2013 NCAA Tournament: How No.5 VCU Should Handle No.12 Akron

By Mike Gillmeister
Anthony Gruppuso-USA Today Sports

The No.5-seed VCU Rams take on Zeke Marshall and the No.12-seed Akron Zips in both teams’ first game in the NCAA Tournament and the Rams could join the one-and-done club if they aren’t careful.

Marshall finished the regular season at fourth in the nation with 3.69 blocks per-game and leads the Zips with 13 points per-game — shooting just over 65-percent from the field. At 7-feet-tall, Marshall might just be an impenetrable force. Then again, he has a game average of three fouls and also shoots just under 65-percent from the free-throw line.

Translation: Hack-A-Zeke might not be a bad strategy for VCU.

Marshall has just 11 makes in his last 22 free-throw attempts — a span of three games. For a Rams team that sometimes goes 10-deep in their rotation, finding someone to use as a designated enforcer doesn’t seem too difficult a task.

On the offensive side of the ball, Troy Daniels is a prolific 3-point shooter, sinking about 41-percent of his shots from deep. He, Treveon Graham and Rob Brandenberg need to take advantage of a Zips defense that doesn’t expand much past the paint.

However, for those three to get the best looks on the perimeter, Darius Theus and Briante Weber need to play like the players that finished the regular season averaging at least two steals per-game and anchor the transition game to get open looks for their teammates.

VCU has the tools to get it done but rash decisions could send the Rams home early.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com, or on Twitter:@mgillmeiRantCBB. Like his Facebook page here for updates on Big 12/A-10 men’s basketball.

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