Believe me, If I said to my friends at school, "Hey guys! Did you see VCU got in? I have them winning the whole thing! Go Rams!" I would probably be shot. When I saw VCU vs. USC, I instinctively picked USC. I had no idea what VCU was. No one thought they would be in the tournament, heck I don't think most people knew there was a "Virginia Commonwealth University."
When the First Four games were on, I saw VCU, and I was astounded at the video game-like speed of Joey Rodriguez. But I didn't know they advanced. Not until I saw them again, this time against Purdue. I loved to watch them, and I have since they started their journey into their first ever Final Four. Wait, what?
After beating USC in the First Four, VCU's next game was against Georgetown, a six seed in the southwest bracket, and a team from the big bad Big East conference. No chance. No way would this be when Georgetown decides to put the ball anywhere but the basket. They won't let it go, they won't choke.
One game later, there was VCU, from the Colonial Athletic Conference, an 11th seeded play-in team, advancing to the third round. They beat Georgetown 74-56. The Rams made 26/39 free throws. They got 39 opportunities. WHAT?! Georgetown made 11/13. Another stat was the Hoyas managed to shoot 5/26 from the arc, which equals 19 percent. The Rams made 12/25 which is 48 percent. The Rams dominated this supposedly great team. However, that brought them almost no confidence at all. It was a fluke, people said. A dominating performance like that was a fluke. Somehow, people in my class were saying Richmond was the big deal. Next stop for VCU, Purdue in the round of 32.
Now there was no way VCU was going to get past JaJuan Johnson and the Purdue Boilermakers. They were in contention for a No. 1 seed from the Big 10, and were strong all year long. After VCU emerged victorious, 94-76, the stat sheet shows less domination than the Georgetown game. It looks like it all came down to the seven more shots from the field the Rams made, a 37 to 30 advantage. They also had a few more free throws, but didn't force Purdue into any bad percentages.
VCU held both Johnson and Moore to a combined 35 points. The only poor stat of the day was that Moore only shot 5 of 15. Watching the game, one could tell, VCU had the game from the beginning. They were then put into a Sweet 16 matchup no one dreamed of; Florida State, having beat Notre Dame, was going to play VCU.
VCU faced it's first real challenge in Florida State, beating them 72-71. People will argue that FSU had an opportunity to win in the final seconds of overtime, but that isn't what happened. VCU won by one point in overtime. The game was one with runs, back and forth for either team. VCU proved it could come from behind, but also gave a reason to hate: Florida State was defiantly underrated, but on paper, an 11 seed having that much trouble with a 10 seed had no chance against their next matchup. The only remaining No. 1 seed, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas only held the lead for the first minutes of the game. After that, the Rams had punched their ticket to Houston, and they did it with perfection. They shot 12/25 beyond the arc, most of them coming in the last minutes of the second half, when it was to seal the deal. Kansas played like the ones who weren't prepared for the game at all. They hadn't gone through a challenge in Boston U, Illinois, or Richmond, and when they played this team that played like it was the overall No. 1, they acted like they had no business being there.
They shot 2/21 from three-point land. If I were a No. 1 seed, and I shot like I was trying to be Jimmer Fredette, and I'm not, I wouldn't be able to live with myself. They didn't win, and got embarrassed in the process. The game was over when the deficit got back to seven, the last three points were for the stat sheet. VCU advanced to not only it's first Final Four, but into possibly one of the greatest stories in the NCAA tourney. And they deserved it.
Throughout the tournament, VCU played like the better team. Whether this was just from motivation as an underdog that was supposedly not supposed to make the tournament at all, we don't know. And still somehow, my peers tell me VCU, nor Butler, will win. Why? They can't keep going. They won't beat a UConn or a Kentucky. No, they won't beat USC...or Georgetown...or Purdue...or Kansas.
Whichever team makes this championship, and as much as I love Brad Stevens, I want VCU, they can make history. I don't know how there is doubt about VCU, but believe me when I say they've beat these types before, and they definitely have it in them to win another two games to create history. They've gone through someone from almost every major conference. First the Pac-10, then the Big East, next the Big 10, the ACC and the Big 12. Next stop, Horizon League, then hopefully onto the championship. This, ladies and gentlemen, is March Madness. GO RAMS!