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We’re talking Oklahoma. On Sunday, VCU will attempt to reach the Sweet 16 for the second time.


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Anthony Grant led VCU to a 76-25 record and two NCAA Tournament bids from 2006-09. He returns to the Siegel Center for the first time with Alabama Saturday.

RICHMOND, Va. – The tales of Anthony Grant’s legendary focus are not born from whimsical bouts of mythology. It’s real. With blinders of coaching affixed to his temples, a fiery motivator smolders beneath a Rushmoresque stoic façade. What you see is what you get.

The only game in Grant’s day planner is the next one. He’s famously resistant to any effort to discuss a game other than the next one on his team’s schedule, not to local media and national pundits, not on his own coaches radio show, not to anyone. It’s like coaching in a pre-Christopher Columbus world. Ships that sail around the next game on the schedule immediately fall off the face of the earth and into an abyss. Okay, maybe a little mythology.

His approach to the game at hand is similarly singular, free of distraction and emotional attachment, other than the desire to win the game.



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VCU fans rush the floor after the Rams upset 17th-ranked Oklahoma at the Siegel Center in 2009.

VCU fans rush the floor after the Rams upset 17th-ranked Oklahoma at the Siegel Center in 2009.

RICHMOND, Va. – When VCU hosts Alabama Saturday at the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center, the game will officially fall into a category of events rarer than Anthony Grant smiles during press conferences.

It will be just the 10th time the Rams will have hosted a school that is a current member of a BCS Conference (Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC, Big East, ACC, Big 12) since the Siegel Center opened in 1999. But even that number is a bit misleading. At the time of those games, two schools weren’t yet members of those power conferences. That means just seven out of VCU’s 194 games in the Siegel Center have been against schools operating under BCS banner.

It’s not for a lack of trying, Shaka Smart says.

“We try to schedule these games. Every once and a while, we’re successful,” he said. “Typically, people don’t want to come here, and I think that’s a testament to the fans here and the success the program has had over the past several years since 1999 that the Siegel Center has been open, and other teams know that.”

The Rams are 166-28 all-time at the Siegel Center, a winning percentage of .856. VCU is 3-1 at home this season. Schools from BCS Conferences are often wary of playing road games at schools from less prominent leagues, especially ones like VCU, who are tough to beat at home. VCU’s frantic style of play, compounded by the often deafening roar of 7,500-plus fans, can make other schools skittish about scheduling the Rams at “The Stu”.

“Those BCS schools aren’t just playing 13, 14 guys, they’re actually playing thousands of people. They’re coming to the Siegel Center. They have to play against us and the crowd,” said VCU senior Troy Daniels.

VCU's pressure defense proved too much for Big East member South Florida last season.

VCU’s pressure defense proved too much for Big East member South Florida last season.

Many BCS schools view the games as no-win situations because they’ll be expected to win, and if they don’t, they’ll face additional scrutiny.

The last BCS school to visit the Verizon Wireless Arena was South Florida last season, a game VCU won 69-46. Even when VCU has been successful in luring a BCS school to Richmond, it has rarely been a marquee name (see: South Florida). Saturday’s game with Alabama is part of a clause in Grant’s VCU contract that guaranteed the school a home-and-home series if the coach accepted another job. Grant left VCU for Alabama in 2009, and the two schools met last season in Tuscaloosa, Ala. with the Crimson Tide earning a 72-64 win.

VCU also received a home-and-home series with Oklahoma after Jeff Capel accepted that job. In 2009, the Sooners visited the Siegel Center as the 17th-ranked team in the country and left with an 82-69 loss. To date, it is the only time the Rams have hosted a ranked opponent at the Siegel Center.

Overall, the Rams are 7-2 in games at the Siegel Center against schools currently residing in a BCS Conference, including 5-2 against schools that were BCS-affiliated at the time of the contest.  So, while VCU’s opportunities have been limited, the Rams have often made the best of them. They’ll hope to do the same Saturday against Alabama. The Crimson Tide will likely be a top 100 RPI team all season, so a win would be a nice addition to VCU’s NCAA Tournament resume.

Here are VCU’s previous meetings with BCS schools at the Siegel Center:

1-*Louisville, W, 79-74 (11/19/99)
2-Colorado, W, 82-78 OT (11/28/99)
3-Mississippi, L, 84-88 OT (11/25/00)
4-Texas A&M, W, 107-106 2OT (12/2/00)
5-Pittsburgh, W, 76-73 OT (12/17/00)
6-*TCU, W, 91-78 (12/21/02)
7-Mississippi, L, 62-63 (12/29/04)
8-#17 Oklahoma, W, 82-69 (11/21/09)
9-South Florida, W, 69-46 (11/30/11)

* – Louisville was a member of Conference USA in 1999, as was TCU in 2002.

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