Virginia Commonwealth defeated a highly respected Wichita State team on Thursday, and now many are selecting VCU to have another Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament once again.
They have good reason to pick them to be the surprise team. Coach Shaka Smart seems to have this team at their very best when the pressure is on and it is time to compete on the biggest of stages, which the NCAA tournament seems to promote.
One of the biggest reasons for another likely run up the bracket is that they got a good portion of the roster back from last year's run. However, it was not the entire roster, which was why many thought that this was not the same team with the same upset potential.
Bradford Burgess is the biggest player to return for Smart. He led VCU against Wichita State with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists on Thursday, becoming that all-around player a Cinderella team needs this time of the year.
The guard-play of VCU is not bad, either, with Darius Theus, Troy Daniels and Rob Brandenberg all producing while on the court, especially against Wichita State. All three guards had at least nine points with limited turnovers.
However, what makes VCU dangerous every time they take the court is the fact that they have the ability to control the pace of the game. Once they achieve that, it gives them a great chance to stay in the game for the long haul. Credit Smart for that, as he has consistently given his team the opportunity to surprise opponents from the start of the game.
They have a great chance to repeat this season as a Cinderella team that will make a run, but it will take more of an effort than they had against Wichita State. Matching shot-for-shot with a team like Kentucky down the road will be a tough task, as that is not their game. But if they are able control the tempo of the game, while getting hot from beyond the arc, this team can play with anyone in the nation for the second year in a row.