One team wasn't on anyone's radar when the 2011 NCAA Tournament began. The other was getting plenty of attention for all the wrong reasons. Tonight the two teams meet to determine who will advance to the Elite 8.
It isn't that often that you get to the Sweet 16 as a No. 10 seed and are the lower seed in a showdown with the Elite 8 appearance on the line. That is the situation the Florida State Seminoles fine themselves in. There are plenty of storylines in this one other than the seedings.
Chris Singleton, voted the ACC defensive player of the year by league coaches, is coming off his two best practices since breaking his right foot and undergoing arthroscopic surgery in February. He played in both games of the tournament but should be even better against VCU.
The Seminoles also feature 26-year old Bernard James, who spent 3 years in the Air Force stationed in the Middle East.
As for VCU, they have proven without a doubt that they earned a place in the Tournament. In 2010, it is likely the Rams would have played in the NIT. Now, with the 68-team format, VCU got its chance and has taken advantage of it. They knocked-off USC in the play-in game, then beat Georgetown and Purdue once the real tournament began.
Not bad for a team that didn't hold a selection-show party for fear they wouldn't get selected.
"I saw somebody had us rated 16th out of the 16 teams still left," VCU coach Shaka Smart said, smiling. "I think there's still some people that are doubting, you know, how well we can do down here in San Antonio. ... There's some challenges that we have to battle through. But our guys know what brought us success last week. It's mostly a matter of maintaining that mindset going into this game."
MY PICK: I have to admit, I'll be focused on the Buckeyes, but VCU has built a ton of momentum, and 'ole Mo is hard to stop.
VCU 67 - FSU 63