Gov. Bob McDonnell opened up his home — the Executive Mansion — to Virginia Commonwealth University’s men’s basketball team Wednesday night.

The Rams, as the whole nation now knows, shot all the way to the Final Four when no one thought they could.

“It’s a great American story,’’ McDonnell (R) said. “We always favor the underdog.”

VCU President Michael Rao, Coach Shaka Smart and players mingled with McDonnell, First Lady Maureen McDonnell and their daughters, Jeanine and Cailin.

McDonnell presented Smart with a signed photograph of his staff standing in front of the Capitol wearing black and gold — VCU colors. Smart gave McDonnell a basketball autographed by all the players.

“We felt during the month of March we became your team,’’ Smart said to the governor.

After the formal festivities, McDonnell took a quiet moment with the young coach who recently agreed to stay at VCU — extending his contract by eights years and hundreds of thousands of dollars

“Thanks for staying,’’ McDonnell said.

“It was an easy decision,’’ Smart replied.