The NCAA tournament bracket has seen some unlikely sights. Right now, the bracket shows Butler back in the Final Four once again, as a No. 8 seed this time. Yet they aren’t even the biggest surprise of March, thanks to VCU’s charge from the First Four to the Elite Eight. But out of all the shockers in the tournament so far, a Butler-VCU national semifinal would be unprecedented – yet it is only one step away.
Thanks to Butler’s win over Florida, the Bulldogs can now await the winner of today’s Kansas-VCU battle. The whole world pretty much expects Kansas to win, which would give Butler their latest David vs Goliath showdown on Saturday night. But if it turns out the other way, no one might know what to think.
If VCU pulls off the upset of Kansas today, it will rank right alongside George Mason’s Final Four run, and Butler’s national championship charge last season. But when the Patriots and Bulldogs won their regional titles, they didn’t face a fellow mid-major afterwards. Yet the Rams and Bulldogs will be on a collision course in Houston, should VCU advance.
It is safe to say that no tournament bracket will have seen a game like that before, at least this late in the season. Butler vs VCU is a matchup that seems more suited for ESPN’s “Brackbusters” lineup, not as a Final Four game. If it actually happens, however, it is hard to say how it will be received.
For CBS, they could consider it a ratings nightmare, even though they can hype up two Cinderella stories. Others might consider it a mere undercard, and regard the other semifinal between UConn and Kentucky/North Carolina as the real title game. It might even be an indictment of college basketball as a whole these days, since it is so parity stricken that even two mid-majors can win regionals.
Of course, for the mid-majors as a whole, a Butler-VCU Final Four matchup would be their greatest victory ever. The past runs of George Mason, Davidson and Butler established how the non power conferences are closing the gap in March Madness. Having two of their own meet for a shot at the national title would be the biggest statement of all.
All of that is only possible if VCU actually beats Kansas, however. For all that’s happened already, it is still considered a massive long shot, especially with Kansas as the one big favorite left. Even in an era where Butler can win two regionals in a row, having another mid-major join them – especially one that no one wanted to make the bracket – may still be too outlandish.
But the actual test of that will come at 2:20 pm est today on CBS. Of all the surprises that the NCAA tournament has yielded, one more VCU win will set up the most unlikely sight of all in Houston.
CBS Sports- “Division I Men’s Bracket”
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