March Madness 2011: Which Double-Digit Cinderella Will Dance Through Sweet 16?
As 10th-seeded Florida State, No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth, No. 11 Marquette and No. 12 Richmond continue to dance in the 2011 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, the question still remains: Who will be dancing their way into the Elite Eight?
At this stage in the college basketball season, literally anything is possible.
Just ask George Mason, who was an 11-seed five years ago and made their way all the way to the Final Four.
Here’s a look at the lower-seeded teams trying to make a run at the Elite Eight and what they’ll have to do to continue dancing in 2011.
Florida State Seminoles
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Their next game is Friday in San Antonio against newly-donned Cinderella No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth.
The Seminoles beat No. 7 seed Texas A&M and No. 2 Notre Dame to claim a spot in the Sweet 16 out of the Southwest region.
After playing a bulk of their tourney games without leading scorer and rebounder Chris Singleton, FSU is finally at full strength entering Friday’s game.
Singleton’s presence on the court will more than likely claim a lot of attention from VCU’s defenders, and as the ‘Noles prepare for a 'go-big-or-go-home' game, they take comfort in knowing that their deep roster can finally reach its full potential.
The ‘Noles' size and length is what really flusters teams both offensively and defensively.
Holding TAMU and ND to a combined 31 percent from the floor in their first two games, the Seminoles play suffocating help-defense, while their offense is finally on point as we saw in their last matchup against the Irish.
Expect Florida State to come out strong against VCU and showcase their nation’s best defense on the way to an Elite Eight appearance.
Virginia Commonwealth Rams
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Facing the Seminoles on Friday, the Rams will be looking to solidify their highly-criticized at-large bid into the tournament.
Beating No. 11-seed USC in their first game and then Goliath No. 6-seed Purdue in astonishing fashion, VCU is arguable the tournament's hottest team at the moment.
The Rams have been carried by their superb three-point shooting, going 41.5 percent from behind the arc, but look for the ‘Noles lock-down D to shut it down in San Antonio.
The Rams are America’s sweetheart, and they do have a legitimate shot at an Elite Eight appearance. They just can’t look past their next matchup against Florida State.
Marquette Golden Eagles
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One of only two teams from the Big East conference still dancing, the Marquette Golden Eagles will have an uphill battle ahead of them as they face North Carolina in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
The Eagles pride themselves on tough defensive matchups, but they face a overwhelmingly experienced UNC offense that will try to set the offensive tempo early on.
Matched up against the taller and lengthier UNC big men, Marquette will have a tough time rebounding and scoring in the paint, but look for their hard-hitting demeanor to carry them early in the game.
This team seems to have the smallest chance to continue dancing, but this is the NCAA tourney, people. Anything is possible.
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The Spiders from Richmond face finalist-favorite No. 1 Kansas on Friday, and their chance of winning seems slim to none.
With potential NBA draft pick Justin Harper on their side, Richmond will put up a great fight against the Jayhawks and will use their size and defense to try and claim a huge upset.
It’s not impossible to say that the Spiders can pull this one off. They’ve been good late in games, and if they can keep this one close during the final minutes, this should be the game of the week to watch.