Is VCU the biggest Cinderella story in March Madness history?

The Virginia Commonwealth Rams knocked off Kansas in this NCAA basketball tournament's most stunning upset. Is theirs the best underdog story ever?

Head Coach Shaka Smart and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams celebrate an unprecedented win, after their Sunday victory over Kansas solidified their spot in the NCAA tournament's Final Four.
(Image credit: Getty)

This year's NCAA tournament has been packed with improbable upsets — of the 5.9 million people who filled out brackets in ESPN's contest, only two correctly picked the Final Four. Exemplifying this lack of predictability, Virginia Commonwealth University on Sunday managed a shocking 71-61 victory over Kansas, who'd been considered the championship favorite after other powerhouses fell. VCU's run is particularly impressive because they were one of the eight teams that had to compete in a pre-tournament "play-in game" to even make it into the 64-team field. Commentators are comparing them to George Mason's 2006 team, which also made the final four as a #11 seed. But is this squad's underdog story even better? (Watch VCU students celebrate the win)

Yes. This was highly, highly improbable: "In a competition famous for its upsets, the Rams having made it to Houston may be the most unlikely occurrence in the history of the tournament," says Nate Silver at The New York Times, who listed the Rams as an 820-1 underdog to make the Final Four going into tournament play. Beyond the fact that the Rams had to play one more game than most other teams, they simply weren't considered any good. "Many commentators, from statheads to traditionalists, had objected to their being in the tournament field in the first place." Statistically speaking, only two teams in NCAA history — Villanova in 1985 and Pennsylvania in 1979 — can compete with VCU in terms of improbability.

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