RICHMOND, Va. – With three of its top four scorers returning from last year's squad that went 27-9 and reached the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 for the third straight season, the VCU men's basketball team entered preseason practice with high expectations.

With the release of the USA Today Preseason Top-25, it's obvious those expectations aren't limited to just the student-athletes and coaching staff. For the first time in school history, VCU will start the year ranked in the top-25 at #15.

"We've always had high expectations within our program and we want to be at a place that there is high expectations for us and that's the way VCU is," Head Coach Shaka Smart said. "I think it says a lot about our returning players, but it really doesn't change much in terms of our approach. The bottom line is that everyone starts the year 0-0."

VCU's earliest top-25 ranking prior to this year came in 1983-84 when the Rams were slotted #20 in the second poll of the season.

Overall, the Black & Gold have been in the top-25 of the Associated Press Poll or USA Today Coaches Poll 20 times. Nine of those times came during the 2012-13 season.

VCU finished last year ranked #23, marking the second time in the past three seasons that the Rams have finished the season in the Top-25.