A-10 standings. VCU kncked off the Flyers, 73-68, back on January 27.

A first or second place finish in the conference and a good showing in the conference tourney should be enough to land the Rams their seventh straight NCAA invite.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Treveon Graham Leads VCU to Atlantic 10 Title; All Conference Champions Crowned, It's Time to Choose At-Large Teams

Conference Champions and College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 15, 2015

Kentucky 78 Arkansas 63 - Kentucky completed its mission, as promised, to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated, their 34-0 record a gauntlet thrown down to 67 other teams. The Wildcats led right from the opening tip, starting with an 8-0 run to put the Razorbacks on their heels, and were never threatened. A 41-25 lead at the half as cut to nine by the Razorbacks but the Wildcats expanded it to as many as 21 points as Kentucky simply outplayed the hopelessly-overmatched Arkansas squad.

Atlantic 10
VCU 71 Dayton 65 - VCU got hot nearing the end of the first half and finished with a 9-2 run for a 33-26 lead at the break. Dayton battled back to tie the game at numerous points in the second half but could never wrest the lead away from the Rams, who engineered a four-point lead with under a minute to play and then proceeded to make eight straight free throws to secure the championship, their first, after reaching the final in each of the past two seasons.

Treveon Graham led all scorers with 20 points and ripped down a game-high 13 boards. Graham, who was 3-for-8 on three-pointers, also contributed four assists and a steal.

Sun Belt
Georgia State 38 Georgia Southern 36 - In the lowest-scoring championship game this season, the Panthers outlasted the Eagles thanks to 18 points from Kevin Ware. Georgia State shot just 33% from the field, but it was enough to win, as Georgia Southern hit at merely a 23% rate (11-47).

Big Ten
Wisconsin 80 Michigan State 69 OT - With an automatic bid on the line and a possible #1 seed for Wisconsin at stake, the Spartans took the Badgers into overtime, but eventually came up short as Wisconsin fulfilled their season-long destiny of being the best team to come out of the Big Ten and shut out the Spartans in overtime, 11-0. Nigel Hayes had a huge game, leading all scorers with 25 points, including a perfect, 12-for-12 from the foul line.

SMU 62 Connecticut 54 - Rodney Purvis kept the Huskies alive with a game-high 29 points, but eventually, basketball is a team game and the balanced scoring of the Mustangs brought home the American Athletic conference title. Coach Larry Brown has yet another team in the NCAA tournament.

That's a wrap for now. On to the selection process, seedings and bracket madness. Full report later tonight and/or early Monday AM.

Conference Championship Scoreboard

Date/Conf. Champ. Champion (record, defeated, final score)
March 7
Ohio Valley Belmont (22-10, Murray State, 88-87)

March 8
Big South Coastal Carolina (24-9, Winthop, 81-70)
Missouri Valley Northern Iowa (29-3, Illinois, St., 69-60)
Atlantic Sun North Florida (23-11, USC Upstate, 63-57)

March 9
Colonial Northeastern (23-11, William & Mary, 73-61)
Metro Atlantic Manhattan (19-13, Iona, 79-69)
Southern Wofford (28-6, Furman, 67-64)

March 10
Horizon Valparaiso (28-5, Green Bay, 54-44)
Northeast Robert Morris (19-14, St. Francis BRK, 66-63)
Summit League N. Dakota St. (23-9, S. Dakota St., 57-56)
West Coast Gonzaga (33-2, BYU, 91-75)

March 11
Patriot League Lafayette (20-9, American, 65-63)

March 14
America East Albany (24-8, Stony Brook, 51-50)
Conference USA UAB (19-15, Middle Tenn., 73-60)
Ivy* Harvard (22-7, Yale, 53-51)
Mid-Eastern Hampton (16-17, Delaware St., 82-61)
Big 12 Iowa State (25-8, Kansas, 70-66)
Mountain West Wyoming (25-9, San Diego St., 45-43)
Mid-American Buffalo (23-9, Cent. Michigan, 89-84)
Southwest Athletic Texas Southern (22-12, Southern U., 62-58)
Big East Villanova (31-2, Xavier, 61-43)
ACC Notre Dame (29-5, N. Carolina, 90-82)
Big Sky E. Washington (26-8, Montana, 69-65)
Big West UC Irvine (21-12, Hawaii, 67-58)
Southland Stephen F. Austin (25-8, Sam Houston, 83-70)
PAC-12 Arizona (31-3, Oregon, 80-52)
Western Athletic New Mexico St. (23-10, Seattle U., 80-61)

