VCU fans could tell early in the second half their team was struggling against Butler, but the loss was watched by millions of people and the NCAA tournament also broke its viewership record this year. That's a big spotlight for the small school. Gian Macone says even though the loss was painful, the school benefits from its brief time on the national stage.
"This is the new George Mason. Just like the Cinderella story that happened to George Mason a few years ago, this is going to help VCU," Macone says.
A professor at George Mason estimates their school got close to $700 million in free advertising from making it to the Final Four in 2006. Admissions inquiries also spiked 350 percent and its alumni got much more active.
Kelli Burke, who studies social work at VCU, says this puts the Rams on the map.
"I think a lot of people didn't even know who VCU was before the Final Four," Burke says.
VCU lost to Butler who is also considered an underdog, so the two schools will be fighting for the attention of recruits and donors.