I have a weird relationship with VCU. It’s mostly bad. First, I rooted for two teams over the course of my life: Kansas and Wichita State. As you probably know already, VCU beat Kansas in the 2011 tournament to make it to the Final Four. I threw our remote that day. What you probably don’t know is that Wichita State was a 5 seed the next year paired with the 12 seeded Rams in the first round. I picked them to go to the Final Four that year. I thought the country would learn the name Toure’ Murray as he carried the team on his shoulders. I watched Garret Stutz’s potential game-tying three rim out at a sports bar in Omaha. I yelled a curse word that day. So now the third of my three favorite teams gets to play VCU in a tournament setting, so this can only go well.
Also, you’ll probably hear this from every other Marquette fan on Twitter, but this game is insanely important to win. Not only would a loss likely be considered a bad loss come tournament selection time, but it also means their final two games are California and Chaminade/LSU (all terrible teams) instead of Wichita State and Notre Dame/Michigan (all good teams). You may think that 2-1 is better than 1-2 in this tournament, but it could cost them up to 75 spots in Non Conference Strength of Schedule rankings, which the selection committee does not look at lightly. Anyway, let’s learn about the team that shouldn’t have even made the tournament in 2011.
Name: Virginia Commonwealth University.
What the hell is a commonwealth, anyway? It’s just a fun way to refer to your state, considering that it’s created for the “common wealth” for its residents. Fun trivia, can you name all the commonwealths in the United States? First one to tweet them at me without looking gets a prize, but I probably won’t believe that you didn’t look it up.
So what’s the difference between University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University? You got me. All I know is that VCU was formed in the 1960s as a merger of the Medical College of Virginia and the Richmond Professional Institute, and thus, its history dates back to 1838. Meanwhile, UVa was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson.
Location: Richmond, Virginia. Also home of the San Fransisco AA team Richmond Flying Squirrels. I went to a game when I lived outside there for a summer. Their catchphrase is Go Nuts.
Motto (This isn’t normally a section but I need to put this here): Make it real. What a terrible motto. It’s like they’re trying to appeal to 8 year olds in 2002.
Enrollment: 31,242, with 24,000 undergraduate students.
Conference: Atlantic 10. Remember that one time St Bonaventure won the A-10 tournament? That team was great.
Mascot: Rodney the Ram. I’m a big fan of alliterating the name of your mascot.
2016-2017 Season: They finished 26-9, ending their season in a first round loss to Saint Mary’s. Tangent: Schools named Saint Mary’s are weird to me. Mary is technically a saint. She has a feast day and is the patron saint of all humanity (I love that they didn’t specify it for her at all), but under the umbrella of everything that Catholics refer to her as, saint is hardly ever mentioned. So why name your school after that hardly mentioned title? I had to look up if she was a saint just to make sure she was one. Alright tangent over.
Final 2016-17 KenPom Ranking: #48
How are they doing so far? They beat Grambling State and North Florida and lost to Virginia, a team everyone on the AE staff enjoys watching.
Current KenPom Ranking: #91
Head Coach: I had Shaka Smart typed out. He’ll always be the coach there, even though it’s now former Rice head coach Mike Rhodes, not like anyone remembers him from Rice or anything. Turns out some guy named Will Wade coached there in between Shaka and Mike, but he’s at LSU now. I would coach there too if I could snag one of their glorious golf polos.
Hey, that reminds me, didn’t Marquette almost hire Shaka Smart away from VCU instead of Steve Wojciechowski? Well, depending on who you ask, Marquette did hire Shaka Smart, which is the topic of the single stupidest day in Marquette basketball history.
Key Losses: JeQuan Lewis, Jordan Burgess, Doug Brooks, Samir Doughty (transferred to Auburn) and Mo Allie-Cox, who I’m pretty sure was just Jae Crowder without the three point shot and more turnovers.
Key Returners: Jonathan Williams and Justin Tillman seem important. That seems like about it, though.
All Time Series: Marquette played them in ‘86 and ‘87. MU lost both times.
Fun Fact: The 2011 VCU Final Four team lost to the following teams (KenPom rankings in parentheses):
-At South Florida (129)
-At Georgia State (217)
-At Northeastern (194)
-At James Madison (106). James Madison has the worst court design in history, so knock them down a few pegs for that.
They did win at Wichita State (27) and against George Mason (24), but that’s it. They should have been a solid 2 seed in the NIT. There’s your fun fact.
Famous Alumni: Remember when Brandon Inge was in the Home Run Derby in 2009? He hit 0 home runs in the second funniest Home Run Derby performance in history. Anyway he went to VCU. So did Jay Pharoah. And Sam Beam, aka Iron and Wine. Also Larry Sanders, the old Milwaukee Bucks player. Honestly, that’s about it.
Okay, okay, also Patch Adams, the funny time doctor guy; Stephen Furst, best known for playing Flounder in Animal House; 1980 Nobel Prize winner Baruj Benacerraf; Christopher Poole, the founder of 4chan; Saul Krugman, who discovered a vaccine for hepatitis B; several members of the bands GWAR and Lamb of God; and comic book artist Mike Wieringo;
Prediction: Marquette pulls it of 81-69 and Wojo goes 3 minutes before his Hawaiian shirt gets blood on it.