March 15
SEC Kentucky (34-0, Arkansas, 78-63)
Atlantic 10 VCU (26-9, Dayton, 71-65)
Sun Belt Georgia State (24-9, Georgia Southern, 38-36)
Big Ten Wisconsin (31-3, Michigan State, 80-69)
American SMU (27-6, Connecticut, 62-54)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Treveon Graham Powers VCU to Double OT Win over La Salle

College Hoops Player of the Day for Saturday, January 25, 2014

Loaded with quality teams, the Atlantic-10 conference may not be getting its fair share of respect from the poll voters. Only the Massachusetts Minutemen (16-2, 3-1) and the St. Louis Bilikens (18-2, 5-0) are currently represented, at #13, and #19, respectively.

Missing is VCU (16-4, 4-1), but the Rams made their case Saturday on the road, with a double overtime win at La Salle, as Treveon Graham scored a career-high 34 points in the 97-89 victory.

Graham not only performed at a high level, but without his effort, the Rams would likely not be tied for second place in the conference, along with Richmond and George Washington. Graham scored nine of the last ten points for the Rams in regulation, including the final six, to tie the contest at 73-all, and threw down six of VCU's seven points in the first overtime, again scoring the final six, though he missed a free throw that would have given the Rams the win with six seconds left in the first extra session.

Though Graham did not score in the second overtime, he did have an assist and a rebound, as his teammates finished off the Explorers. Rob Brandenburg buried a pair of three pointers, Juvante Reddick had a pair of buckets and and Briante Weber sealed the win, nailing seven of eight free throws in the final 1:19.

Graham, who played 44 minutes, was 11-for-23 from the field with two three-pointers and was 10-for-16 from the foul line with 12 rebounds and a pair of assists. Reddic complemented with 27 points and 15 boards, his sixth double-double of the season.

A prolific scorer, Graham has tallied in double figures in all but one game this season and leads the Rams at 16.1 points per game.

VCU has won eight of their last nine and three in a row. They next host Fordham, this Wednesday night, January 29.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Juvonte Reddic Wrecks Old Dominion, as VCU Triumphs, 69-48

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, December 8, 2013

If a team is going to play the VCU Rams, and plan on beating them, that team better have a solid low post presence to deal with senior forward Juvonte Reddic, as Old Dominion found out Sunday afternoon in Richmond, Virginia.

Reddic, if left to his own devices, can absolutely take over and dominate a game, as he did while on the court for 30 minutes in VCU's 69-48 plastering of the Monarchs.

Notching his fourth double-double of the season, the 6'9" Reddic scored a season-high and game-high 24 points on 12-for-16 shooting, while hauling down 12 rebounds, five of them on the offensive end. Reddic was also a defensive stud, blocking four shots and coming away with a pair of steals.

VCU broke open a close game (34-31) at the half, outscoring Old Dominion 35-17 in the second half. The Rams also held a huge rebounding edge, 50-34.

The Rams, improving to 8-2, have been a NCAA tournament fixture the past few seasons and have the potential to do damage within and outside of the powerful Atlantic 10 Conference.

VCU has won four straight and head to Northern Illinois next, on Saturday, December 14.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Darius Theus, Treveon Graham, Juvonte Reddic Lead VCU to 10th Straight Win

College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't look now, but after a 3-3 start to their season, the VCU Rams have reeled off 12 straight wins including their 92-86 win in OT against the visiting St. Joseph's Hawks.

Point guard Darius Theus was distributing the ball to teammates, with 10 assists, and when he wasn't passing off, he scored 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting.

Sophomore Treveon Graham led all scorers with 25 points, hitting 10 of 17 shots, including four of seven from 3-point range. He also chipped in with seven boards, three off the offensive glass.

The most dominant player on the court was Juvonte Reddic. The 6'9" junior forward scored 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting, and ripped down 17 rebounds, a career high.

