What to expect: VCU faces Indiana

Saturday night VCU will face #4 Indiana in the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament. The winner will move onto the Sweet Sixteen and play the winner of #8 Iowa State vs. #1 Kentucky.

  • What: #12 VCU Rams (29-6, 15-3) vs. #4 Indiana Hoosiers (26-8, 11-7)
  • Where: Portland, Oregon – Rose Garden
  • When: Saturday, March 17th at 7:10pm (EST)
  • Watch: TBS

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Where to Watch

Most every place that has a TV will more than likely have the game on, but here are a few to get you started.

1501 W Main St
The Continental Westhampton
5704 Grove Avenue
Penny Lane
421 East Franklin Street
2905 Patterson Avenue

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The Rundown

On Thursday night, #12 VCU upset #5 Wichita State in a game where VCU did not look like themselves. Instead of forcing turnovers, the Rams beat the Shockers with half court defense and clutch shooting. Saturday night VCU will face #4 Indiana in the 3rd round of the NCAA tournament. The winner will move onto the Sweet Sixteen and play the winner of #8 Iowa State vs. #1 Kentucky.

The Team

In 2008, head coach Tom Crean inherited a program in shambles. Former coach Kelvin Sampson left Crean with a program under three years of probation, minus one scholarship, with limited recruiting days, and 19 F’s among the 14 student-athletes. When Crean’s first team finally took the court that fall, he returned only two walk-ons from the Sampson era that had scored a combined 36 points in their Indiana careers.

After winning a combined 28 games in his first three seasons, Crean’s 2011-2012 Hoosiers are the most improved team in America, boasting a 26-8 record including an 11-7 record in the extremely talented Big Ten. More impressively, the Hoosiers boast wins over #1 Kentucky, #2 Ohio State, and #5 Michigan State. Picked by many in the preseason to be a low at-large selection to the NCAA tournament or a high NIT team, Indiana, like VCU, has defied all expectations this season.

While freshman Cody Zeller has transformed this team by adding the Hoosiers first true post presence since current Charlotte Bobcat DJ White, Crean’s player development has been impressive. He took lower ranked recruits, Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo, and developed them into two of the Hoosiers best defenders. In their sophomore season “Sheeladipo” have improved the Hoosiers midrange game and offered Crean depth that no one anticipated.

While Wichita State’s offense had plenty of reasons to be feared, Indiana’s ability to score is on an entirely different level. The Hooisers are the best 3-point shooting team in the tournament, connecting on an incredible 43.6% of attempts. They boast six players that have higher 3-point shooting percentages than VCU’s long range specialist Troy Daniels.

During the Big Ten tournament, the Hoosiers lone Senior starter Verdell Jones III tore his ACL on an awkward step. Jones was a key ball handler and his assist on Christian Watford’s game winning shot over Kentucky is almost impossible to avoid seeing on TV multiple times daily. Freshman Remy Abell has seen his minutes drastically increase since the injury. The Rams key to success is going to be forcing turnovers to compensate for the Hoosiers incredible efficiency.

The challenge for VCU is going to be Indiana’s incredible ability to run in transition. VCU’s HAVOC defense will undoubtedly be better off of made baskets, so every shot the Rams hit, the more turnovers they will force. This game will likely turn into a track meet between two extremely athletic teams.

This video highlights just how prolific Indiana’s offense can be even against a #1 team like Kentucky.

Both of these videos also highlight two of the best fan celebrations of the past year. Only one team will celebrate on Saturday but both programs are poised to continue their success for seasons to come.

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The Star

Mr. Indiana Basketball. McDonalds All-American. Co Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
The younger brother of Luke (ND) and Tyler Zeller (UNC), Freshman Cody Zeller leads the Hoosiers with 15.5PPG and 6.4RPG. He is one of the quickest big men in the country and while his frame isn’t extremely wide, his foot work and post moves are going give the Rams trouble.

Exactly 365 days ago Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson handled VCU in the post for 25 points and 14 rebounds in the 3rd round of the tournament. The Rams still beat #3 Purdue by 18 points as several IU fans cheered along in Chicago. The Rams will constantly rotate sophomore Juvonte Reddic, sophomore DJ Haley, and walk-on David Hinton on Cody Zeller in the hopes of wearing him out, but Zeller will likely still score on VCU.

The Rams frontcourt typically consists of 6’-9” Juvonte Reddic and 6’-6” Bradford Burgess, so 6’-9” Christian Watford is the scarier matchup. Zeller can have an incredible game, but if Watford disappears on offense like he has occasionally done, the Rams will have a much greater chance of winning.

The Prediction

Ken Pomeroy statistically picks Indiana to win 74-67 with a 74% chance of victory.

Given VCU’s history in the postseason, it just doesn’t make sense to guess anymore. According to ESPN, “VCU now has 7 wins as an 11 seed or worse since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. That is the most such wins of any team in that span, one more than Richmond.”

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Wichita State’s Profile

  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Enrollment: 109,445 (University-wide)
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • All time series: Indiana Leads 1-0
  • Last meeting:Indiana won 85-68 in 1988

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Aaron Williams

Aaron Williams loves music, basketball (follow @rvaramnews!), family, learning, and barbecue sauce.

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