On February 26, the James Madison men's basketball team ended its regular season with a 72-69 win over Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond.
Since then, the two teams have gone in decidedly different directions.
The Dukes' season ended with losses in their next two games, a 72-68 upset by 11-seed William & Mary in the first round of the CAA tournament, followed by an 85-65 blowout at Davidson in Round 1 of the CBI tournament.
VCU entered the CAA tournament as the league's four-seed, but advanced to the title game before losing to Old Dominion. The Rams then made the the NCAA Tournament as an at-large 11-seed, knocked off USC in the inaugural "First Four" opening round, and haven't looked back.
On Saturday, they'll face Butler in the Final Four in Houston.
"It's been fascinating, quite frankly," JMU coach Matt Brady said Tuesday of the Rams' run.
"It's just different, seeing them on that stage on a consistent basis now," said junior forward Julius Wells. "But we all knew all year long that VCU was a good team, and we have other good teams in this league. They're just showing the world what we can do."
"I've said all during the course of the year that outside of the BCS conferences, the 'Big 6' conferences, that we were as good as any conference in America," agreed Brady. "And now I think everybody is starting to figure this out."
Brady hopes VCU's success, and his team's success against the Rams, will motivate his players this offseason.
"Maybe that's the best thing for us, with VCU going to the Final Four, is that our guys feel like if they can do it then we can do it," he said. "Because we feel like we're as good as them."
"It was just a regular season win. I wouldn't brag about it. It was just a win over a good team," admitted Wells. "We're just glad they're doing what they're doing. We're just rooting them on now."
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