The Rams are undefeated in Atlantic 10 play, but they have plenty of company. Xavier, Butler and Charlotte are each tied for the lead with VCU, at 3-0. Look for the A-10 to send three, if not four, teams to the NCAA tournament in March. VCU almost certainly will be one of them.

NOTABLE: #5 Michigan may have missed their opportunity to be ranked number one when they lost at Ohio State, 56-53, on Sunday, but they were having no part of losing a second consecutive game, despite being on the road again, at #8 Minnesota. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points to lead the Wolverines to the 83-75 win. Michigan broke the game open early in the second half and led by as many as 19 points.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

VCU Backcourt of Troy Daniels and Treveon Graham Dominate ODU

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, December 7, 2012

An extremely light slate of games graced Friday night, with just 11 contests taking place. After all it is college, and December, so all of those stdents and student athletes were out partying, er... studying for finals, no doubt.

Down at Old Dominion, the Monarchs weren't exactly rulers of their home court, as visiting VCU handed them their seventh straight loss, downing them by an 83-70 final tally.

The Ram back court of senior Troy Daniels and sophomore Treveon Graham teamed for 24 ad 23 points, respectively, with Daniels setting a career high on 8-for-16 shooting, all of his field goals coming from the beyond the three-point line, from where he was 8-for-13.

Graham, who is quickly turning into a big-time scoring threat, having scored in double figures in seven of nine VCU games this season, was 7-for-13 from the field, 8-for-12 from the charity stripe and came up just short of a double-double, with nine boards.

VCU is 6-3, with losses to some solid programs, Duke, Missouri and Wichita State. ODU dropped to 1-8.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bracket Breakdown: 2011 Final Four Semi-finals

The Final Four has gathered in Houston for a pair of Saturday semi-final games at Relaint Stadium that will determine the participants in Monday's National Championship game.

Here's a brief breakdown of the contestants and analysis of both games.

(11) VCU (28-11) vs. (8) Butler (27-9), 6:09 pm ET - Judging by the prevailing wisdom of both the bracket analyzers and the tournament committee itself, neither of these teams was supposed to make it this far. It's rare to get any team in with a higher seed than 6, much less get two in the same year.

The basketball gods have bestowed an additional gift by having them play each other, though both have proven their mettle against some of the best teams in the tournament.

VCU is by far the more athletic and energetic of the two teams. They will look to speed up the pace of the game and take advantage of any and all Butler mistakes, though the Bulldogs are a fairly disciplined bunch. VCU will probably opt to contest more than a few inbounds passes, a weakness of Butler's exposed against Wisconsin.

Additionally, VCU's inside presence may be more than Butler's Matt Howard and Andrew Smith can handle. VCU's Jamie Skeen, Juvonte Reddic and Toby Veal go 6'9", 6'9" and 6'8", respectively. While Howard will handle his end of the deal, Smith, though 6'11", is only a sophomore and doesn't possess the experience of the VCU forwards though freshman Khyle Marshall has given valuable minutes inside.

Both teams play solid man-to-man and zone defenses. VCU has been making a living at the 3-point line, with Bradford Burgess and Brandon Rozzell doing most of the damage. Butler's Shelvin Mack will have to be in top form to counter the VCU attack, especially speedy Joey Rodriguez.

Take nothing away from Butler. They are well-coached and know how to win close games. They currently possess the nation's longest active winning streak, at 13 games. VCU is a 2 1/2-point favorite and has more depth than the Bulldogs.

(4) Kentucky (29-8) vs. (3) Connecticut (30-9), 8:49 pm ET - Kentucky head coach John Calipari has - for the second year in a row - taken a group of talented freshmen and molded them into a cohesive unit capable of taking on any team in the country. Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb are all freshman and also are the team's three leading scorers. Juniors Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins compose the remainder of the starting five, all of whom score in double figures besides Liggins, who checks in at 8.8 ppg.

The interior is the domain of Josh Harrleson, who has been magnificent on defense in the post and has contributed well to Kentucky's flow offense. Of all the teams in America, Kentucky probably has the most number of players who can make individual plays, a fact not lost on the Connecticut Huskies.

