RICHMOND, Va. – For the 10th time in school history, Virginia Commonwealth University will dance into the NCAA Tournament.
VCU (23-11) received one of the field's 37 at-large bids Sunday night and will face Southern California at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday, March 16 at 9 p.m. in a first round play-in game. The winner will earn the No. 11 seed in the Southeast Region and take on sixth-seeded Georgetown in at the United Center in Chicago, Ill. on Friday, March 18.
Coached by Kevin O'Neill, USC is 19-14 this season and finished fourth in the Pac-10. The Rams and Trojans share common opponents in UCLA and Tennessee. VCU beat UCLA and lost to Tennessee. USC beat Tennessee and split two meetings with the Bruins this year.
It will be the Rams' fourth NCAA appearance since 2004. VCU also made the field in 2004, 2007 and 2009. It's the first at-large berth for the Black and Gold since the 1983-84 season, when the Rams defeated Northeastern in the first round.
VCU's recent NCAA history is marked by one stunning upset and a few near-misses. In 2007, the 11th-seeded Rams upset sixth-seeded Duke, 79-77, in Buffalo, N.Y. on Eric Maynor's 17-foot jumper with 1.8 seconds remaining. VCU later rallied from 18 points down against third-seeded Pitt before falling in overtime, 84-79.
In 2004, the Jeff Capel-led Rams suffered a one-point loss to Wake Forest, led by future NBA star Chris Paul. In VCU's most recent appearance, the Rams battled UCLA until the final buzzer before dropping a 65-64 decision.
The Rams won four NCAA Tournament games in five years in the early 80's. In 1985, VCU was the No. 2 seed in the West Region and advanced to the second round.
VCU NCAA TOURNAMENT QUICK FACTS
NCAA Appearances: 10 (1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1996, 2004, 2007, 2009, 2011)
NCAA Record: 5-9
Last Appearance: 2009 (UCLA, L, 65-64)
Last NCAA Win: 2007 (Duke, W, 79-77)