Atlantic 10 fans have their championship game dream matchup. The No. 25 VCU Rams took care of the Massachusetts Minutemen on Saturday, 71-62, to earn a spot in the league's title game.
The second-seeded Rams will face the top-seeded Saint Louis Billikens Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Barclays Center.
VCU came into Saturday's semifinals with an NCAA Tournament bid basically assured, having won nine of its last 11 games, including one over then-No. 20 Butler.
But just because VCU is ranked 25th in the country, is two years removed from the Final Four and was the definitive favorite coming into this one, it didn't mean that the desperate Minutemen were about to back off.
UMass, playing for its NCAA Tournament life, jumped out to a nine-point lead and appeared ready to stick with the Rams for a full 40 minutes. When VCU pulled ahead in the second half, the Minutemen battled back, led by a few gutsy drives and finishes from 5'9 guard Chaz Williams.
Then the Rams responded. They took a double-digit lead with 10:03 to play off a basket, followed by a steal in the back court. Treveon Graham recovered the loose ball on the floor and fed it to Melvin Johnson for the layup, sending the mostly yellow-clad crowd into a frenzy.
But UMass just wouldn't go away, and again came back. Trey Davis hit a three to draw the Minutemen closer, then was fouled shooting a three and sunk a free throw to make it a four-point game with 7:38 to left.
UMass then pulled to within two and had a chance to tie the game around the five-minute mark. But Cady Lalanne missed a layup, leading to a fast break on the other end. Briante Weber connected, was fouled and made his free throw. Then, he came up with a huge steal and found Daniels, who hit a three and promptly made it an eight-point game with 4:18 to play.
VCU finally put the Minutemen away in the final minute, when after 35 seconds of solid defense from UMass, Rob Brandenberg buried a three to take the air out of any possible comeback.
Juvonte Reddic had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead VCU to victory. Williams had 18 for UMass in the loss. The Minutemen will find out on Selection Sunday if their two wins in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, including one over third-seeded Temple, is enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.