For UConn, the ball started rolling in Maui, when the Huskies unveiled Kemba Walker and won the Maui Classic, with wins over Wichita State, Michigan State and Kentucky, the final of the tourney going in an 84-67 rout, to Connecticut. The team the Huskies beat in Maui bears resemblance only in the most superficial way. Kentucky's players have matured considerably since that December date and are much more of a team than a bunch of individual future stars, as was the case back then.

UConn's game comes down to Walker, almost unavoidably and the Huskies seem to thrive on the tournament environment, having run through the Big East with five straight wins and four more in the NCCAs. Kentucky, however, also won the SEC tournament and is riding a 10-game streak.

Everybody on Kentucky will have a chance to guard Kemba Walker, as slick and elusive as he is. Walker has proven to be unguardable by a single player and his presence and quickness puts extra pressure on opposing defenses. He's been aided by the emergence of freshman Jeremy Lamb, the team's second leading scorer, who has come of age through the rigors of the tournament. He's a future star in his own right and will match up well against the Wildcats.

The Huskies will also have plenty to say on drives to the hoop and in the rebounding department with solid Alex Oriakhi and Charles Okwandu responsible for clogging the lane. The inside game will be very physical and not much of an advantage for either team.

The oddsmakers have Kentucky a 2 1/2-point favorite, hinged upon the Wildcats' ability to hold Walker in check and UConn's defense, which must contend every shot. Team depth favors the Huskies who will go nine deep into their bench, while Kentucky prefers to go with a six or seven man rotation.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Final Four Field Set: Rams and Wildcats Advance

The final two pieces of the Final Four puzzle fell into place Sunday as the VCU Rams pulled off a stunning upset of Kansas, eliminating the last of the #1 seeds and Kentucky vanquished North Carolina, sending the Wildcats to their first Final Four since 1998.

VCU 71 Kansas 61 - Criticized by many as being unworthy of inclusion into the NCAA field, the VCU Rams pounded the Kansas Jayhawks from the opening tip to the final buzzer, sending the last of the #1 seeds packing.

Seeded #11 after defeating USC in a play-in game, the Rams, representing the Colonial Athletic Conference, won their 5th straight tournament game, completing a sweep of five of the six "power" conferences. Virginia Commonwealth has beaten a team from the PAC-10 (USC), Big East (Georgetown), Big Ten (Purdue), SEC (Florida) and now, the Big 12 (Kansas). The only conference unscathed by the horn of the Rams is the ACC, and they were eliminated in the West regional when Kentucky knocked out North Carolina.

Led by Jamie Skeen's game high 26 points and 10 rebounds, the Rams opened up a double-digit lead early on the Jayhawks and never looked back. Kansas drew to within four points in the second half, but were turned away repeatedly by VCU's deadeye shooting and tenacious defense. VCU hit 12 of 25 3-pointers, holding Kansas to just 2-for-21 beyond the arc and 36% (22 of 62) overall.

It is VCU's first-ever Final Four appearance, and fittingly, they get to play another small conference team, the Butler Bulldogs, who emerged as the #8 seed from the Southwest region.

Kentucky 76 North Carolina 69 - The Wildcats led nearly the entire game and at one point in the second half were up by 11 points, but a resolute North Carolina squad brought the game to a tie in the closing minutes.

Brandon Knight made a three-pointer and hit three clutch free throws to ice the game. Sandwiched in between Knight's scores was another trey by DeAndre Liggins. North Carolina could not get the ball in the bucket in the final minute, sending the Wildcats on to face the Connecticut Huskies on Saturday, April 2nd in a semi-final match-up.

Knight was the game's high scorer with 22 points, one better than Carolina's Tyler Zeller. Knight also handled six rebounds and four assists, and was 5-for-11 from 3-point range. The Wildcats hit 12 of 22 three-point jacks, while the Tar Heels were only able to can 3 of 18 from beyond the arc. All five Kentucky starters finished in double figures.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweet 16 Results and Recaps - Friday Games


North Carolina 81 Marquette 63 - The Tar Heels used a swarming, oppressive defense to disrupt Marquette early and score frequently inside, racing to a 40-15 half time lead. Marquette held their own in the second half, but it was much to late to keep North Carolina from advancing. Tyler Zeller had another enormous game, notching 27 points to go with 17 rebounds, none of them on the offensive end.

