- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2011

All the top seeds have gone home, all the “smart money” is down the tubes and millions of brackets are in the trash.

Even in the unpredictable world of March Madness, this is a Final Four nobody could have imagined.

Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth fill out a Final Four that, by most ways of looking at it, is the most unimaginable in the history of an NCAA tournament that has never lacked surprises.

In one game in Houston on Saturday, No. 4 seed Kentucky will play No. 3 Connecticut. In the other, it will be No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth against No. 8 Butler.

“Seeds are so overrated,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, stating the obvious after his top-seeded team lost 71-61 to VCU on Sunday. “It’s about matchups. And their players could play for us any day.”

Kentucky emerged from the weekend as the new Vegas favorite, at 8-5. VCU is 7-1 _ the longshot again, though nowhere near the 2,500-1 pick it was back when the season started.

Indeed, as this year’s tournament proves, there has never been such a razor-thin difference between the supposed power teams and the ones they’re supposed to beat.

This Final Four includes:

_Four teams with a combined 37 losses and a combined winning percentage of .755, second lowest since 1985.

_Four teams whose combined seeding equals 26, breaking the record of 22 in 2000.

_Not a single No. 1 seed for only the third time since seeding began in 1979.

_Not a single No. 1 or No. 2 for the first time.

No surprise then, that out of the 5.9 million entries in the ESPN bracket contest, only two had this foursome making its way to Houston. Did they go on a hunch? Or just tie on a blindfold and throw darts at the bracket?

“Once again, we felt like nobody really thought we could win going into the game,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “But these guys believed we could win. They knew we could win. And we talked before the game about how nobody else really matters, what they think. And that’s our theme throughout the NCAA tournament since we were selected.”

The Rams (28-11) are the third No. 11 seed to make the Final Four and the first since George Mason in 2006, also of the Colonial Athletic Association. But they’re the first team that will need to win seven games _ not the usual six _ to make it all the way through the NCAA tournament. They were one of the last at-large teams to make the newfangled 68-team field. They’ve traveled the road from the “First Four” _ an extra, opening round that was added as part of the NCAA’s new $10.8 billion TV deal _ to the Final Four.

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