Kentucky And VCU: Two Unlikely Elite 8 Teams
Who thought that Kentucky and Virginia Commonwealth would be in the Elite 8? Not a lot of people did but as we look up now, both will be playing for a Final Four birth on Sunday. For both of these teams, this was highly unexpected. But for both, they have proved themselves worthy.
Kentucky was thought to have a down year after the great year they had last year. PG John Wall, PG Eric Bledsoe, PF/C Demarcus Cousins, PF Patrick Patterson and backup C Daniel Orton all left school early to enter the draft last year. That alone was thought to devastate this team. But instead of Kentucky going into rebuilding mode, they reloaded. Kentucky brought in PG Brandon Knight, SG Doron Lamb, and PF Terrance Jones. They struggled to win on the road all year as their freshmen along with their veteran players struggled to come together as a team. But, as the season went on, they began to get their rhythm and ended up winning the SEC Tournament. It was to be expected that they would not do as well in the post-season. But with the play of veterans SF Darius Miller,C Josh Harrelson and SF DeAndre Ligglns along with the clutch play of PG Brandon Knight, this Kentucky team has succeeded and surpassed any expectations anyone had for them.
VCU had an up-and-down year this year. At first, plenty of people were ready to crown them the champions of the Colonial Athletic Association. Then, the Rams hit a tough stretch where they were losing to rivals like Old Dominion and were starting to lose it. Plenty doubted that this team would even make the tournament because they failed to win their conference tournament this year. But, luckily for VCU, the tournament committee put them in the tournament. Plenty of people, including me, criticized the committee for even selecting them because they took them over Colorado. Well, apparently the Rams have used that as motivation. F Bradford Burgess and PG Joey Rodriguez have carried the team and have led them to the Elite 8 and shut up plenty of their critics, including me. I owe the Rams an apology. They have definitely proved themselves worthy.
Two teams. Two different scenarios. But two teams with the unquenchable thirst for success despite what many so-called “experts” thought they would be able to accomplish.