March 22, 2011
Monday's front-page headline in the Richmond Times-Dispatch read "Hoopstown, U.S.A." It was no exaggeration.
Thanks to VCU and the University of Richmond, Virginia's state capital has more teams in the Sweet 16 than any other city in America, a number of major conferences and 46 entire states. Not bad for the fourth-biggest town in a state not generally known for college basketball prowess.
• Richmond has more teams playing in the tournament than the entire Pac 10 and Big 12, and the same amount of teams as the Big 10, SEC, Big East and Mountain West. Only the ACC has more schools still alive.
• VCU and Richmond are located closer to each other than noted Tobacco Road rivals Duke and North Carolina. It's a short 15-minute drive to get from Richmond's suburban campus to VCU's downtown location. The trip from Durham to Chapel Hill takes a few minutes longer.
• Richmond's population is 202,000, making it the 103rd-largest city in the country. Cities with larger populations include: Hialeah, Fla., Chula Vista, Calif., Gilbert, Ariz., Fort Wayne, Ind., and North Las Vegas, Nev.
Improbable as it may seem, if Richmond and VCU win their games against Kansas and Florida State, respectively, the schools would meet on Sunday for a chance to go to the Final Four. The last time a double-digit seed went that far was in 2006 when George Mason made its magical run through the NCAA tournament.
Maybe it's a Virginia thing.