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Monday
Mar282011

USA TODAY: Final Four an Improbable Bunch

The most improbable Final Four since NCAA tournament seeding began in 1979 took shape Sunday as a double-digit seed and a once-proud champion played their way to Houston next weekend.

By Eileen Blass, USA TODAY

For the first time, neither a No. 1 nor a No. 2 seed will be there. Virginia Commonwealth of the Colonial Athletic Association and Butler of the Horizon League advanced, marking the first time two teams from outside the six power conferences are in the same Final Four since the bracket expanded in 1985.

All four have back stories:

  • No. 3 Connecticut finished ninth in the Big East, then won nine games in 19 days. It also weathered an NCAA investigation that led to a three-game suspension for coach Jim Calhoun next season to reach the Final Four.
  • No. 4 Kentucky is in its first Final Four since 1998. Coach John Calipari is taking his third team, though trips by Massachusetts and Memphis were later vacated because of NCAA rules violations.
  • No. 8 Butler, which started the season 4-4, is the first school from outside the six major conferences to make back-to-back Final Fours since UNLV in 1990 and '91.
  • No. 11 VCU won an unprecedented five games to reach the Final Four after playing in an opening-round game.

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