The No. 9 seed UCF men’s basketball team is looking to pick up its first NCAA Tournament win in program history Friday night as it takes on No. 8 seed VCU in Columbia, South Carolina.
This is the Knights' first-ever meeting with the Rams.
The Knights are 23-8 on the season, holding an American Athletic Conference record of 13-5. The Rams are 25-7 overall, including a 16-2 Atlantic 10 Conference record. That record clinched them a regular season conference championship.
This is VCU's 17th tournament appearance and its eighth in the last nine years.
The Rams are known for their defense, as they are ranked 15th in the nation in forcing turnovers. They forced a little over 16 per game during the regular season.
“The thing that they do well is turn you over, which generates a lot of their offense,” UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins said. “When they run offense, they do a good job of having spacing. So, they’re a really good basketball team, and they’re well-coached."
UCF redshirt senior guard B.J. Taylor said when the Rams get into their offensive sets, they love to play fast.
“They want to press you and kind of speed the game up and get after you,” Taylor said.
Taylor compared VCU to teams in the American Athletic Conference —specifically Houston and Memphis — in terms of opponents that like to play fast.
Senior forward Chad Brown said the Knights are going into the tournament with a game-by-game mentality.
“We’re just trying to stay focused, trying to stay in the moment and just worry about one game at a time,” Brown said. “Our goal is to go 1-0, and we just focus on one opponent.”
Tipoff for Friday's game is set at 9:40 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, South Carolina.