The Virginia Commonwealth University Rams kept their “Cinderella” run alive, pulling off the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament so far with a 71-61 victory over No. 1 seed Kansas University in the Southwest Region Finals on March 27 in San Antonio.

The odds were stacked high against VCU (28-11) even reaching the Elite 8 round, let alone becoming just the third No. 11 seed to advance to the Final Four. But VCU head coach Shaka Smart said his team believed all along that they had what it takes to beat one of the top teams in the nation.

“I believe in these guys, and I’m proud of how resilient they are under pressure,” Smart said during a postgame interview. “I’m just proud of our guys and everyone who did believe in us.”

VCU dominated Kansas (35-3) with stellar outside shooting, just as they’ve done against every other opponent they’ve faced in March.

VCU shot their way to a 14-point lead at halftime, but Kansas turned up their defensive pressure in the second half, closing the lead to just two points with less than six minutes remaining. But VCU kept its stroke from the outside and eventually pulled away to seal their trip to the Final Four where they’ll face No. 8 ranked Butler, the winner of the Southeast Finals.

“We knew Kansas was going to make a run in the second half,” Coach Shaka said, “but we never gave up that lead and kept fighting.”

Senior forward Jamie Skeen led the Rams with 26 points, making 4-of-7 three-pointers and 10-of-12 free throws. Senior guard Brandon Rozzell followed with 12 points scored off the bench, while junior guard Bradford Burgess and senior guard Joey Rodriguez both added nine points each.

Junior forward Marcus Morris led Kansas with 20 points, while his brother Markieff Morris, a forward, added 13 points in the loss.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor