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VCU ready to rip through CAA, but will it lead to the NCAAs?

Dec 28, 2011, 4:41 PM EST

spt-111227-shaka Getty Images

Guess who’s poised to dominate the CAA this season? Hint: It’s not George Mason, who’s regressed under Paul Hewitt.

Yep, it’s VCU.

Turns out Shaka Smart’s team – despite losing four starters from last year’s Final Four team – is still dangerous thanks to its aggressive defense, the development of point guard Darius Theus and the superb play of senior Brad Burgess. (Also doesn’t hurt that Smart’s a helluva good coach.)

The Rams are 9-3, but have won six straight, all by double digits. They had some early stumbles against Seton Hall and Georgia Tech, then dropped a close game at Alabama, but beyond those, they’ve emerged as the class of the league.

And it may not be close.

They’re projected to win 14 CAA games and are overwhelming favorites to claim the regular-season title. By multiple sites.

In fact, if not for the out-of-nowhere surprise season of Georgia State – holy Lefty Drisell, check out that record! – it’d probably be a runaway. Maybe George Mason could figure things out and defend its crown, but I’m doubtful. Not with that disjointed offense. (Poor Ryan Pearson.)

But when March rolls around and the Rams are prepping for the CAA tourney, will it be a lose-or-miss-the-Big-Dance event? It’s looking that way.

VCU’s 73rd in RPI and figures to drop when CAA play rolls around. If they beat Akron, Georgia State and George Mason, those could go down as top-100 wins. That’s it. Perhaps they’ll get some credit if they do dominate the CAA, but that’s asking a lot.

But hey, why worry about Shaka’s squad in March, especially in a tournament setting? That’s so 2010.

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