There's nothing more dangerous than a team with its back to the wall, fending for itself while facing steep criticism. If it wasn't already evident, this year's surprise Final Four team, the VCU Rams, is all the evidence we need. On Selection Sunday, head coach Shaka Smart's team was ripped by the pundits as the near-unanimous sentiment was VCU didn't belong in the NCAA Tournament. So Smart did what any intrepid coach would do and used all the naysayers as motivation for his team.
And boy did it work. Playing in the First Four, part of the NCAA Tournament's expansion to 68 teams, VCU began its run. And what a run its been. The No. 11 seed that nobody thought belong anywhere near the Big Dance has been on a tear, reeling off upset win after upset win en route to the Final Four.
What do you need to know about VCU? With a little help from Ken Pomeroy, we'll tell you. Check out the VCU team page at Pomeroy's site for more on the Rams. To find out what these numbers mean, check out Pomeroy's explanation.
KenPom Rank: 49, lowest of the remaining teams.
Offense: 113.3 offensive efficiency (ranked 27th), 51.2 eFG% (72nd), 17.2 turnover percentage (27th) and 37.4 free throw rate
Defense: 97.7 defensive efficiency (87th), 49.4 eFG% (185th), 36.4 offensive rebounding percentage allowed (321st), 12.6 steal percentage (12th)
What it means: On the offensive end, VCU takes care of the ball, shoots a bit above average and scores about 1.13 points per possession. It's an efficient offense that's among the best in the country, but not quite in elite company. VCU isn't a strong rebounding team, as evidenced by both its offensive and defensive rebounding percentages, but the Rams do force turnovers, and have one of the best steal percentages in the NCAA.
Star watch: If you don't know Joey Rodriguez yet, you haven't been watching the NCAA Tournament. Rodriguez is the key for the Rams, and his efficiency numbers bear that out. His assist rate, 30.5, is easily the best on the team and his steal percentage, 2.8, ranks among the team leaders. He's efficient on the offensive end, with a 104.0 ORtg, but his job is to be the creator.
And which players finish when Rodriguez creates? Jamie Skeen, Brandon Rozzell and Bradford Burgess. Skeen has the second-highest ORtg on the team, at 118.1, while using 23.6 percent of the Rams' possessions and taking 21.9 percent of the shots while on the floor. He can shoot and has the second-best eFG% on the team at 56.2.
Burgess has the highest ORtg on the team at 118.7. He doesn't take the bulk of the shots, only using 19.8 percent of the possessions and 21 percent of the shots when on the floor, but he's efficient in his scoring. His eFG% is the best on the team, at 57.8. Rozzell is the third of the scoring trio and posted an ORtg of 116.0 while using 21.2 percent of the Rams' possessions and taking 26.8 percent of the shots. He's typically a bench guy, and his minutes were down due to injury, but Rozzell can light it up at a moment's notice.
VCU takes the floor in Houston for the Final Four against Butler on Saturday. For more previews, check back with our Final Four StoryStream throughout the day. Check out the printable bracket at SB Nation or visit their NCAA Tournament hub for more March Madness coverage.