2011-12 Record: 0-21 (0-9 CAA)
2011-12 RPI: 304
Player to heckle:
Robert Nwankwo, Sr., F (11.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.6 bpg)

The skinny: As I watched Towson last season, I thought, this is definitely rock bottom. The Tigers were well on their way to a 4-26 record, including 19 straight to end the season. They were the first winless team in CAA play, ever. If Pat Kennedy’s career as a college basketball coach wasn’t over before the 2010-11 season, it certainly was afterwards. It’s as if he took a stack of resumes, poured lighter fluid on them, lit them on fire and then ran over the flaming pile with a dump truck.

It wouldn’t be fair to blame the totality of Towson’s struggles on Pat Kennedy. His seven years atop the program didn’t get the Tigers any closer to respectability, much the opposite, in fact, but Kennedy’s sins were just the final blow in two decades of bad decisions.

In order to fix the program, Towson had to blow it up, strip it down to the foundation, essentially start over. So that’s what they did. New coach, new roster, new athletic director, new arena on the way. But it had to get worse before it got better, and it has.

The Tigers, who returned one player from last year’s 4-26 debacle, are 0-21. Their losing streak has reached an NCAA Division I record 40 games. I don’t say this pile on. I take no joy in Towson’s struggles. They’re just the facts.

While today’s reality is bleak, the future looks promising. New Coach Pat Skerry has managed to put together a recruiting class many have hailed as the CAA’s best. The new arena, set to open in 2013, looks great. There are better days ahead for Towson.

This year’s squad has continued to play hard despite the losing streak. The Tigers rebound the ball reasonably well and have a legitimate center in senior Robert Nwankwo, who doesn’t get much attention due to the Tigers’ struggles. Junior College transfer Marcus Damas has range out to 20 feet and is athletic.

Towson’s on-court issues are many. The Tigers are shooting a dreadful, nearly inconceivable, 56 percent at the free throw line. They also average 18.7 turnovers per game, a statistic that will have guys like Briante Weber chomping at the bit.

This game is not a guarantee for VCU. Towson has played George Mason and Virginia tough. The Rams also have a big road game at Georgia State on Saturday. If VCU shows up focused, talent alone should win out, but if they’re looking ahead, watch out.

Fast fact: VCU is 16-1 all-time against Towson. The Rams’ lone loss in the series was a 59-57 defeat during the 2005-06 season at the Towson Center.