2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: Virginia Commonwealth

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: Virginia Commonwealth
March 16, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Team: Virginia Commonwealth Rams (26-8, 12-4, Atlantic 10)

Seed/Region: No. 5/South

Status: At-large

Matchup: vs. No. 12 Stephen F. Austin (31-2, 18-0 Southland)

Where: San Diego, Calif.

History: 13th appearance in program history, fourth straight season

Coach: Shaka Smart, 5th season

Leaders: Scoring (Treveon Graham, 15.7), Rebounding (Juvonte Reddic, 8.5), Assists (Briante Weber, 3.8)

What's new: The Rams' six-game winning streak ended Sunday in the A-10 championship, falling 65-61 to Saint Joseph's.

What to know: Sophomore guard Melvin Johnson suffered a knee injury in Saturday's A-10 semifinal win over George Washington and did not play in Sunday's championship game.

Notable wins: at Virginia, GW (2), Saint Louis

[RELATED: Meet all 68 teams in the 2014 NCAA tournament]

Notable losses: Only "bad" setback came at Northern Iowa (RPI 109)

Simply notable: Smart became VCU's all-time winningest coach in school history with Saturday's victory over George Washington, passing Sonny Smith (136)

KenPom: Overall (10), Offense adjusted efficiency (99), Defense adjusted efficiency (2)

RPI: 12

Strength: VCU leads the nation in total steals (11.3 ppg) thanks to its "Havoc" defense

Weakness: Half court offense isn't that special when opponents can dial back the tempo. Six of eight losses came when scoring 68 or less.

Scoring: 75.4 points per game

Good stat: Weber leads the country with 3.5 steals

Bad stat: Reddic takes the second most free throws on the team, but sinks only 56 percent of them

Key player: The electric and thieving Weber is the tone setter defensively with his ability to speed up opposing point guards and jump passing lane. The junior entered the A-10 Tourney scoring nine points per game, but went for 18 and 16 in the first two games. He will need to score more if Johnson misses games.

Key to success: This one is simple: Push the pace defensively, have Graham and other shooters drain 3's while Reddic and power-packed reserve Mo Alie-Cox clean up any misses. This overall formula has clearly worked. Under Smart, VCU is 28-8 in March.

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