Monday, March 21, 2011

Richmond Madness

The NCAA tournament, affectionately known as March Madness, has lived up to its name yet again. Despite many commentators predicting a lot of chalk in this year's bracket (translation: few upsets), I didn't buy it for a second. This was the hardest bracket I've ever filled out, and the games this year have shown why.

This last 4 days was, in my opinion, the best opening rounds of tournament play in a long time. Not just for the upsets, but the competitiveness of the games. A lot of games have come down to the final seconds, including one of the wildest endings you will ever see (Pitt vs. Butler). For those who love the college game, this has been a great reminder why. Teamwork, passion, excitement, this year's tournament has it all.

But perhaps nowhere is the tournament excitement greater than here in the River City. The NCAA field of 68 teams has been narrowed down to 16, and the city of Richmond can proudly boast TWO of those remaining teams. The Spiders of Richmond were given a 12-seed in the tournament, and subsequently beat 5-seed Vanderbilt and 13-seed Morehead State. VCU was the talk of Selection Sunday, with virtually everyone outside of the selection committee feeling that they should not have been in the tournament. The Rams won their play-in game to get the 11-seed, knocked off 6-seed Georgetown, and then looked like a #1 seed in a complete demolition of 3-seed Purdue last night.

The Spiders have the tough task of facing #1 Kansas in the next round. VCU, however, gets #10 Florida State. The dream could live on. If by some amazing feat, they each win their next game, the two would face each other in a regional final for a spot in the final 4. While that may be unlikely, anything is possible, especially this year.

It should be noted, as my friend and former blogger Mr. Haywood pointed out this afternoon, that a 6-mile stretch of the city of Richmond has as many Sweet 16 teams as the Big East, the alleged super-conference who was awarded a record 11 bids. And perhaps the only reason they have two teams left is that those two teams played Big East teams, so someone had to advance. Big East supporters will argue that the teams are actually better but they beat themselves up during conference play. To this point, my father had an eloquent response: "No no no...they ain't worth didly squat." Either way, its a great year for mid-majors.

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