#5 VCU (26-8) vs. #12 Akron (26-6) has the upset seekers drooling.
VCU coach Shaka Smart made a name for himself in the NCAA Tournament. Can he guide VCU to another Final Four?
Who do you think will win? We help you fill out your bracket.
The Virginia Commonwealth Rams are only two seasons removed from their improbable Final Four appearance. They’ve been able to recruit better talent and this year’s team is more balanced than their 2011 squad. They still rely on their perimeter shooting, but can go inside to forward Juvonte Reddic for high-percentage shots.
VCU played an advantageous non-conference schedule. They defeated Memphis, Wichita State and Belmont…but, lost to Duke and Missouri on neutral courts.
The Akron Zips swept the MAC regular season and conference tournament. It was a down year for the conference, as they are the only representative in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Akron’s resumé is far from stellar. They only defeated one team in the tournament field…they beat Middle Tennessee in overtime at home.
The Zips did perform great in conference play. They won a majority of their conference games by double-digits, but did suffer a bad loss to Buffalo. Their front-court duo of Zeke Marshall and Demetrius Treadwell demand attention. Marshall is fourth in the nation in blocks with 3.7 per game.
Tournament experience isn’t a stat that can be picked apart. Shaka Smart knows how to coach a team in the tournament. It’s a skill you have to learn on the job. He will have his team prepared and VCU will avoid an upset.
Don’t be surprised if VCU also defeats the winner of the Michigan/South Dakota State game. The Rams are that talented.
Prediction: #5 Virginia Commonwealth Rams
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