The NCAA bracket results 2011 have been incredibly rare. However, this isn’t the first bracket to have a No. 11 seed reach the NCAA Final Four. But the results for VCU have been rather different than those for the 1986 LSU Tigers, and the 2006 George Mason Patriots. None of those past Cinderellas won five games, like VCU had to do. In addition, none of them reached the national title game, whereas the Rams have a better shot than any of them.
Of course, there was no ‘First Four’ in 1986 or 2006, as LSU and George Mason didn’t need that extra round to get in. This gives VCU’s run an extra edge over both of those No. 11 seeded regional champions, and they can take one more by defeating Butler tomorrow.
By the time the Tigers and Patriots reached the Final Four, it became clear before long that they wouldn’t go further. In 1986, LSU put up a fight in the national semifinals against Louisville, but they finally gave out to the future champions. In 2006, George Mason ran out of gas against Florida – another future champion.
If this pattern holds, it will bode well for Butler, both for their showdown with VCU and for their national title hopes. However, this year’s bracket is more wide open for the Rams than it was for the Tigers and Patriots. Two No. 1 seeds and Louisville joined LSU in 1986, while George Mason dealt with a team that would become a two-time champ.
The improbable results of the 2011 NCAA tournament leave VCU against a fellow mid-major power – albeit one with more Final Four experience. In addition, the Rams would face either Connecticut or Kentucky in the final, and although those two are on a massive roll, they aren’t the unbeatable Huskies or Wildcats of the past.
In this improbable season, it isn’t far-fetched to imagine VCU as the first No. 11 seed to reach a title game – or even to win one. After overcoming endless backlash before the Big Dance started, and clobbering Georgetown, Purdue and Kansas, beating Butler, Connecticut and Kentucky seems a bit simpler by comparison.
If the Rams won it all, they would be the first program in March Madness history to win seven games in the tournament. They could also be the first one ever to win six games without taking the championship. It has been that kind of unlikely ride for the Rams, and for the Dance in general.
Part of these results aren’t unprecedented, since it isn’t shocking for mid-majors and low seeds to go this far anymore. Yet it can be argued that no NCAA bracket has seen a run like VCU’s – and it will be undisputed if they win one or two more games.
CBS Sports- “Division I Men’s Bracket”
ESPN- “VCU stakes claim as all-time Cinderella”