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Shaka-ing Rams Run to Final Four


VCU Rams

2010-11 Record: 28–11 (11–6 Colonial)
Head Coach: Shaka Smart (1st Final Four)

Projected Starters: G – Joey Rodriguez (10.6 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 spg), G – Brandon Rozzell (11.8 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.4 spg), G – Ed Nixon (7.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.2 spg), G/F – Bradford Burgess (14.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.1 spg), F/C – Jamie Skeen (15.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg)

Will win the national title if… Joey Rodriguez continues to push the pace and Jamie Skeen — a transfer from Wake Forest — keeps owning the paint. “Havoc Ball” has worked thus far and the Rams must maintain their fullcourt pressure defense and uptempo offense. Also, draining 12-of-25 from 3-point range — as VCU did against Kansas — would be a huge help.

Will lose to Butler on Saturday if… coach Shaka Smart’s team isn’t ready for the big stage in Houston. After making it into the Big Dance as a debatable “First Four” at-large bid, the Rams are in the Final Four. The team on the other side of the floor, Butler, has been there and done that. Smart must make sure “havoc” doesn’t turn into “panic” if VCU gets off to a slow start.

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Southwest Region

Best Team: VCU
Biggest Upset: VCU over Kansas
Most Surprising Team: VCU
Most Disappointing Team: Notre Dame

Best Player:Joey Rodriguez, VCU. Not everything that J-Rod does shows up in the box score, but the energetic play of the Rams’ point guard has powered VCU to its first ever Final Four.

Honorable Mention: Marcus Morris, Kansas; Markieff Morris, Kansas; Jamie Skeen, VCU; Bradford Burgess, VCU; Kevin Anderson, Richmond; Demonte Harper, Morehead State

Best Game:VCU 72, Florida State 71 (ot), Sweet 16 — The Rams’ closest call of their unbelievable Final Four run came against the Seminoles. VCU pulled out the win thanks to Bradley Burgess’ go-ahead layup and Rob Brandenberg’s blocked shot at the buzzer.

Most Disappointing Game:Florida State 71, Notre Dame 57 Second Round — The Fighting Irish were fight-less against the Seminoles, who led by as much as 23 points during an unexpectedly lopsided second round rout.