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VCU advances to Elite Eight in wacky statistical game

Mar 26, 2011, 1:45 AM EDT

I’m not really a numbers guy, but it’s something I’ve had to learn to love as a means of defending arguments and staying abreast of how to best assess teams during the season.

Close throughout, Florida State and Virginia Commonwealth offered one of the wackiest basic and advanced statistic box scores, as both teams clawed their way though 45 minutes of play leveraging entirely different strengths that their players possess. In the end, it was the Rams prevailing in overtime 72-71, meaning Kyle Whelliston is going to bed dreaming of the potential for the most magical of mid-major match-ups in Houston.

As cool as it sounds – Butler against VCU for the right to play in the national championship game – I’m here to quickly shoot that down, as I can confidently say that neither VCU really has a chance against Kansas on Sunday – nor would the Seminoles.

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So let’s dive into this laundry list of strange but true statistics from this Sweet 16 thriller:

  • At the end of the first half, the Seminoles had attempted 19 more field goals than the Rams. They were still down five.
  • Struggling to find any sort of rhythm on offense, only 27 percent of the Seminoles made baskets were assisted on. To put that in perspective, Utah was last in the country in Assist Percentage this season… at 40 percent.
  • Following each of the 21 offensive rebounds the Seminoles pulled down, they shot 8-18 in second chance opportunities. Those extra points were vital.
  • Posting an impressive 56.6 eFG percentage, the Rams were unable to pull away from FSU because of (conversely) a limited second chance opportunities. The Seminoles grabbed 79 percent of the available defensive rebounds.
  • Just a tick under half of VCU’s shots were from beyond the arc. Bradford Burgess converted on 6 of 7 long balls, and he’s now shooting 73 percent (11-15) in the past three games.
  • Derwin Kitchen led all Seminoles with 23 points, but was 0 of 3 in wise decisions made with the clock approaching zero. Kitchen had the ball in his hands at the end of the first half, second half, and OT, all which resulted in fumbled opportunities with no good looks at the basket. Not quite for the KenPom minions, but still noteworthy.

In short, this was a weird game.

I love what Shaka Smart and his club have done for the past two weeks. Shooting the lights out, sticking it to the talking heads, and continuing the trend that the CAA is not just a mid-major, it’s a formidable athletic conference that’s worthy of being a multi-bid league each and every year. I just think a pumpkin awaits them outside of the Alamo Dome on Sunday.