By Paul J. Weber
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Move over, Butler. Virginia Commonwealth is crashing the Final Four.
The 11th-seeded Rams, who didn’t even bother watching the NCAA tournament selection show, are heading to Houston, and final No. 1 seed Kansas is heading home after a spectacular collapse.
Jamie Skeen scored 26 points as the Rams delivered the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament, shocking the Jayhawks 71-61 on Sunday to become just the third 11th seed to ever make the Final Four.
So doubtful were the Rams of even making the tournament that they watched the Cartoon Network and went out for fast food instead of watching the selection show two weeks ago. Now, they’re Houston-bound after an incredible takedown of the last No. 1 seed.
“Those people (the doubters) don’t matter,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “The only people that matter is the 14 guys on our team, and they never stopped believing.”
It’s George Mason all over again, and VCU had an even tougher Final Four path than their tiny conference brethren in 2006.
The Rams needed five wins to go from First Four to Final Four. Along the way, they toppled teams from the Pac-10, Big East, Big 10, ACC and now the Big 12.
They’ll pick on someone their own size next: Butler.
The Jayhawks? All they did was bully smaller teams to get this far. Kansas never apologized for coasting through a favorable bracket that served up schools seeded 16th (Boston University), ninth (Illinois) and 12th (Richmond).
None of those games tested the Jayhawks, who had been ranked No. 1 this season and had won 11 in row. Then VCU came out and showed it wasn’t just another pushover.
The Jayhawks spent the first half not knowing what hit them.
Kansas (36-3) hadn’t trailed by more than two points the entire tournament. With five minutes left in the first half, the Jayhawks trailed by 17.
VCU (28-11) is the third 11th seed to ever crack the Final Four. The last was George Mason in 2006, when that Colonial Athletic Association school stunned Connecticut in its regional final. LSU made it in 1986.
That upset guaranteed a Final Four without a No. 1 seed.
Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Duke didn’t even last to the regional finals. Two traditional basketball powers, Arizona and Kentucky, and defending runner-up Butler took care of that.
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