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VCU bolsters its schedule and proves a point with Virginia home-and-home series

The Rams get the rare opportunity to play an elite program on their home floor next season.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-VCU vs Oklahoma
Landing the series with Virginia was a win for Will Wade.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Capital City Classic won’t be the only highly anticipated in-state showdown on VCU’s schedule beginning in 2017-18.

It was announced yesterday that VCU and Virginia will start a home-and-home series at the Siegel Center next season, with the return game in Charlottesville the following year.

This follows a similar series from 2013-2014 and 2014-15, in which the road teams won both games, with the Rams grabbing a dramatic win at John Paul Jones Arena. Before that, the programs hadn’t met since a 14-point Rams loss in Mack McCarthy’s debut 1998-99 season.

Besides the excitement the series will create, the biggest boon for VCU is getting a home game lined up with a program like Virginia. This is step up from the best non-conference game last season had to offer: a good, but certainly not exhilarating home game against Cincinnati. Similarly, the highest-profile non-conference game at the Siegel Center this upcoming year might be against Georgia Tech.

That wasn’t lost on Will Wade.

“You don’t get that often, where a team of that caliber comes to your home court,” Wade told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “They’re a top-10 program in the country right now in terms of the last three or four years. Make no mistake, they wouldn’t be doing this if our program wasn’t very good and they didn’t get some benefit out of it as well.”

And his final point is an important one. Tony Bennett, though he’s been known to schedule road games against solid mid-majors, didn’t agree to this out of the goodness of his heart. VCU has simply gotten too good to ignore. A November loss in a true road environment to a team that has appeared in six straight NCAA tournaments and has had a top 50 KenPom rating over that time will not damage the Cavaliers’ resume.

For their part, the Rams have gotten past the point where a win over a program like Virginia is the only way to create early season buzz that lands them in the national polls. But despite Wade’s excellent debut season, 2017-18 and 2018-19 will be further removed from the Shaka Smart era. If there is a drop off — and that is very much an if at this point — these two games can serve as a launching pad.

That’s a win-win for everyone involved, including college basketball fans starved for exciting November games.