This is a Final Four nobody saw coming.
Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth — the improbable, the implausible, the unthinkable and the downright unimaginable.
In one game in Houston next Saturday, No. 4 seed Kentucky will play No. 3 Connecticut — not an absurd Final Four matchup.
In the other game will be No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth – a team that was panned when its name was called on Selection Sunday – and No. 8 Butler, the defending national runner-up from a 4,500-student campus whose amazing success story had supposedly run its course.
“It never gets old,” Bulldogs senior Matt Howard said.
Nor does the NCAA tournament. Anything goes. Anyone can win.
Four teams with a combined 37 losses and a winning percentage of .755, second lowest since 1985.
Four teams whose combined seeding equals 26, breaking the record of 22 in 2000.
Not a single No. 1 seed for only the third time since seeding began in 1979 and the first time that no 1 or 2 seed will be there.
ESPN, which sponsors one of the country’s biggest bracket tournaments, said that out of 5.9 million entries, only two had this foursome making its way to Houston. President Barack Obama? He went 0-for-4.
Kentucky is the new favorite in Vegas, at 8-5. VCU is listed at 7-1 — the longshot in the field, but still quite a bit better than 2,500-1, which is where the Rams were listed at the start of the season.
“I think what it does as much as anything, it just puts a spin on the NCAA tournament,” said Kansas coach Bill Self after his top-seeded team lost, 71-61, to VCU. “It’s wild. ... Because seeds are so overrated. It’s about matchups. And their players could play for us any day.”
Tennessee hired Cuonzo Martin to take over a program facing NCAA punishment for recruiting violatiions. He comes from Missouri State, where he was the Missouri Valley Conference coach of the year after leading the Bears to a 26-9 record. He replaces Bruce Pearl, who was fired March 21. Richmond coach Chris Mooney signed a 10-year contract extension with the Spiders after leading them to the NCAA round of 16.