Who: Champions of the Midwest region in MTV's Musical March Madness tournament, [artist id="1191782"]Muse[/artist] roll into the Final Four with a whole lot of momentum at their British backs, having knocked off a murderers' row of rock-radio heavies just to make it to this point. Sort of a stripped-down version of Michigan's famed Fab Five (since, you know, there are only three of them), Muse mauled the competition with a game that's equal parts finesse and pound-n-ground, highlighted by the fleet-fingered shredding and multi-octave range of guitarist/frontman Matthew Bellamy and the pummeling, precise combo of drummer Dominic Howard and bassist Christopher Wolstenholme, perhaps the best frontcourt in the tourney.
How They Got Here: Muse faced perhaps the toughest road to the Final Four, entering the tournament as a #2 seed, then facing a baptism of fire in their first round matchup against seasoned vets the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Muse eeked out a 51-49 victory, but things didn't get any easier from there, as they were pitted against rock-radio brutes Breaking Benjamin in the round of 32. They won a tightly contested 53-47 battle, then advanced to the Sweet 16, where they took down upset-minded AFI by the same score. Their easiest matchup came in the Elite Eight, where they pounded the fourth-seeded White Stripes, perhaps showing that they're rounding into top form at precisely the right time.
The Outlook: Like we said, Muse are hitting their stride, and they'll make for a tough out in the Final Four. They command a rather ginormous international fanbase, and, after years of grinding it out, they've finally broken through stateside, too. Last year's The Resistance debuted at #3 on the Billboard albums chart (their highest U.S. bow ever), selling an impressive 128,000 copies, and their song "Uprising" is a rock-radio mainstay, having hung around on the charts for 34 weeks now. Plus, after besting the likes of the Chili Peppers and AFI, Muse are battle tested, which means we wouldn't bet against them at this point. The only downside? They'll go up against My Chemical Romance in the Final Four, which might prove to be too tough a matchup for even the mighty men of Muse.
Throughout the day, we'll be breaking down the four bands still standing in MTV's Musical March Madness tournament. Voting on the Final Four opens Friday on the Newsroom blog and runs until Sunday night.