The ACC. The A-10. The Big East. The Big Ten. The Big 12. The SEC. When it comes to college sports, especially college basketball, these are the “Power Conferences.” The emergence of smaller schools such as Virgina Commonwealth (making their first ever Final Four appearance) and Butler (making their 2nd consecutive Final Four appearance) are showing that there truly isn’t much difference between David and Goliath.
The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) had two teams make the NCAA Tournament, and one, VCU, who will be playing on Saturday, April 2nd, for the chance to play in the NCAA Championship game. VCU, who many regard as a team who shouldn’t have been in the tournament after losing the Conference Championship to Old Dominion (ODU), who was the first-round NCAA Tournament of VCU’s Final Four opponent, the Butler Bulldogs.
Speaking of Butler, the Horizon League Champions for the second consecutive year, are also making a second consecutive Final Four appearance, and looking to appear in their second consecutive National Championship game. Butler edged out CAA Champion ODU in a 2-point first round win in the Tournament, and pulled off a thrilling 1-point victory over top-seeded Pitt in their second round victory. A fairly easy win over Wisconsin set up a rematch of last year’s upset tournament win over Florida, which set up for a classic 3-point win to put Butler back in the Final Four.
The Cinderella cliche has seemingly disappeared, being that there is almost no such thing as an upset at this point. College basketball has become more fundamental, and flawless execution can take you from obscurity to stardom over the course of 3 or 4 games. VCU, not known for stifling defense, statistically has the 2nd best team defense in the NCAA Tournament. In 3 of their tournament wins, they had twelve 3-pointers made, and for the tournament have shot over 40% from behind the arc. Butler is 9-1 in their last 10 tournament games. Of those 10 games, none of the games were won by more than seven points, and six of those games were decided by three points or less. On Saturday night, the 8th seeded Butler takes on the 11th seeded VCU, producing the highest seeded Final Four match-up in history.