Thursday was a day full of 'chalk.' Every top seeded team had run away with victory. That is, until 12 seed VCU–and last year's Final Four Cinderella story–knocked out 5 seeded Wichita State 62-59 on Thursday evening.
VCU head coach Shaka Smart led his Rams to one of the most storied runs in NCAA history last season, when they took wins over Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas. The Rams were just the third No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four, eventually losing to Butler, the national runner-up.
In all of those games there had been a big play. Thursday's big play came from Brandon Burgess, who nailed a 3-pointer with just 1:33 to play.
"We have different guys doing different things than last year's team," Burgess said. "We want to make our own mark on this year's tournament."
WSU's Garrett Stutz jacked up a desperate, awkward 3-pointer at the buzzer in an attempt to tie the game, but the ball never came close to the bottom of the net.
"I was kind of the last option on top, and VCU read the play well," Stutz said. "By the time I got the ball, I knew there wasn't enough time to go for a two. Couldn't have been more than two or three seconds left."
No doubt VCU did a great job playing defense down the stretch, even though they had given up a large lead. It wasn't at all a tight game mid-way through, as the Rams (29-6) led Wichita State (26-6) by as many as 13 in the second half.
"Our guys did a good job executing our defensive plan," Smart said of those final seconds. "They didn't get a good look at a 3, and that's what won it for us."
#12 VCU 62
#5 Wichita St 59
VCU will play No. 4 Indiana on Saturday for the right to go to the Sweet 16.
Other final scores from the South Region on Thursday
While South Dakota State gave Baylor a scare, it was Colorado with the other upset of the night with their takedown of UNLV. Colorado plays No. 3 Baylor on Saturday.
#16 W Kentucky 66
#1 Kentucky 81
#14 S Dakota State 60
#3 Baylor 68
#9 Connecticut 64
#8 Iowa St 77
#13 New Mexico St 66
#4 Indiana 79
#11 Colorado 68
#6 UNLV 64
Friday's Games To Watch
Ten seed Xavier takes on 7 seed Notre Dame in a Big East / Atlantic Ten clash. Both teams have endured some unfortunate circumstances this season and both didn't look like tournament teams earlier in the year. Xavier was involved in a brawl, and Notre Dame lost their best player to injury. With Xavier being a popular upset pick, this game could go back and forth until the final seconds.
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