NCAA tournament Sweet 16: Who's complaining about VCU now?

NCAA tournament Sweet 16 features Virginia Commonwealth taking on Florida State Friday night. Now that the Rams have won three straight tourney games and reached the NCAA tournament Sweet 16, VCU should have to answer to no one.

Jim Prisching/AP
Virginia Commonwealth guard Ed Nixon celebrates from the bench in the second half of a third-round NCAA Southwest Regional tournament college basketball game against Purdue in Chicago, Sunday, March 20. VCU plays Florida State in an NCAA tournament game Friday.

On Selection Sunday, the college basketball community had a thing or two to say about a certain team placed in this year’s NCAA Tournament bracket. And nobody gave Virginia Commonwealth University any credit.

Much like UAB, who lost to Clemson by a large deficit in its 'First Four' game, VCU was attacked all around for being included in this year’s Madness. Only wins against UCLA and Old Dominion really stuck out on the Rams’ schedule and further losses to the same Old Dominion team seemed to shake those flimsy foundations.

But then, the Rams began to play. Suddenly, critics and doubters alike were left dumbfounded or humbled, maybe even a combination of the two.

VCU was left off most, if not all, lists of Cinderella-story potentials. While Belmont was taking most of the glory for that plotline — until the Bruins lost their first tournament game to Wisconsin — the Rams were playing hard in their First Four game against USC.

And one 59-46 victory later, VCU found its way into the second round with the daunting task at hand of facing the Big East’s Georgetown. The Rams once again played with the motivation to prove themselves and downed the Hoyas almost too easily by an 18-point margin.

By the time VCU reached the tournament’s list of 32, people had begun to catch on to what the NCAA had seen all along as a team with serious potential.

Then, the Rams met Purdue. A heavily favored Big Ten contender and a No. 3 seed, the Boilermakers were supposed to end VCU’s run, just like Georgetown couldn’t.

Six Rams scored in double-digits that day, led by forward Bradford Burgess, who put 23 points up for the city of Richmond. VCU had done it. By scoring the most points on the Boilermakers of anyone in the entire 2010-11 season, the Rams took down Purdue, 94-76.

With the win, the No. 11 seed has worked its way into the 'Sweet 16' for the first time in school history. Some even predict the possibility of a national title.

Finally, people are nodding their heads in agreement with the NCAA selection committee — the very same group that had to defend the Rams’ 'Big Dance' nod just hours after this year’s brackets were revealed. VCU is done proving themselves.

Where the team goes from here is up to the Rams — and Friday night’s matchup against Florida State is the first stop.

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