The Virginia Commonwealth Rams are hoping to "Shaka" the world again when they take on Brad Stevens' Butler Bulldogs tonight at 6:09pm.
The Rams walk into this game as slight underdogs to Butler, as they are the lower seed, had to play more games, and lack the Final Four experience (albeit slightly) that the Bulldogs have. Brad Stevens seems to have his team clicking on all cylinders right now and as a result, they have gone toe to toe with every opponent they have faced (despite a talent gap), and came out victorious.
Not that VCU doesn't have grounds to hold their chest high either, as they waltzed through the tournament defeating USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas to get to this point. Not bad for a "measly" CAA team.
Both teams come in with a great amount of confidence in their team's ability, and as it has been throughout this tournament, it will be all about execution.
The Rams bread and butter during this tournament has been their three point shot, as they have shot 45% from beyond the arc in their five games. That percentage would have led the nation if they held that percentage the entire season. The Rams also have Jamie Skeen and Bradford Burgess, who have proven to be forces inside the paint. Although they would like to win with the three ball, they know they have players inside to help them if their outside game isn't coming along.
VCU knows that Butler's two best players are Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack. They will need to do their best to shut down these two, as they have done major damage in this tournament, with Howard coming up huge late in games and Mack playing at a level that might make his the best point guard left in the tournament.
If they can execute their game plan and do with what got them there (three pointers, good defense), the Rams have a chance to stun the college basketball world once again and advance to the championship game.
Prediction: It wouldn't be surprising to see Butler come out and do it's best to take away VCU's outside shot. They will likely extend the defense to the perimeter, forcing the Rams to go inside to their bigs, where Butler has to believe that they have the advantage, with Matt Howard being such a force on the glass. If they do that, then it will be up to Joey Rodriguez to stay patient and find the open man inside, instead of forcing someone to take an outside shot. If Rodriguez can take what's given to him (players open in the paint), VCU can force Butler to help inside, setting up the Rams to set up better three point opportunities.