Gritty Rams rally, but come up just short
The Rams headed into the half down 13, a deficit that ballooned to 18 early in the 2nd, but ground down the ODU lead to a single point as Bradford Burgess connected on a 3-pointer with 4:27 left to play.
After two ODU tip-ins, Jamie Skeen’s layup pulled the game within a manageable 3 points with 2:41, but VCU would hit only 3 of their remaining 7 shots, and ODU was able to ice the game at the free throw line.
Bradford Burgess lead the Rams with 19 points in the loss, and grabbed a team high 8 rebounds in a game VCU was badly beaten on the glass (34-21).
A stifling Monarch zone defense and foul trouble neutralized Jamie Skeen’s first half offensive production to just 2 points.
Skeen bounced bag big in the second however, scoring 16 of his 18 points en route to an All-Tournament Team selection.
Burgess joined Skeen on the All-Tournament squad, averaging 16.7 points in the three game run.
Skeen played at an elevated offensive level as well, posting a 21 point average in CAA postseason play.
The Rams came into the game with a respectable RPI rating of 49, but most likely needed the win to advance to the NCAA tournament.
That RPI number is likely to rise, even in the loss, and the Rams have made appearances as a “last 4 in” team in multiple brackets, most notably Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com who predicted last year’s complete field down to the final team.
VCU will need every star in the Universe to aline into the shape of Rodney the Ram for that scenario to play out however, and are most likely looking at an NIT bid.
In the meantime, root for every bubble team to bow out of their conference tournament early and to the lowest possible seed. Then stay tuned until Sunday when VCU’s actual postseason fate is revealed.
Go Rams, and a special thank you to the team and coaching staff for making VCU proud this weekend in one of the most underrated college basketball events in the country.