How VCU became a dominant team

Despite many questioning their inclusion in the Dance, the Rams have steamrolled the competition. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Earlier this month I wondered if, in terms of at-large selection, the single most important game of the college basketball season may have been the Virginia Commonwealth Rams' surprisingly decisive 79-63 win over George Mason in the CAA tournament semifinals. I now realize this is clearly incorrect. Before they made it that far, the Rams had to win in the quarterfinals -- and Shaka Smart's team very nearly lost. If not for VCU's 62-60 win over Drexel on March 5, we wouldn't be talking about this team now.

That's a pretty amazing thought now that we've seen what the Rams can do, up to and including dismantling a very good Purdue team by the score of 94-76. Could a team this good really have been sent to the NIT? You bet. The margin between the Sweet 16 and not even getting into the tournament can be very thin indeed.