Improbable Final Four takes shape
March 28, 2011, 6:09 am
Did anyone see this coming? The final four is set and I doubt it is what anyone expected. On Sunday, the Kentucky Wildcats and VCU Rams punched their ticket to Houston where the UCONN Huskies and Butler Bulldogs will be waiting for them. Yes, you read that correctly, Virginia Commonwealth is in the final four and they will be taking on Butler. VCU is an 11 seed who many thought shouldn’t have been in the tournament to begin with, while 8 seeded Butler have made yet another surprising run to the final four following up last years thrilling National Championship loss to Duke. These teams have a lot in common; they both defeated the #1 seed in their region, both were looked at as afterthoughts when the bracket first came out, and both are led by young upstart coaches, Brad Stevens (Butler) and Shaka Smart (VCU). They have been considered underdogs all season, it will be interesting to see how each team handles the big stage.
The other half of the final four consists of two elite NCAA programs who were not expected to still be playing this late into March. They are the 3 seeded UCONN Huskies and 4 seeded Kentucky Wildcats. Like the previous matchup, these two teams have much in common. They are both led by top coaches, Jim Calhoun (UCONN) and John Calipari (Kentucky). Both teams went on improbable runs to win their Conference titles, and both are led by their extremely talented guards, Kemba Walker (UCONN) and Brandon Knight (Kentucky). This guard matchup will most likely decide the outcome of the game. It should be noted that these two teams met earlier in the year with UCONN prevailing by a wide margin.
This is the first final four since 1979 that features no 1 or 2 seeds. Because of the match-ups, there will be either an 11 or an 8 seed in the championship game. A truly remarkable achievement for either “mid-major” school. The games will be played Saturday with VCU vs Butler at 6pm and Kentucky vs UCONN at 830pm. The winner of each game will meet Monday night for the National Championship.