One of the two teams in this Southwest Regional match-up on Sunday afternoon was playing its third NCAA Tournament game in five days, and had many questioning why they were part of the field in the first place. The other finished the regular season as one of the 10 or 12 best teams in America, despite losing in their first game in their conference tournament.
Watching them play today in Chicago, you would have had difficulty telling which one was which.
The Virginia Commonwealth Rams, who were one of the last four at-large teams in the 2011 NCAA Basketball Tournament field, whipped one of the better teams in the Big Ten this afternoon when they beat the Purdue Boilermakers, 94-76, to move on to the Sweet 16 of this year's tournament.
Virginia Commonwealth went into the locker room with a ten-point lead at 42-32, and increased that lead to as much as 20 in the second half, serving to quiet a raucous Purdue crowd at the United Center.
Brandon Burgess led the way for VCU with 25 points, hitting nine of 14 shots, including three out of four from behind the arc. Jamie Skeen scored 13, while Juvonte Reddic and Joey Rodriguez each had 12. Rodriguez threw in 10 assists as well, helping the Rams to have 26 total assists while only turning the ball over four times.
Purdue's loss certainly can't be laid at the feet of JaJuan Johnson, as the Big Ten Player of the Year scored 25 in his final game as a Boilermaker, and also corralled 14 rebounds. Ryne Smith hit six of eight three pointers to finish with 20, but E'Twaun Moore struggled from the field and finished with just 10 points.
This will be the first ever trip to the Sweet 16 for Virginia Commonwealth, who will play the winner of the final game of the Round of 32 between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Florida State Seminoles.
Really tough to see Purdue go out this way, after the way they exceeded expectations after losing Robbie Hummel to another knee injury. Congratulations to the Boilermakers on a successful 2010-11 season.