NCAA Tournament Final Four: Why VCU Basketball Had the Easiest Road to Houston

David BarbourContributor IIIApril 2, 2011

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 01:  Head coach Shaka Smart of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams points as he stands next to Joey Rodriguez #12, Ed Nixon #50 and Darius Theus #10 during practice prior to the 2011 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Virginia Commonwealth's improbable run to the Final Four makes for a great story, but the Rams have benefited from having a lucky draw in the NCAA tournament.

Of the four teams remaining, Virginia Commonwealth has faced the least dominant competition.

Before facing the Rams and having their respective seasons come to an end, Virginia Commonwealth's four NCAA tournament opponents combined to outscore their opposition by 14.0 points per 100 possessions, which is the smallest such winning margin of any of the Final Four's NCAA tournament teams.

Although Virginia Commonwealth's offense has had to play against the stingiest defenses, based on the fact that their opponents have held teams to only 95.9 points per 100 possessions, Virginia Commonwealth's defense has benefited by having to defend offenses who have scored just 109.9 points per 100 possessions.

That offensive rating is the lowest of any of the Final Four's NCAA tournament teams.

As for the other teams left, Connecticut and Kentucky have faced almost equally dominant opponents in the NCAA tournament.

Connecticut's tournament foes outscored their opposition by 15.4 points per 100 possessions before Connecticut ended their seasons, and Kentucky's tournament opposition outscored their opponents by 15.3 points per 100 possessions before they played the Wildcats and were subsequently sent home.

Unsurprisingly, based on the fact that Butler had to play Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Florida to make it to the Final Four, the Bulldogs can boast the most difficult road traveled to this Final Four, making it even more impressive that they made it to Houston.

Butler's tournament opponents outscored their respective competition by a combined 16.0 points per 100 possessions before they squared off against the Bulldogs.

Teams can only play the teams on their schedule, and Virginia Commonwealth does deserve credit for beating multiple opponents who had better seasons. But if they had to face the other three teams' opponents, they might not have made it to the Final Four.