Kentucky 62 Ohio State 60 - Brandon Knight's 15-foot jumper with 5.4 left broke a 60-all tie and Will Buford's 3-point heave at the buzzer fell short as the Wildcats pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. A hotly contested game throughout, neither team led by more than seven, and there was no margin of more than four points in the entire second half.

Ohio State's Jared Sullinger had his usual monster game with 21 points and 17 rebounds, but Kentucky's Josh Harrellson battled well inside, scoring 17 points and ripping down 10 boards on his own. DeAndre Liggins was lightning in a bottle in the latter stages of the second half, finishing with 15 points and 6 rebounds. He and Harrellson were the only Wildcats in double figures.

Kentucky's win left Kansas as the sole remaining #1 seed in the tournament.

North Carolina will play Kentucky on Sunday, for the right to play in the Final Four.


Kansas 77 Richmond 57 - Simply too big, too fast and too talented for the Richmond Spiders to handle, Kansas quickly established a lead and expanded it over the first 20 minutes, leading 41-22 by half time. This was pretty much a team effort blowout, led by Brady Morningstar's 18 points. Nine different Jayhawks showed up on the scorer's sheet, evidence they are probably the deepest team remaining in the tournament.

VCU 72 Florida State 71 - In what had to be the most physical game of the tournament, the Seminoles and Rams found themselves stalemated at 65 through the first 40 minutes and forced into overtime to settle their differences.

The game boiled down to the inability of Florida State, the best defense in the nation, to defend an inbound pass under their own basket. With 7 seconds left, Joey Rodriguez triggered the ball into Bradford Burgess, who laid it in to give the Rams a one-point lead. Florida State players raced down court, but could not get off another shot.

Bradford, who had five of VCU's seven points in overtime, finished with a game-high 26 points on 9-for-16 shooting, including six of seven from 3-point range.

Kansas and VCU square off Sunday, the winner advancing to the Final Four in Houston.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Joey Rodriguez and Bradford Burgess Deliver VCU to the Sweet 16

College Hoops Player of the Day for Sunday, March 20, 2011

For a team which many analysts said didn't belong, the VCU Rams certainly look pretty good. Not only did they absolutely hammer USC in the opening round, 59-46, but then expanded their margin of victory to 18 points in their next two games, whipping Georgetown, 74-56, and Purdue, 94-76, on Sunday.

The win over the Boilermakers put them into the Sweet 16, along with a host of other high seeds, like Richmond (12) and Marquette (11). VCU came in as an 11.

Fueling the offense is one of the smallest players on the court, Joey Rodriguez, the jitterbug who weaves through defenders to deliver pinpoint passes to his teammates. On Sunday, Rodriguez was at his best, distributing the ball for 11 of his team's 24 assists and scoring 12 points to add to the onslaught.

A good number of those passes found their way into the capable hands of Bradford Burgess, who hit on 8 of 12 shots, including 3 three-pointers for 23 points. Burgess also snatched 8 boards.

VCU Florida State, a 10 seed, in the next round of the Southwest region, one that has seen more than its fair share of upsets.

Round of 32 Results and Recaps - Sunday Games


North Carolina 86 Washington 83 - Proving once again that size matters, Washington cold not contain the Tar Heel big men - Tyler Zeller (23 points) and John Henson (10 points, 10 boards) - but little Isaiah Thomas and the Huskies took them to the limit.

Ohio State 98 George Mason 66 - the Buckeyes continued to decimate anything in their way, as they smothered the Patriots. David Lighty was 9-for-10 from the field for a game-high 25 points.

Marquette 66 Syracuse 62 - the Golden Eagles soared once again, doing to Syracuse what they did to them during the Big East regular season. The lead changed hands frequently, but Marquette made the plays down the stretch. An 11 seed, Marquette is a surprise from the Big East, which has now seen more than half of their 11 teams gone in the first weekend.


VCU 94 Purdue 76 - VCU took a ten-point lead into half time and extended it through the second half, dominating all aspects of the game and distributing 24 assists as a team. Bradford Burgess had 23 points and 8 rebounds for the Rams and 5'10" Joey Rodriguez distributed 11 assists to go with his 10 points.

Kansas 73 Illinois 59 - The Jayhawks had little trouble beating coach Bill Self's former school, getting 24 points and 12 rebounds from Markieff Morris and 17 and 12 from twin brother Marcus.


