|Written by Michael|
Bet on NCAABNow that VCU has made it to the Final Four, the analyses of why this unexpected team made this unpredictable run will start to come in.
From their three-point shooting to the fact that smaller schools keep good players around for longer than the big schools, observers will put forward numerous valid reasons for the Rams' success.
But one factor that has undoubtedly contributed to VCU's ability to slay the giants of the NCAA tournament is their deep, talented bench. In fact, the Rams bench scores 25.6 points per game, which reflects one of the most talented groups of reserve players left in the tournament. Joey Rodriguez and Jamie Skeen lead the team, but the bench contributes a remarkable amount to each win.
Another factor is the aforementioned three-point shooting. In the 71-61 win over Kansas, the Rams put up 27 points in threes on 9-for-17 shooting. This, combined with their pressure defense, resulted in VCU leading at halftime 41-27. Despite making some runs late in the game, Kansas had no real answers to the consistent big plays and perimeter shooting coming from VCU.
It should also be noted that this year's tournament field was weaker than expected overall, and there was no real powerhouse in the NCAA. The weakened state of the typical elite teams has allowed programs like Butler and VCU to make their incredible runs. VCU received one of the last invitations to the tournament, and did not even come out the winner of their own conference.
But it should also be argued that the weakness of the powerhouse teams is due more to the relationship between the NBA and NCAA than to any other reason. The best high school basketball players tend to go to an elite basketball school and then not stick around in the NCAA for long. With these strong mid-major teams, while few of the players are NBA caliber, they play enough to develop a strong chemistry.
If either Butler or VCU wins the tournament this year, no one should really be surprised. And the weakness in the powerhouse schools has made for a much more exciting, unpredictable tournament. This year's championship game is guaranteed to be between a major and a mid-major, and neither of the two major teams is expected to blow out the mid-major. This year's title is still up for grabs.