Last night happened. That really happened and somehow, someway, we were on the right side of one of the craziest endings to a basketball game I’ve ever seen. Scratch that, that was THE craziest ending I’ve ever seen, but in the end all it equals is one win. So what does that mean?
Well, here’s why it was a huge one…
A-10 CONFERENCE RACE
Last night’s win moved VCU to 8-2 in A-10 play. The Rams are one of two A-10 teams with just two losses, joining Dayton in that distinction. There are two three-loss teams behind them, Richmond (8-3) and Rhode Island (7-3). That currently makes up your top-four in the A-10. If VCU can remain in that top-four they will get a Thursday night bye in this year’s A-10 tournament, meaning a path to an A-10 title comes via three games instead of four.
The two teams closest to the top-four are La Salle and St. Bonaventure, both at 6-4. That means VCU is two games ahead of that group based off record, but in reality, those two schools would need to win three more games than VCU the rest of the way to pass the Rams in the final standings, as VCU now owns head-to-head tie-breakers over both (because VCU beat both of them in the only regular season games they will play this year).
That’s huge with eight games remaining.
NCAA TOURNAMENT HOPES
As of this posting, VCU currently sits at No.30 in the RPI (that can change by the time I finish this post however), a national rankings system used by the NCAA tournament selection committee to help decide who gets in this year’s field. RPIWizard.com currently predicts VCU to finish inside/around the top-30 with a predicted RPI of 29.5. Hovering anywhere near that, but especially breaking into the top-30, would most likely guarantee a tournament bid for the Rams. VCU’s “easiest path” to an NCAA tournament bid is likely to simply win their remaining homes games, pick up one road win (at GW would work), then the Rams could lose their first A-10 tourney game and still likely finish in the top-33 of the RPI. Is that enough to get them in? I’m not so sure. So I think VCU’s minimal path would be to win all their remaining home games, pick up one road win and win one A-10 tournament game. That would likely do it. It won’t be a walk in the park, but it’s certainly favorable to the CAA tournament days of usually “win or go home”.
Side note: VCU needs strong — but not too strong — finishes from St. Bonaventure and Richmond. The Bonnies (101) and Spiders (103) are currently sitting just outside of the RPI top-100. The Rams need both to find their way inside that top-100 but don’t want either effecting their A-10 tournament seeding. St. Bonaventure has a very favorable schedule going forward but after losses to the likes of Canisius and Little Rock, it’s hard to imagine them NOT slipping up somewhere. Richmond has a fairly manageable schedule as well but will play four of their final seven A-10 games on the road. Their home contests come against VCU and Davidson, two teams capable of beating the Spiders at the Robins Center.