Although I felt very comfortable with my picks 1-4, spots 5-9 (and possibly 5-13) are sort of shrug picks. As in, I think this team will finish here, but *shrug*, who really knows? There’s a ton of depth in the A-10 this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see teams like George Mason, Richmond or Rhode Island (to name just a few) shock some folks. I think three NCAA bids is a reasonable goal for the A-10 this year, but five is certainly attainable.
2012-13 Record: 27-9 (12-4 A-10)
Comments: Although there are still questions about who will replace point guard Darius Theus, this is Shaka Smart’s deepest, most talented group in five seasons at VCU. The Rams will likely open the season ranked in the top 25 (already No. 15 in the Coaches Poll) behind potential NBA draft pick Juvonte Reddic and 2012-13 breakout star Treveon Graham. Human cannonball Briante Weber spearheads the Rams’ chaos-inducing Havoc defense that has led the country in turnover percentage two straight seasons.
And, should I bring up guys like Rob Brandenberg (a rock), Melvin Johnson (a sizzle video waiting to happen), the addition of ACC-quality big man Terrance Shannon (impressed at Black & Gold Game) or the Rams’ influx of a talent-rich freshman class. VCU fans are pretty amped about the coming season, and deservedly so.
Although the Rams have been a nearly-consensus media pick to win the A-10, and were ranked 15th nationally in the USA Today Coaches Preseason Poll, it doesn’t appear that VCU will shy away from the high expectations.
“We’ve always had high expectations for ourselves within our program,” says VCU Coach Shaka Smart. “We want to be at a place where there are high expectations for us. That’s the way VCU is.”
2012-13 Record: 28-7 (13-3)
Comments: Jim Crews masterfully directed Saint Louis in 2012-13 following the death of coach Rick Majerus, and he’s got the horses to do it again this year. Bruising forward Dwayne Evans (14.0 ppg, 7.7) along with guards Mike McCall Jr. (9.3 ppg) and Jordair Jett (9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg) offer a balanced offensive attack to compliment the Billikens’ stingy defensive-minded approach.