Record: 28-6, 15-3
Coach: Shaka Smart (83-27, third season)
Conference: Colonial (automatic bid)
Last NCAA appearance: 2011 (Final Four)
Starters, Pos., Yr., Pts.
Darius Theus, G, Jr., 8.6
Troy Daniels, G, Jr. ,10.0
Bradford Burgess, G, Sr., 13.3
Juvonte Reddic, F, So., 10.6
D.J. Haley, C, So., 3.2
Critical juncture: The Rams split their first six games, all but one away from home. They followed it up with six straight double-digit routs before Christmas (including a 73-51 thrashing of Richmond) and kept rolling from there.
Reason for optimism: Pick one of many. Darius Theus is a more-than-capable point guard. Briante Weber is exceptional at disrupting defenses. Troy Daniels is an efficient outside shooter. Bradford Burgess is a mainstay. And after last year’s Final Four run, there’s probably some belief it could happen again.
Reason for pessimism: Defensive rebounding. If there’s a nit to pick with the Rams, it is a defensive-rebounding percentage that ranked ninth in the CAA. Of course, VCU helps offset that by easily leading the conference in steals and turnover margin. Make no mistake: The Rams are dangerous.
Wild card:Daniels. The junior helped fill out the rotation his first two seasons, started the opening two games this year but generally was a reserve for most of the year. He’s started the past 15 games, reaching double figures in 10 and hit a 3-pointer in all but one. If he gets hot, VCU’s tough to stop