WhatIfSports.com and CollegeHoops.net have partnered up to bring you Cinderella Madness 2012.
This college basketball simulation tournament features 16 of the most memorable Cinderella stories from the past eight seasons. We invited teams outside the Big Six conferences, seeded seventh or lower, that advanced to the Sweet 16 or beyond in their bracket to participate.
Utilizing our award-winning college basketball simulation engine, we "played" each match-up 501 times.
2010-11 VCU: Shaka Smart's team was a veteran group led by Joey Rodriguez at the point and Jamie Skeen inside (he could also step out and knock down perimeter shots). Nine players played at least 10 minutes per game for VCU, and their frenetic system would wreak havoc on teams not used to facing it.
The Rams were just 12-6 in Colonial Athletic play (good for fourth) but their SOS of 61 (RPI: 31) helped get them into the field.
The victims: USC, Georgetown, Purdue (in what was likely the best offensive performance of the tournament by any team), Florida State and Kansas. VCU lost to Butler in the Final Four.
2009-10 Northern Iowa: While Ben Jacobson's Panthers will always be remembered by the casual fan for Ali Farokhmanesh's shot to seal the second-round win over Kansas, it must be known that UNI was an outstanding basketball team as well.
The Panthers won the Missouri Valley Conference by three games and went 6-3 against RPI Top 50 teams, meaning that this seed is likely an injustice. They weren't a high-powered offensive team, but UNI had options, from Adam Koch and Jordan Eglseder to Farokhmanesh and Kwadzo Ahelegbe.
The Panthers won all three of their MVC tournament games by 15 points or more, allowing an average of 44.0 points per game. They went on to beat UNLV and Kansas by a combined five points before falling to Michigan State in the Sweet 16.
-Raphielle Johnson, CollegeHoops.net
VCU utilized superior depth and bench play throughout their 2011 run to the Final Four. In a 94-76 drubbing of Purdue, for example, the VCU bench outscored their opponent 29-5. The formula for success was replicated as the Rams squared off with their first-round adversary, the Northern Iowa Panthers.
VCU found itself in a 15-11 hole midway through the first half, but Skeen and super-sub Brandon Rozzell combined to score 15 of the team's next 19 points and VCU enjoyed a 30-27 advantage at the break.
After pacing the Panthers with eight points in the early going, Farokhmanesh hit a scoring drought that lasted 28 minutes. Right on cue, he connected on two three-pointers in just over one minute to erase a six-point Panthers deficit and tie the game at 61-61 with 2:44 remaining.
An exchange of baskets set up VCU's Rozzell for the game-winner, a 15-foot jumper with one second left. The Rams advanced with the 65-63 win.
Rozzell accounted for 19 of VCU's 23 bench points and Skeen added 14 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Farokhmanesh's 14 points (4-6 3FG) led Northern Iowa.
Player of the game: Brandon Rozzell (19 points, 2 steals)
Winning Percentage of 501 Simulations: '11 VCU 64.7% - '10 Northern Iowa 35.3%