The Southwest Region of the 2011 NCAA Tournament Bracket is the most upset-ravaged of them all. Can VCU, the only team with two wins through the Second Round of this March Madness, put another jagged line on the 2011 NCAA Tournament schedule with a win over Purdue? We'll find out at 7:10 p.m. Eastern from Chicago with Spiro Dedes and Bob Wenzel on the call for TBS.
The Boilermakers have been one of the less-discussed elite teams in college basketball all season; thank Robbie Hummel's torn ACL for that. But Purdue has been quietly excellent all year, and housed St. Peter's 65-43 in the Second Round. Seniors E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson key the Boilers, who look to one or the other on more than half of their offensive possessions. And Purdue's defense has been superb, only allowing more than 70 points in one nightmarish trip to Columbus to play Ohio State. Fun wrinkle: if Purdue and Richmond meet in the Elite Eight, it will be a rematch of a game from last November ... that the Spiders won.
Virginia Commonwealth's path to this point has been a bit rockier. The Rams beat USC in Dayton, then throttled Georgetown in the Second Round, and will be the only team playing three games in six days this week. That's not to say that Shaka Smart's team and his "havoc" system won't be enough, though: despite losing five of their last eight in the regular season, VCU has gotten red hot in the postseason, claiming four wins (three by double digits over George Mason, USC, and Georgetown) in five games, and losing only to an Old Dominion team that took Butler to the buzzer. If Brandon Rozzell and Joey Rodriguez can force turnovers and come away with steals, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Rams play their way into the Sweet Sixteen.
Star Watch: Rodriguez, an undersized point guard, is not the straw that stirs VCU's drink (that's talented forward Jamie Skeen), but when he has it going from distance, the Rams win: when Rodriguez has hit three or more threes in a game this year, VCU has won.
Prediction: VCU's storybook run nearly gets the ending Smart and his squad want, but Purdue is just a little too big and a little too deep for the upstart Rams, winning 69-64.
Need help picking your bracket? Check out SB Nation's full 2011 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions, picking every game of March Madness, or our region by region breakdowns for the East Region, West Region, Southeast Region, and Southwest Region.
Did your team miss the 2011 NCAA Tournament? We have you covered: check out the 2011 NIT bracket.