Cinderella brought a wrecking ball to the Big Dance as four double-digit seeds forced their way into the Sweet Sixteen.
For all the non-believers out there
The ‘they don’t respect us’ card has been played to death in sports but no team has used it with such swagger as the #11 seed VCU Rams in March Madness. Having finished fourth in the CAA, the Rams were a surprise pick by the selection committee. ESPN’s talking heads savaged the decision. Now they are stuck eating humble pie.
VCU’s foray into the First Four was a swift and brutal beating of USC. The Georgetown Hoyas followed on Friday and the Rams pummelled the Big East outfit. Then came Purdue. As a #3 seed, and one with an impressive defensive resume, the Boilermakers looked a safe bet to end VCU’s season. Instead the Rams made it three dominant performances out of three with a 94-76 win. Along with the neighboring Richmond Spiders, VCU have ensured the city of Richmond, VA, has as many teams in the Sweet Sixteen as the Big East.
Upsets in bunches
Speaking of the Spiders, #12 Richmond was the most fortunate of the double-digit winners in the round of 64 as they faced #13 seed Morehead State for a place in Sweet Sixteen. Richmond duly advanced and now face #1 Kansas for a place in the Southwest regional final. At least one double-digit seed will make it to the Elite Eight as #10 seed Florida State will meet VCU for a shot at the winner of the Kansas-Richmond game. While 9 teams seed #1-#4 made it to the Sweet Sixteen, the concentration of upsets in the Southwest has made this the region to watch this weekend.
The lone double-digit seed to make it through the first weekend in the other three regions was Marquette. The #11 seed Golden Eagles join #1 seed Ohio State, #2 seed North Carolina, and #4 seed Kentucky for the final two rounds in the East region.
Butler bags a big prize
The Bulldogs have beaten their first two opponents by a combined total of 3 points but that’s plenty at this time of year. After edging Old Dominion 70-68, Butler benefitted from a bizarre series of fouls to beat #1 seed Pittsburgh 71-70. To repeat last year’s heroics, by returning to the Final Four, Butler will have to get past Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen. The #4 seed Badgers will be no pushovers. A victory there would send Butler to the Elite Eight, where they would take on either Florida or BYU for a place in Houston.