VCU stuns Kansas, heads to Final Four
Monday, March 28, 2011
Move over, Butler. Virginia Commonwealth is crashing the Final Four.
Two weeks ago, the 11th-seeded Rams so doubted they would get an NCAA tournament invite they watched Cartoon Network and went out for burgers instead of watching the selection show. Now, all of America will be watching them in the Final Four.
The 11th-seeded Rams are heading to Houston, and final No. 1 seed Kansas is heading home after the biggest March upset in years.
VCU stunned the Jayhawks 71-61 on Sunday, becoming just the third 11th seed to make the Final Four. The Jayhawks had been the last top seed standing, but what looked like an easy path to the final weekend ended in a stunning collapse.
Eighth-seeded Butler, you’re promoted to a favorite next week. VCU is the trendy underdog pick this year.
“Once again we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into this game,” said VCU coach Shaka Smart, the budding star of the tournament. “Our guys have done a phenomenal job of putting all the doubters aside, all the people that didn’t believe in us, and going out to do their job.”
VCU guard Joey Rodriguez counted one of Kansas’ vaunted Morris twins — Marcus or Markieff — as one of those many doubters. During a pregame captains meeting with officials, Rodriguez said one of the brothers offered him some parting words: “The run ends here.”
“We’ll see,” Rodriguez shot back.
The Jayhawks saw all right.
VCU players, hoisting their Southwest regional champion trophy, poured into the temporary bleachers where VCU’s widely outnumbered fans sat in an Alamodome that was otherwise colored in Kansas blue and white.
VCU had sold out its allotment of 1,000 tickets in San Antonio after advancing farther than any Rams team in school history. The weekend before in Chicago, VCU had so many leftovers Purdue fans scooped them up.
Jamie Skeen led VCU with 26 points, and as the final seconds ticked down, heaved the ball from the freethrow line into the stands behind the opposite backboard. His teammates on the bench, who spent the final minutes with locked arms to hold each other back, finally spilled out onto the court, grinning ear to ear.