This is it, the final week of Atlantic 10 regular season action and things have gotten real in Ram land.
Due to the black and gold’s back-to-back losses to Richmond and Dayton, VCU has gone from conference title contender to fighting for an A-10 tournament first round bye with crosstown rival Richmond, adding to the drama.
Adversity has hit this year’s team with 11 rounds of body blows but fight is far from over. Round 12 as far as the regular season is concerned is here and VCU will need to come out swinging if they want to avoid a Thursday afternoon game in Brooklyn.
How to win an A-10 regular season title
This one is probably a long-shot at this point but I’ll break it down anyway. For starters, VCU would need to win their next two games, moving the Rams to 13-5 on the season. Doing so would give them a tie-breaker over Davidson no matter what the Wildcats do in their final game due to two wins over the Cats this season. From that point on VCU would “simply” need to finish in either a three-way or four-way tie for first with Dayton, Rhody and Davidson. If the Rams boast two wins over the Wildcats (they already have one) plus a win over Rhode Island (check), that would give VCU a 3-1 record against that group, which would be the best record among the tied group, giving VCU the title. If VCU ends up tied with just Dayton and Rhody the Rams would need Rhode Island to be one of Dayton’s final losses, giving each team a 1-1 record against each other, but giving VCU the title due to what would be a 2-0 record against the Davidson Wildcats, who defeated both Dayton and Rhode Island in their only games with the two. Like I said, winning a regular season title is probably a long-shot. Not impossible, but certainly difficult at this point.
How to avoid a Thursday game in Brooklyn
Quick fact: No Colonial Athletic Association team ever won a CAA tournament with having to play an extra conference tournament game in March, including VCU. Now I have no idea how the A-10 has done with that, but I do know if it’s impossible to do it in the CAA, it can’t be much easier now that we’re in a much more difficult Atlantic 10 conference. For this very reason, VCU needs to either handle their business this week or get a little help from a northern friend. If VCU wins both games this week they can finish no worse than second place in the final A-10 regular season standings. With that I get to drive to Brooklyn at my leisure knowing any Thursday game I make is just for fun. However, if the Rams were to lose either of their games this week — and make no mistake, VCU will be the underdog Thursday night at Davidson against a hot Wildcats team that has hammered teams at Belk Arena all season — VCU would need the Minutemen of UMass to win their senior night contest against the Richmond Spiders, then the Rams would have to simply beat George Mason to finish no worse than fourth in the regular season standings. Not ideal, but much more appealing than knowing VCU’s final spot would be taken by crosstown rival Richmond to add salt to to the wound of a season sweep. Either way, we’re all Minutemen this week. Go UMass!
So there you have it. To quote our friends Robby and Chris K, that’s exactly what is at steak in this week’s matchups.
VCU has been inked (penciled?) in as a lock to make this year’s NCAA tournament by basically every national analyst due to the Rams’ strong start to the season that included the nation’s top-ranked OOC schedule. But the Rams seed line has continued to fall with every added loss. VCU has gone from potential 3-seed to currently a seven by ESPN and a No.8 by CBS Bracketologist, Jerry Palm, who had VCU in the 2011 tournament field when virtually no one else did. More losses will only continue that downward trend, or god forbid, put VCU squarely on the bubble for the first time since 2011 when the Rams made their magical journey through the tournament field to VCU’s first ever Final 4.