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5 Things VCU Basketball Must Do To Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament

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Five Things VCU Basketball Must Do To Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament

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VCU is having a decent season, but their success is far from the nationally-ranked team of last season. VCU has won some big games, but they still have much work to do if they’re going to see March.

Long gone is the team that had Final Four experience. Instead, VCU is having a down season in a new A-10 Conference. Senior star forward Juvonte Reddic is one of two players left from the 2010-11 team that reached the Final Four.

VCU’s signature “havoc” defense has been nonexistent most of this season. Head coach Shaka Smart will have to get his squad to remember that their defense is what has gained them recognition. While the team had some big wins against nationally-ranked Virginia, Boston College and George Washington, they had some tough losses that may hurt them come selection Sunday. VCU will most likely make the NCAA tournament; however, the 77-68 loss to Northern Iowa might hold them back. Northern Iowa has an RPI of 116.

The other losses have come against teams in the top 70 for RPIs. Most of their losses have been close, so it should hurt their tournament chances. They may be on the bubble if they don’t win three of their last five games.

The 20-6 VCU Rams have a chance to catch first-place Saint Louis. VCU will be looking forward to the rematch with Saint Louis after losing a close one to the Billikens last Saturday. Besides Saint Louis, the Rams will close out their regular season against tough conference foes UMass and Richmond.

Here are five ways for VCU to stamp a ticket for the big dance.

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5. Shaka Smart Needs To Focus On Improvement

Shaka Smart
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VCU head coach Shaka Smart needs to focus on fixing their weaknesses. The Rams have been dealing with problems on both ends of the court all season, and it has shown against Saint Louis, Saint Joseph's and Florida State. They will need to make adjustments during the games if they are to put away tougher opponents.

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4. Improve Defense

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While VCU's defense has been solid all season, it could use some improvement. They're leading the nation in steals, but are a mediocre 65th in points allowed, 121st in blocks and 258th in rebounding. Steals can take them far, particularly when the A-10 tournament is tightly officiated. Bigger teams will exploit the Rams' frontcourt unless they improve on guarding the post.

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3. Win The A-10 Tournament

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VCU most likely will get selected to the NCAA tournament, but one way to guarantee themselves a spot is to win the A-10 tournament for an automatic bid. Reaching the finals isn't good enough.

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2. Beat The Saint Louis Billikens

Saint Louis
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Saint Louis has been problematic for VCU after beating them in a tightly-contested game last Saturday. The Billikens ended up on top 64-62. VCU must beat Saint Louis in the rematch at the Siegel Center on March 1. The 12th-ranked Billikens will be tough to beat as they're playing hot with 18 straight wins this season. With a win over Saint Louis, there's a strong chance VCU will earn an automatic bid for the NCAA tournament and a chance to overtake Saint Louis for the A-10 regular season title.

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1. Finish The Season Strong

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VCU must win three of their last five games of the regular season, otherwise they'll need to bank on winning the A-10 tournament. Three of their next five opponents have less than 10 losses, and one of them is nationally-ranked. Of course, VCU must not hit a roadblock against the lowly Fordham Rams if they are to be in consideration for selection Sunday.