Rob Brandenberg, a 2010 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate, is experiencing the madness of March's NCAA men's Division I basketball tournament.
Brandenberg is a freshman guard for Virginia Commonwealth University, located in Richmond, Va. On March 27, VCU defeated Kansas 71-61 to reach the Final Four for the first time in program history. VCU will play Butler in a national semifinal at 6:09 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Reliant Stadium in Houston. The other semifinal pits Kentucky against Connecticut at 8:49 p.m. with the national championship game being played at 9 p.m. Monday, April 4. All three games will be televised on CBS.
Brandenberg has played in 38 of the Rams' 39 games this season. He is averaging 5.1 points and 1.7 rebounds and he is the Rams' third-best 3-point shooter at 34.8 percent. In five tournament games, Brandenberg has played 70 minutes, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
VCU entered the NCAA tournament as an at-large team after the Rams lost to Old Dominion 70-65 on March 7 in the final of the Colonial Athletic Association.
VCU, an 11th seed, opened the NCAA tournament at the First Four in Dayton. The Rams knocked off a fellow 11th seed, University of Southern California, 59-46 on March 16, followed by wins over sixth-seeded Georgetown (74-56 on March 18), third-seeded Purdue (94-76 on March 20) and 10th-seeded Florida State (72-71 in overtime on March 25), which set up the Southwest Regional final against top-seeded Kansas.
Kenyon College graduate Shaka Smart is VCU's head coach. Smart graduated from the Gambier, Ohio, school magna cum laude in 1999 with a degree in history. Smart, a four-year starter and three-year captain, holds Kenyon's single-season (184) and career (542) assist marks. As a senior, he was an all-North Coast Conference selection and was the NCAC Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Last season, Brandenberg averaged nearly 20 points, six rebounds and three assists for Gahanna and was named honorable mention all-state, second-team all-district and the OCC-Ohio Player of the Year. As a team, Gahanna finished 26-1 overall after losing to eventual state champion Massillon Jackson 62-50 in a Division I state semifinal.