The VCU Rams have quietly flown under the radar this season and are paving the way to make another magical tournament run. The Rams finally gained some national recognition this week earning their first ever regular season ranking coming in at No. 24 in the USA-Today/ESPN Coaches Top-25 poll.
VCU is 12-3 heading into conference play and was beaten only by Duke, Missouri and Wichita State. If there is such a thing as forgivable losses, these three have to make the top of the list. Duke is favored by many to win it all, while Missouri and Wichita State should both make a splash in the tournament.
What has led to the Ram’s success? Their defense is a ball hungry group that translates turnovers into points. VCU is ranked first in the country in total steals (202), steals per game (13.5) and turnover margin (+8.8). The core of VCU’s high pressured defensive philosophy is to force mistakes and create more possessions than their opponent. They are doing just that.
Anyone that has watched VCU the last few years knows that defense is their bread and butter. Now they have an offense to complement it. Last season, VCU averaged 1.02 points per possession, 101st nationally. This year, the Rams are scoring 1.13 points every time they have the ball, placing them in the top 15 in the country.
Senior guard Troy Daniels is getting hot at the right time and has become the leader of a seemingly young roster. He has 64 three-pointers on the season, the second most in the nation.
The Rams don’t have a cakewalk the rest of the season and will have to play their best within the Atlantic 10. If they can do this, we may witness something very similar to the 2011 season, VCU shocking the nation and making it to the Final Four.
The Rams will host Dayton tonight at 7:00pm (EST).