Duke 73 Michigan 71 - Duke survived a serious scare from the Wolverines when Darius Morris missed a runner in the lane with two seconds left after erasing most of a 15-point Duke second half lead. Nolan Smith led all scorers with 24 points, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski notched his 900th career win.

Arizona 70 Texas 69 - Texas trailed nearly the entire game, but had two close-in chances to win the game as time ran down. Arizona continued the Longhorns' frustrations in the NCAA tournament by ousting them in an early round again.

Florida State 71 Notre Dame 57 - The Seminoles stunned Notre Dame, smothering them with the nation's best defense and advancing to face VCU in the Sweet 16. Florida State held the usually high-scoring Fighting Irish to just 32% shooting. Bernard James had 14 points and 10 boards for the Seminoles.

Notre Dame was the 9th of 11 teams from the Big East to lose on the opening weekend, leaving just Marquette and UConn from the conference, widely considered to be the best in the nation. Not any more.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rams Defy Critics, Dump USC; UTSA wins, to Face Ohio State

College Hoops Player of the Day for Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Widely criticized for entry into the NCAA field, considered not worthy of playing with the nation's best teams, the VCU Rams left no doubt that they belonged, smashing the USC Trojans with a stifling defense and a dominating second half.

After the first half ended with the score tied at 22-all, Jamie Skeen and his band of upperclassmen went to work, limiting the Trojans to 24 points, while scoring 37 of their own, mostly on the inside and at the free throw line for the 59-46 victory.

Skeen led all scorers with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting with a pair of three-pointers. He also had nine rebounds and was the only Ram in double figures.

VCU, seeded 11th in the Southwest region, faces the Georgetown Hoyas on Friday with the opportunity to advance further into the field.

In the earlier "First Four" contest, UTSA dropped Alabama State, 70-61. The Roadrunners face the daunting task of taking on the tournament's top seed, Ohio State, in the next round on Friday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bracket Madness: Tuesday and Wednesday Play-in Games Preview

OK, so nobody has to actually pick these Tuesday and Wednesday play-in games. That's the good news. The bad news is that no matter what, the NCAA tournament committee will believe that college hoops fans actually like the idea of having an extra four teams added for no other reason than to make the field larger or more competitive, when all along the idea was just to fill empty space in some network's otherwise dull content.

These games offer nothing to the brocketologists out there except to make their lives a little more difficult. All of the bracket challenges, in either online form or though your work or office are set up to just include the winner of these games, no matter which team wins. The problem is that one or the other may win, and set up a completely different match-up in (what now is) the second round. It's just confusing and the NCAA should go back to the straight 64-team format that has worked so well for so long.

Actually, adding these extra teams and games somewhat backfired on the NCAA selection committee only because they chose the wrong teams! Colorado should be in the tournament, along with Harvard and probably Virginia Tech and St. Mary's.

Whatever the outcome of these games, they're unnecessary and will likely have almost no impact on the overall tournament, so, be that as it may, let's analyze what we've been given.

Tuesday, March 15:

Play-in Game 1: North Carolina-Asheville vs. Arkansas Little Rock (Southeast Region) 6:30 pm ET - this gets a really, really big WHO CARES? because the winner will be up against the tp seed in the region, the Pittsburgh Panthers and they will lose, badly. If it's any consolation, the NC-Asheville Bulldogs got the automatic bid by winning the Big South tournament over Coastal Carolina in the final. They are however one of the dreaded 13-loss teams in the tournament and show pretty substantial losses to North Carolina, Georgetown and Ohio State. The Buckeyes nearly doubled them over, winning 96-49 back in December. The Bulldogs beat Auburn the first game of the season. Big whoop! They are, however, on a six-game winning streak.

Their opponent, Arkansas-Little Rock snuck into the tournament by beating North Texas in the Sun Belt tourney final, 64-63. The Trojans won four straight in the tournament and shocked even themselves and their coaches. Making these guys even more improbable, is their 19-16 record, not even a game against a ranked opponent and they finished with the 8th best record in their conference, at 7-9.

ADVICE: Take the kids from Asheville. At least they lost fewer games. Pitt will murder either of these teams.

