Shaka Smart knows how to get a team to perform.
Last season, the VCU Rams made an improbable run to the NCAA Final Four before losing to Butler (another team seemingly out of nowhere). This year the Rams should shock no one because they are a solid basketball team with a very scary component now on their side.
As for Wichita State, I’m on the bus. I might even be the bus driver because I will not let a team this good deter me from bracket glory this year. I’ve been burned year after year picking the heavyweights only to have them let me down time and time again.
A quick tale of the tape shows a VCU squad with three players averaging at least ten points per game (two of which adding five rebounds per) and five players with a steal a game and one more with two per. Defense like that goes a long way tournament time. If they can’t score on you it makes games a lot easier.
On the other side, Wichita State is throwing up the 19th most points in the country (77.1) and doing so behind fundamentals on offense. Placing in the top-25 in Free Throw percentage and top-30 in rebounds they are getting it done on both ends of the floor and capitalizing on their opportunities.
These teams aren’t without flaws of course. VCU has to generate more offense than it has because their defense is bailing them out primarily. Wichita State is the exact opposite needing to make stops on defense and force more turnovers to maximize the effort on the offensive side of the floor.
I like these teams in the tournament because they both have the makeup of teams that can wreak havoc on a bracket. I won’t be caught off guard this year. lets just hope they don’t let me down.
Others potential Cinderella’s to watch:
- Murray State
- Savannah State