The two universities sit five miles apart, one amid the manicured grass of the suburbs and the other rising from the concrete of the city.
They are connected by a boulevard dotted with large monuments to Confederate generals. And now, they find themselves linked as part of the most unlikely story of this year’s N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament.
The University of Richmond, seeded No. 12, and Virginia Commonwealth University, seeded No. 11, have defied the odds and made it to the Round of 16, joining predictable heavyweights like Ohio State and Kansas.
As a result, the city of Richmond, the capital of a state normally filled with rabid football fans, is suddenly a place known for basketball. More unusual things have probably happened in Richmond’s history, but maybe not many.