Sunday, March 11, 2007

VCU and Duke?

This press release just came in from Phil Stanton, VCU Director of Athletic Communications:

"VCU will travel to Buffalo, N.Y., to face Duke in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament on Thurs., March 15. The Rams are the No. 11 seed in the West Region, while the Blue Devils are the No. 6 seed. This will be the first meeting between VCU and Duke.

"Under first-year head coach Anthony Grant, the Rams are 27-6 overall and 16-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. VCU earned the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament be defeating George Mason 65-59 in the championship game of the CAA Tournament this past Monday at the Richmond Coliseum. The Rams enter the NCAA Tournament on a five-game winning streak.

'Duke, under long-time head coach Mike Krzyzewski, compiled an overall record of 22-10 and posted an 8-8 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils enter the NCAA Tournament having lost three straight and seven of their past 11 contests."

The irony is that when VCU hired Jeff Capel, an ex-Dookie, as its head coach in 2002, many postive-thinking observers thought that would surely bring on a regular season game with Duke. Maybe two there, and one here. It didn’t happen. Capel is now coaching Oklahoma, a school which did not make the NCAA cut this time.

Now the first-ever matchup with the high and mighty Blue Devils comes by way of the NCAA tournament, a year after Capel’s departure. This irony won’t be lost on the VCU players, who, facing this first-round game, may well be much hungrier than Duke’s.

Well, I think VCU has an excellent chance to defeat Duke. This is the weakest Duke squad we’ve seen in years and VCU is being coached by the first-year head coach who surely will be one of the most, if not THE most, sought-after coaches in the country in a month -- Anthony Grant.

Meanwhile, for the fun of it, I’m going to say the upstart Rams will actually do it in an underachievers vs. overachievers scenario. Yeah, I know this prediction could look way too home-cooked after the game is played, but here goes anyway: VCU 69, Duke 64.

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