Yesterday, when #8 Butler advanced to their second straight final four everyone said how you can’t call them a Cinderella anymore. Yes they’re a high seed and yes they’re from a mid major conference, but when you make back to back final fours… it’s not a magical, Cinderella run. The same can not be said for Virginia Commonwealth University.
They are a Cinderella team in every sense of the word. Small school, in a small conference (Horizon league), from a pretty small town (Richmond). In fact, in their small town, they aren’t even traditionally the premier basketball school. When people think of college basketball, they think of the Atlantic 10’s Richmond Spiders long before they think of VCU. Or at least, they did. That might not be the case anymore.
VCU upset #1 seeded Kansas today 71-61 to clinch a berth in the final four for the first time in school history. The Jayhawks had been the only #1 seed left in the tournament, so their elimination means that this will be just the 3rd ever Final Four without a #1 seed in it. For the first time in tournament history, two teams seeded #8 or lower will meet in the Final Four(Butler & VCU).
Just to further illustrate how rare this Final Four will be, two teams from mid-major conferences have never advanced to this point since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. For the last time it did happen, you have to go all the way back to 1979 when Larry Bird and Indiana State were joined by Penn in the Final Four.
Of course since Butler and VCU play each other, we’re guaranteed that one of the two will play for the National Title to become the first non power conference team to win the tournament since UNLV 21 years ago. The winner of the VCU/Butler game will face either UConn, North Carolina or Kentucky… all traditional basketball powers from major conferences. Those three schools have a combined 14 NCAA tournament titles between them.