March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 8 VCU

Tyler Byrum
NBC Sports Washington

March Madness 2019: What you need to know about No. 8 VCU originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

Those famed VCU Rams are back in the NCAA Tournament for 2019.

Before missing the big dance last season there VCU had received seven straight tournament bids. Now they begin a new streak under second-year head coach Mike Rhoades. 

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Rhoades has brought havoc back to the Rams. VCU is ranked seventh in defensive efficiency according to KenPom. They allow only 88 points per 100 possessions. 

He's done it with a balanced and deep roster that he is not afraid to turn to at any moment. Nine players average 14 minutes or more this season. No one plays more than 28. Four guys bring home at least 10 points a game and no one shooting below 33 percent from the field. Simply, they are just a well-rounded team.

Returning back to their bread and butter, the Rams force opponents to turn over the rock over 16 times each night. It is the fourth best mark of NCAA Tournament teams. And while many Power 5 teams are picking up the pace offensively, not many of their potential opponents have seen that type of action. 

However, the heart and soul of their team, Marcus Evans, may not be 100 percent. He left the team's quarterfinal contest with a knee injury. Very alarming considering he's already injured both of his Achille tendons. Without Evans, there is probably not enough offense for them to survive. But with Evans, no one wants to mess with the Rams.

Lookng ahead to their opponent, they have to play 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall and the Central Florida Knights, another strong defensive team.

They tip-off their tournament run against UCF on Friday at 9:40 on CBS. If they win they have Duke on the horizon, who the Rams have beaten in the tournament before. 

Record: 

25-7 (16-2 Atlantic 10)

Seed:

No. 8, East (At-large bid)

First Round Opponent:

No. 9 UCF

Path to the Final Four:

No. 9 UCF, No. 1 Duke, No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 2 Michigan State

Top Players:

Marcus Evans (13.8 ppg, 3.2 apg - A-10 First Team)
De'Riante Jenkins (11.4 ppg, 34.7 3-point percentage - A-10 Third Team)
Marcus Santos-Silva (10.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg)

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