In today's match up versus the Butler Bulldogs, coach Shaka Smart knows he is going to have his hands full, despite his team knocking off some of the best teams in the tournament so far.
Smart will be countered by Brad Stevens, another young coach who has already lead his team to the national championship game last year. Stevens' Bulldogs have been all about one thing in this tournament so far: execution.
Yes, the Bulldogs do have two stars in point guard Shelvin Mack and forward Matt Howard, but they also have role players like Andrew Smith, Ronald Nored and Khyle Marshall, among others. They all do a great job of stepping in and simply doing their jobs and not doing more than coach Stevens is asking them to do.
With the role players doing their job on both ends of the floor when needed, it paves the way for Mack and Howard to deliver in the most critical of situations.
Howard has scored the game winning points in each of Butler's first two tournament wins: a buzzer beater lay up against ODU, and two huge free throws against Pittsburgh near the end of regulation.
Mack has been probably the best point guard in this tournament. He has averaged 21 points a game the four tournament games and was named the Southeast regions most outstanding player. He has shown at times that he can be the best player on the court during any given stretch of a game with his ability to score and get his teammates involved. It will certainly be an interesting match up between he and VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez.
VCU knows that if they are to beat Butler, they will have to beat them at their own game and out execute them on both ends of the floor. Butler will do everything they can on defense to take away the outside shot, VCU's bread and butter, and Rodriguez and company will have to either feed forward Jamie Skeen inside or do a great job of penetrating and then kicking back out to one of their shooters.
If they can do that, in addition to locking down Mack and Howard, VCU could make history once again.