The Butler Bulldogs are in an odd position. For once, they are in a high-profile game where their opponent is more unheralded than they are.
Before the tournament, many observers labeled the Virginia Commonwealth Rams as an athletic team that can surprise some teams. But Shaka Smart's squad has surprised basically everyone, finding themselves with a legitimate chance to become national champions when they face Butler at Reliant Stadium in Houston, tonight.
The Rams have gone as far as they have thanks to their success from beyond the arc. VCU has converted 44 percent of their three-pointers in the tournament and have 895 3-pointers this season.
They're also succeeding with defense. VCU has held their tournament opponents to a mere 39 percent field goal percentage this season.
If you want evidence of how VCU has gotten this far, check out what they did to sixth-seed Georgetown's top scorer Austin Freeman. The high-scoring guard was limited to just three field goals off 14 attempts.
VCU's detractors certainly can't use the argument that the Rams squeaked their way into the Final Four. Only the Florida State Seminoles kept the loss margin within single digits in VCU's five tournament games.
Though the Rams have beaten some tough competition in the tournament in USC, Georgetown, Florida State, and Kansas, they certainly don't have a slouch in Butler.
The Bulldogs went to the Final last season and came within two points of beating Duke.
This season, Brad Stevens's team needed some close calls to escape past Old Dominion and Pittsburgh where the came down to the last shot of the game. Against Wisconsin, the Bulldogs had a 20 point lead before the Badgers mounted a comeback, but Butler was able to hold on.
In Butler's last game, they needed overtime to overcome Florida. The game extend the Bulldogs' winning streak to 13 games.
The Bulldogs play fundamental basketball, and their tough defense rattles opponents. Combined their strong focus with their experience last season, and it seems surprising that Butler wasn't considered one of the favorites going into the tournament.
With their two young coaches (Smart and Stevens are both under the age of 35), this matchup has two up-and-coming coaches for two up-and-coming programs.
VCU is led by senior forward Jamie Skeen who is coming off a 26-point performance against Kansas. Butler is led by blue-collar foward Matt Howard who has scored 14 points or better in the tournament.
Both teams have been dogged by experts who have underestimated them. That's all thrown out the window tonight.