The Kentucky Wildcats, Connecticut Huskies, VCU Rams and Butler Bulldogs have all peaked at the right time, advancing to the Final Four by working their way through the four regions of the NCAA Tournament bracket while avoiding pitfalls along the way. For two teams -- Butler and VCU -- that meant playing every game as the underdog, defeating teams that were, on paper, better than their own. For UConn and Kentucky, it meant playing with a bullseye on their backs for much of the tournament, and surviving many of those upset-minded teams. When the first two weekends were over, these four survived and advanced in the bracket, earning a trip to Houston for the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
So how did they do it? If we knew, we'd probably all be rich NCAA coaches. But we can give a look back at the bracket and results to show who each team beat en route to the Final Four, and what it's taken to become the NCAA's elite in 2011.
It all began with the First Four, the name for the NCAA Tournament's new round as part of the expansion to 68, back during the week of March 14. 62 games and three weeks later, we've gone from First Four to Final Four, with only three games remaining until the 2011 NCAA Champion is crowned.
No. 4 Kentucky def No. 2 UNC, 76-69
No. 3 Connecticut Huskies def. No. 5 Arizona Wildcats, 65-63 OT
No. 11 VCU Rams def. No. 1 Kansas, 71-61
No. 8 Butler def. No. 2 Florida, 74-71
No. 4 Kentucky def. No. 1 Ohio State, 62-60
No. 2 UNC vs. No. 11 Marquette, 81-63
No. 5 Arizona Wildcats def. No. 1 Duke Blue Devils, 93-77
No. 3 Connecticut Huskies def. No. 2 San Diego State, 74-67
No. 1 Kansas def. No. 12 Richmond Spiders, 77-55
No. 11 VCU Rams def. No. 10 Florida State Seminoles, 72-71 OT
No. 8 Butler def. No. 4 Wisconsin, 61-54
No. 2 Florida def. No. 3 BYU. Thursday, 84-73