Grading A10 Non-Conference Performances: VCU
The VCU (8-5) closed out the non-conference season Wednesday night with a win over the North Florida Ospreys in strong fashion. The Rams, under the new leadership of head coach Will Wade, faced a fairly difficult non-conference schedule but were unable to snag a win over a top 85 team in the KenPom rankings. Let’s examine the ups and downs of VCU’s non-conference play.
According to the KenPom rankings, the highest ranked win VCU captured was against Old Dominion, who the Rams beat 76-67 in late November. The Monarchs, who are ranked as the 90th best team in the nation, are not much to be impressed by and haven’t shown much potential this season other than a win over Rhode Island. VCU’s second best win likely came over North Florida, who beat Illinois earlier this season. Needless to say, the Rams have yet to grab a signature win, and this could hurt their resume, especially given their opportunities for big wins.
Considering that VCU played a difficult non-conference schedule, their five losses are not as bad as their seem. The Rams lost games to #5 Duke and #23 Cincinnati, while also dropping a pair to Florida State (now 10-2) and Wisconsin (a bubble NCAA tourney team). That leaves their December 16th loss to Georgia Tech the worst on their resume.
All things considered, that’s not awful. In VCU’s case, the quantity of losses is currently outweighing the quality of games dropped. This discrepancy is evidenced by the KenPom rankings. Currently, VCU is listed at 56th in the nation, the third highest for a five-loss team behind Wichita State and Wisconsin. As for whether the Selection Committee will take that into account remains to be seen.
From the outside, this may seem a bit generous. However, VCU doesn’t have a genuine bad loss of their resume. Sure, they would have loved to have won that game against Wisconsin on a neutral court, but at home the Rams have remained strong. It will take a very strong conference season, but VCU still has an outside shot of going dancing come March.