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March 29, 2011

NCAA ‘March Madness’ Final Four is Surprising

For college basketball fans, March Madness 2011 has truly been chaotic. Going into the Final Four competition this Saturday in Houston, 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth University, VCU, who defeated top seed Kansas is only the third No. 11 seed ever to make it that far.

They’ll face off against eight seed Butler University, last year’s runner-up for the national championship. An improbable Cinderella-vs.-Cinderella match, VCU and Butler are the two lowest seeds to meet in the semifinals in tournament history.

Next weekend’s other game is a battle of unlikely Goliaths, as No. 4 Kentucky, who defeated higher-ranked North Carolina, takes on No. 3 Connecticut. For the first time in tournament history, no No. 1 or No. 2 seed will play in the semifinals, and only the third college basketball semifinal without a single No. 1 seed, since that ranking system began in 1979.

In the women’s tournament, No. 1 UConn is the back-to-back reigning NCAA champs, and have only lost one game in two years. Maya Moore is their standout player as the all-time leading scorer in UConn history. The No. 2 seed is Baylor with their own dominate star in Brittney Griner. While the upsets have continued in the Men’s tournament, one thing is for sure, expect the unexpected as March Madness comes to a close.

Quotes

“Once again, we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into the game, but these guys believed we could win. They knew we could win. And we talked before the game about how nobody else really matters, what they think. And that’s really been our theme throughout the NCAA tournament, since we were selected.” Shaka Smart, VCU Men’s Basketball Coach

“And Griner is almost changing the women’s game. She’s 6’8” tall. She’s a shot-blocker. She has an outside shot. She’s really bringing a new dimension to the women’s game. And people love it that she can throw down some dunks in these games. And she’s really revved up the crowd.” Maggie Gray, Sports Illustrated

Warm Up Questions

1.What does NCAA stand for?

2.How many teams compete in the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournament?

3.Which team won the 2010 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball tournament?

Discussion Questions

1.How are college basketball teams ranked for the NCAA tournament?

2.Why do you think people are so surprised that a No. 11 and No. 8 seed team have made it to the Final Four?

3.Why do you think the NCAA tournament expanded from 65 to 68 teams for the tournament?

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