(1) Kansas vs. (11) VCU
(1) Kansas Jayhawks
Top-seeded Kansas opened up an early lead on Richmond in the semi-final game of the Southwest Region and never looked back, eliminating the Spiders on the strength of a suffocating defense that allowed Richmond to shoot just 22-65 (.338) from the field and 4-26 (.154) from behind the three-point line. Brady Morningstar had a team-high 18 points, on 7-11 (.636) shooting, while chipping in four assists and sophomore forward Thomas Robinson had 12 points and 14 rebounds in just 16 minutes of action to help propel Kansas to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2008, when the Jayhawks won the national title. Twin brothers Markieff and Marcus Morris have provided Coach Bill Self with a dominant interior duo which is averaging a combined 30 points and 17.7 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas has allowed its opponents just 56.3 points per game in the Big Dance, while showing off its ability to not only defend, but score, at a high level. The Jayhawks depth and versatility will be a tough match-up for any team they might face.
(11) Virginia Commonwealth Rams
It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of the college basketball world was up in arms about the fact that Virginia Commonwealth received an at-large bid into the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Now, Coach Shaka Smart’s team is in the Elite Eight, playing for a shot at the programs’ first trip to the Final Four. VCU has shot its way through the first four rounds (the Rams beat Southern California in the first round) of the tournament, knocking down nearly 43 percent of its shots from behind the three-point line as a team. Despite a dip in productivity throughout VCU’s shocking run to the Elite Eight from senior forward Jamie Skeen, the Rams’ offensive attack has been powered by guards Bradford and Brandon Rozzell, who have both seen a significant statistical up-tick. VCU will have to limit Kansas’ offensive possessions and continue to knock down looks from beyond the arc to have a chance at up-ending the Kansas Jayhawks.
HOOPSWORLD’s Pick: Kansas. It has been a magical run for VCU, but the depth, balance and overall talent of this Kansas team is simply too much for the Rams to overcome.