After going from the First Four to the Final Four, Virginia Commonwealth University has become the darling of the 2011 tournament and Shaka Smart has become a household name. Their run has been incredible and I have been as impressed with them as anyone else.
But let’s get something clear, this run should have never happened. VCU did not deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. They didn’t. Not over Colorado. Not over Virginia Tech. Not over St. Mary’s. They were not one of the best at-large candidates: plain and simple.
Some people will mock the ESPN analysts like Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale for lambasting the Selection Committee for their VCU pick on Selection Sunday. But they were right. Sure, Dickie V will start apologizing and saying he was wrong because he is a kiss-ass. But he shouldn’t backtrack. VCU didn’t beat nearly as many good opponents as the other at-large candidates. They had very bad losses (Georgia State!). And they ended the season 3-5 in their last 8 games.
“But look at what VCU did in the tournament! They beat five power conference teams from five different conferences! They beat Kansas!”
The question isn’t whether they could compete and win games in the tournament. The question is whether they proved during the course of the regular season if they were one of the best at-large candidates and deserving of an NCAA bid. And they didn’t. Who’s to say that Colorado, Virginia Tech, St. Mary’s, or any other candidate couldn’t have reached the Final Four? They all could have. But we’ll never know because VCU took their spot. Undeservingly.