Play-in Game 2: Clemson vs. UAB (East Region) 9:00 pm ET - This one is even worse. The Blazers blazed their way through the most overrated conference in America, Conference USA, winning the regular season with a 12-4 record. They lost to East Carolina, 75-70 in OT in the first round of their conference tournament (eventually won by Memphis). The Blazers did finish the season with a 22-8 record, though the bulk of those wins were over weak C-USA competition.

Clemson (21-11, 9-7) had a pretty solid season and sports a fine back-court, led by point guard Demontez Stitt, who led the Tigers in scoring, assists and steals. Clemson should be able to dominate the Blazers inside as well and it's a wonder the line is only -4 1/2. Clemson has an idea about winning tournament games and could easily advance in the next round, against a leaderless West Virginia squad. We'll have to wait and see.

ADVICE: Take the Tigers here and over WVA in the next round if you are playing some wide open brackets.

Wednesday, March 16:

Play-in Game #3: UTSA vs. Alabama State (East Region) 6:30 pm ET - Seriously, Alabama State was 17-17. There should be a rule that you can't get in if your team is .500 or worse, but the Hornets won the SWAC Tournament, so they get to play another game. The UTSA Roadrunners (let's hope there are no Wile E. Coyotes in the field) won the Southland tournament and here they are, complete with 19-13 record.

ADVICE: Hope the game is cancelled and Ohio State is given a bye, because neither of these teams stands a change against the Buckeyes.

Play-in Game 4: VCU vs. USC (Southwest Region) 9:00 pm ET - This game is at least interesting in that either team can win and have a chance against Georgetown, the #6 seed in the East, because Georgetown faded in the stretch and while they will have the services of point guard Chris Wright, but he has been out of action since mid-February and the Hoyas lost five of their last six, beating only South Florida.

VCU finished 4th in the Colonial Athletic and lost in the tourney final to Old Dominion. They sport some senior leadership and and compiled a 23-11 record over mostly nobody. They did beat UCLA and Wofford, though, and merit some respect. USC finished 4th in the PAC-10 with a 10-8 record and managed to beat both Texas and Tennessee and lost by just two points at Kansas. The Trojans have been up and down, but they're far more athletic than VCU and should win this one going away. Oddsmakers have them as a 4 1/2 point favorite, but they probably did that to encourage more people to take VCU.

ADVICE: USC played spirited ball down the stretch, winning six of their last seven and lost to Arizona in the conference tourney. They are surely well-rested and should also give Georgetown fits n the next round.

Check back tomorrow and every day for frequent updates on the Road to Houston and the Final Four.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chattanooga, VCU Earn NCAA Auto Bids

Southern Conference Final: Chattanooga 80, College of Charleston 69

With the game tied at 34-all at the half, Ty Patterson hit three 3-pointers from off the bench to key a 20-0 run by the Chattanooga Mocs that stunned the College of Charleston and sent the Mocs on to victory in the Southern Conference tournament finals and into the NCAA tournament field.

Patterson, a freshman guard, has been a key all season for the Mocs, contributing 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on average, but in the biggest game of his short college career, he was almost perfect, hitting 4 of 5 shots from the floor. Keyron Sheard led the Mocs in scoring with 18 points. Patterson also grabbed 5 boards in his limited minutes.

After the big run, Chattanooga nearly collapsed, allowing a 14-point Charleston run to close the gap to six points, but the Mocs got it back together in time to remain in front the rest of the way.

Charleston's Tony White Jr. tried to keep the Cougars in the game, hitting 7 of 13 3-pointers and leading all scorers with 31 points.

Chattanooga will be making their 10th NCAA appearance, posting a 3-10 record. They lost to wake Forest in the opening round in their last trip to the big dance, in 2005.

Colonial Athletic Assn. Final: VCU 71, George Mason 50

Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders led VCU to an automatic NCAA bid by dominating George Mason in the finals of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

Maynor led the scoring with 25 points while Sanders was a beast on both ends of the floor, scoring 18 points with 20 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.

The Rams led from start to finish, establishing a lead of as many as 13 points in the first half, keeping George Mason off-balance and out of sync throughout. The Patriots shot just 31% from the field.

The Rams will be making their 9th NCAA tournament appearance. Over the years, they've compiled a record of 5-8.