11) Virginia Commonwealth Rams versus 8) Butler Bulldogs
Projected Winner (Pomeroy): Butler (70-68) 55%
This game could be extremely close. It’s a pair of evenly matched teams, each with one solid big man (Jamie Skeen vs. Matt Howard) and one real offensive focal point (Shelvin Mack vs. Joey Rodriguez). What leans me more towards Butler at this point is that I think VCU’s style can be prepared for. Remember that Florida State gave them an overtime game once they got to prepare for them all week—they were the first team in the tournament that got more than a few days to concoct a game plan against the Rams. Butler goes eight deep as well—fatigue should not be an issue in the up-and-down style that VCU likes to run.
But I guess what really sticks out is that I just don’t think the Rams will keep hitting their three-pointers. When you are an 820-1 underdog, just about everything has to go right for you to reach the Final Four. One of those things? Going from shooting 37% behind the three-point line in the regular season to 48% against Kansas, 46% against Florida State, and a 48% against Georgetown. This isn’t on an inconsequential amount of shots either; the Rams actively camp out from behind that three-point line and take 20-25 shots per game there.
Could I see the Rams winning? Absolutely. Especially if Bradford Burgess continues to step up and be a big part of the offensive game plan. But ultimately I just don’t think theres anyone left to catch off-guard. Brad Stephens will have Bulter on notice, and while the Bulldogs probably don’t have the pure talent to run away with the game, I’d expect a comfortable five or six point margin as the game ends, with Butler moving on to face the winner of Kentucky and Connecticut.