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VCU is clear Atlantic 10 favorite

Shaka Smart and the Rams are looking to rebound from an NCAA round of 64 exit. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

VCU Rams

2013-14: 26-9 (12-4 A-10)
In-conference offense: 1.04 points per possession (seventh)
In-conference defense: 0.92 points allowed per possession (first)

You've heard the refrain before. VCU is deeper than ever. Filled with versatile athletes. Perfectly suited to maximize Shaka Smart's signature "Havoc" system. A threat to build on its one-hit wonder rep by reaching a second Final Four.

Last season, that optimism evaporated when the fifth-seeded Rams blew their NCAA tourney opener against Stephen F. Austin, allowing a game-tying four-point play with 3.6 seconds left before losing in overtime. The season before, Michigan blitzed the Rams in the round of 32. But this season's version has the ability to succeed where those squads failed, if it can develop as Smart hopes.

"This is a group that has a lot of promise," Smart said, "but it's a group that still has a lot of things to figure out in terms of roles, leadership and accountability."