(The Spread) – With the 2011 NCAA Tournament set to resume again on Thursday, let’s take a look at the long shots that remain in this year’s March Madness.
In this year’s Sweet 16, there are three No. 1 seeds left, three No. 2s, two No. 3s, two No. 4s, one No. 5 and one No. 8. Many people expected some of those teams to reach this point, but what about the long shots? Out of No. 10 Florida State, No. 11 Marquette, No. 11 VCU and No. 13 Richmond, which team stands the best shot of making the Final Four?
First, let’s take a look at the matchups. Marquette and Richmond will seemingly have the toughest time reaching the Final Four because they take on No. 2 North Carolina (although the Tar Heels nearly lost to seventh-seeded Washington, so maybe they’re prime for an upset) and No. 1 Kansas, respectively. VCU and Florida State play each other in the Southwest, so we know at least one of those teams will make it into the Great 8. (We also know that one of those teams will be eliminated from this discussion.)
Historically speaking, 7% of No.10 seeds advance to Round 4 of the tournament, while 4% of No. 11 seeds play behind the Sweet 16. No 13th-seed has ever reached the fourth round and as a group, they’re 0-4 in the Sweet 16. Knowing that, it’s a little easier to eliminate the feel-good Richmond Spiders from this discussion.
That leaves VCU, Florida State and Marquette. What’s interesting is that of the 7% of No. 10 seeds that advance to Round 4, none of them have reached the Semis. Of the 4% of No. 11 seeds that advanced to Round 4, 2% made it into the Final Four.
With that in mind, I like the VCU Rams. Of all the teams left in the Southwest Region, VCU had the toughest two matchups to this point. The Rams crushed Georgetown (74-56) and Purdue (94-76), while also beating USC in the play-in game when few believed they would advance past the “First Four” games. If it plays as well as it did against the Hoyas and Boilermakers, there’s no reason VCU can’t get past FSU.
Of course if that happens, the Rams’ most likely opponent in the Great 8 is the previously mentioned Kansas (who was damn near perfect this year at 34-2). Can the Rams beat the Jayhawks? Let’s just take this one game at a time, shall we? Oddsmakers from online sports book Bodog.com currently list VCU at 65/1 to win the entire tournament, so let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about long shots here.