One of these magical runs had to end. For Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams, it was the wrong one.
As expected, VCU’s rebounding deficiencies were on full display tonight, surrendering 14 offensive rebounds and giving Butler tons of second chances to make up for their 34% field goal percentage. Jamie Skeen was a huge asset on the offensive end to the tune of 27 points on 19 shots, but he only pulled 6 rebounds, and foul trouble kept him from going full tilt on the glass. When both teams shoot terribly, it’s on the glass and at the foul line where games get decided.
Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack did what they do — scoring 41 points on 23 shots, getting to the line at a tremendous rate and making every play Brad Stevens needed them to make. The guard play of Butler was too much for the Rams to overcome, especially with a really awful game from Joey Rodriguez, who had carried VCU for much of the tournament. He was just 1-11 for the game.
The game was closer than the 70-62 final and VCU should have a ton of pride for the run they pulled off to get to this place. Defying logic and odds for two weeks, it’s unfortunate it had to come to an end.
Butler will continue to carry the Cinderella torch into the Championship Game against the winner of the Kentucky/UConn game which starts momentarily. They’re a tougher matchup for UConn because the Huskies can’t match the Bulldogs depth on the wings, while Kentucky has the personnel to do so. Brad Stevens and his bunch will watch the next game intently to see who they’ll get to face on Championship Monday.