2014 VCU Rams Predictions and NCAA Basketball Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 10/31/2014
While VCU is technically still a mid-major, the Rams are a dominant force in college basketball on a perennial basis. Shaka Smart has been the hottest coaching commodity around in the last few offseasons, but he continues to stay true to VCU. In Smart's five years with the program, VCU is 137-46. They are one of only three programs to win at least 26 games in five straight seasons.
Some wondered if the move to the Atlantic 10 would slow down or even derail VCU's growth. There's no doubt the A-10 is a big bump up from the Colonial Athletic Association, but VCU has made the transition more smoothly than almost anyone could have predicted. Smart said in the offseason, "For us the standard has continued to be raised." Smart's theory is if you aren't getting better, you are headed in the other direction. VCU was upset in their first game (the second round) of the NCAA Tournament last year by Stephen F. Austin. A loss so early by a team that has been so successful in March was definitely a surprise. The Rams appear set for another strong season. Let's take a closer look at this team.
2014 VCU Key Losses and Additions
The huge loss from last year's team is power forward Juvonte Reddic. While Reddic was often criticized by VCU fans for a perceived lack of effort at times, he had some very impressive numbers in his career at VCU. Reddic finished in the Top 20 in school history in scoring. He also finished in the Top 10 in rebounds, steals, and blocks. He finished his career with 28 double-doubles. His versatility in the blocks will be missed. Rob Brandenburg wasn't the most talented player on the floor, but he was a smart player who made wise plays in crunch time. Coach Smart trusted him, and Brandenburg's ability to get to the hoop was a big plus for getting others open on the perimeter.
Terry Larrier is the headliner for this year's recruiting class. Larrier is a 6-foot-8 forward who was the No. 39-ranked overall recruit in the nation. Smart believes that Larrier has the ability to play a bunch of positions, and he appears to be a guy who wants to work hard. Michael Gilmore is the nephew of former NBA star Artis Gilmore. He is a stretch four who was highly recruited by a bunch of big schools. Gilmore's basketball instinct has been widely praised. Justin Tillman is a Reddic-type player in the post. The coaching staff is excited about this freshman's effort and ability to crash the boards. Jonathan Williams is the perfect point guard for VCU. Williams is ultra-quick, and his unselfishness and leadership will be great for this team.
2014 VCU Backcourt
Briante Weber is the starting point guard for the Rams, and his passing ability and quickness make him a great fit. Weber has led the nation in steal percentage in all three years he has been at VCU. Opposing point guards have a rough day at the office when Weber is guarding them. Weber will miss the season opener against Tennessee after allegedly stealing an iPhone. Melvin Johnson will start at shooting guard. The team hopes to see Johnson become a more consistent long-range shooter this year. He showed flashes of brilliance last year. He knocked down eight three-pointers in the team's win over Virginia Tech. Jordan Burgess had an up-and-down freshman season, but the team has high expectations for him this year. Larrier is VCU's best-ever recruit, and I expect him to see time on the perimeter for the Rams in his freshman season. This is a deep backcourt with a lot of guys who fit perfectly into the Rams style of play.
2014 VCU Frontcourt
Treveon Graham was named the Atlantic 10 Preseason Player of the Year. Graham worked really hard in the offseason. In fact, he was one of only three players to go to three college all-star camps this summer -- the Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, and LeBron James camps. Graham won the one-on-one competition at the Paul camp. Expect him to come into the season with lots more confidence, and that's a dangerous thing for opponents. Graham can bang down low, but he can also hit bombs from long range (he made 58 last year). Smart wants him to be a more vocal leader this season. Mo Alie-Cox will start at the other frontcourt spot. VCU doesn't have a center. The Rams play with three guards and two power forwards, since that suits the system better. Cox has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, and he has been a real presence on the defensive end. He needs to improve offensively. Jarred Guest will get some minutes in the frontcourt, and Gilmore and Tillman will be in the rotation as well.
2014 VCU Rams Futures Odds
VCU might be a small school, but the books do respect them because of their recent success. The Rams are listed at +4,500 to win the NCAA Championshipat Sportsbook.ag. BetOnline lists VCU at +5,000 to cut down the nets this year.
2014 VCU Rams Predictions and NCAA Basketball Picks
VCU has been doing all the damage in March with teams that aren't as talented as the ones they will have in the next few years. Smart's ability to start getting top recruits has to concern the rest of the teams in the A-10. VCU will likely reach at least 26 wins again this year. This team is a little bit young to make a really deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but they should win a game or two. Watch out for this team in a year or two!
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