Updating VCU’s At-large Chances

On Friday night, the Rams dominated Massachusetts and held serve in a must-win game for VCU’s at-large hopes. Later in the evening, Davidson strung together a shocking run to take the game to overtime, then prevailed in the extra frame. While the optimal scenario is for Will Wade’s group to win the next two games and clinch the automatic berth into the NCAA field, the next best scenario would have been to face the Bonnies and win in the semi-finals. This would have given VCU an extra top 50 win, giving them close to lock status.

Now that Davidson is the Rams’ Saturday opponent, a trip to the finals makes things much less clear. The Wildcats are sitting at 56 in the RPI, so VCU’s much-needed avenue to a third top 50 win wouldn’t come until Sunday. If VCU beats Davidson and then falls in the title game, the Rams would be 2-4 against the top 50 and 7-8 or 8-8 against the top 100.  As of this moment, I’d put at-large hopes right at 50-60%. A VCU win on Saturday elevates those odds to 60-70%, depending on what other teams do.

The good news is that fellow bubble team Tulsa was obliterated by Memphis on Friday, and while Michigan shocked Indiana, their resume still doesn’t look at-large worthy. The bottom line is this: there are about 15 teams fighting for 9 spots, and ALL of them have major blemishes. While VCU’s quality out of conference and top 50 wins are few and far between, other areas look solid.

As discussed earlier, VCU has a .500 record against the top 100, and that is something that most bubble teams cannot say. Additionally, VCU is 4-2 in top 100 road games this season and is 17-9 against the RPI top 200 with an out of conference strength of schedule in the 60’s. These numbers are far better than most other teams competing for at-large spots. (For example, Tulsa is 10-11 against the top 200, Michigan is 12-11, and Vanderbilt is 14-13.)

So yes, the Rams have a couple of pretty bad losses, but overall the resume isn’t as bad as some may think. At the end of the day, however, the easiest path is to win two more so that we can all relax on Sunday evening.

Matt has been reporting on VCU sports for Ram Nation since 2007 with a focus on news, photos, and feature stories.