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March Madness 2018: Four teams with the easiest path to the Final Four

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March Madness 2018: Four teams with the easiest path to the Final Four

It is one thing to get to the NCAA Tournament; it is another to advance from round to round.

The championship bracket is built to make certain paths to the Final Four easier for teams ranked higher up each respective region. Each No. 1 seed is supposed to have relatively a similar path to the most important weekend of the tournament compared to each other.

Not all seeds though are created equally, even if they read the same.

Not convinced? Which No. 10 seed would everyone want to face? Texas, Butler, Oklahoma, or Providence. No one wants the Friars, and most would want the reeling Sooners.

Even from seed line to seed line there is some discrepancies.

It is common knowledge that it is just as likely a No. 12 seed is going to upset the No. 5 seed as a No. 11 seed is to upset a No. 6. Nearly every season there is one double digit seed that is going to be in the Sweet 16. Rarely do we have a Final Four of exclusively No. 1 seeds.

Some paths to getting to the final four are easier than others. Look at Gonzaga a season ago compared to North Carolina.

Aside from the No. 1 seeds (who are supposed to have the easiest paths) here who is also has a relatively clean route to get to the Final Four. Also notice that none of these teams are from the Midwest.

RELATED: DARKHORSE PICKS TO MAKE THE FINAL FOUR

No. 2 Cincinnati (30-4, 16-2 AAC)

Final Four Path: South; No. 15 Georgia State, No. 7 Nevada, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 1 Virginia

After just winning the American Tournament Championship, there is no better team in a position to make a run to the Final Four. Even though they are a No. 2 seed, and it may be considered cheating, it is hard not penciling these guys going far and being the South’s representative in the Final Four.

Moving past their First Round opponent, the Bearcats will be lined up with either Nevada or Texas for the right to get into the Sweet 16. Now the Wolfpack are really good team and some may pick them to knock off Cincinnati, but the bottom line is Nevada is down a player (Lindsey Drew) and has a question mark on another (Kendall Stephens).

After that it is likely Tennessee, probably the least tested of all of the No. 3 seeds, and then No. 1 Virginia. The Cavaliers may not even make it this far because their style of basketball has not done them any favors in previous tournaments. If Kentucky or Arizona do not knock off Virginia, then Cincinnati definitely has the personnel themselves.

RELATED: NINE FIRST-ROUND UPSETS TO PICK

No. 5 Ohio State (24-8, 15-3 Big Ten)

Final Four Path: West; No. 12 South Dakota State, No. 4 Gonzaga, No. 1 Xavier, No. 2 North Carolina

Ohio State is a wildcard in this tournament. Falling down the ladder at the very end of the Big Ten conference play, the Buckeyes slipped to a No. 5 seed.

Assuming they get past their First Round matchup in South Dakota State, it is a relatively easy path for a five seed. Gonzaga is not nearly what they were a year ago, although you cannot count out a run from a Mark Few team in March. Gonzaga is from the West Coast Conference and is not as battle tested as Ohio State was this year. While many will point to a 27-point loss back on Nov. 11, the Buckeyes are a transformed team since then.

That leaves the bottom No. 1 seed Xavier in their way, followed by North Carolina who has to get past potentially Providence and Michigan. The three of the hottest teams in the country will battle it out in the bottom half of the bracket.  

NCAA TOURNAMENT: NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP BETTING ODDS

No. 2 Purdue (28-6, 15-3 Big Ten)

Final Four Path: East; No. 15 Cal State Fullerton, No. 7 Arkansas, No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 1 Villanova

The bottom half of the East region has to be the widest open of all the NCAA Tournament. Purdue and Texas Tech should just float to their destined Sweet 16 contest.

Heck the one team, outside of these two that looks the best from this section of the draw is a team playing in the First Four. St. Bonaventure as a No. 11 seed is the third best team in the bottom half of the East.

If they were to get past Texas Tech, that will leave No. 1 Villanova as the last team left on their path to the Final Four. That is assuming the Wildcats get past a dangerous Alabama/ Virginia Tech opponent in the Second Round.

RELATED: FULL FIRST-ROUND TV SCHEDULE

No. 5 West Virginia (24-10, 11-7 Big 12)

Final Four Path: East; No. 12 Murray State, No. 4 Wichita State, No. 1 Villanova, No. 2 Purdue

West Virginia is in the same boat as Purdue. They have the chance to take advantage of a real weak section of the bracket; the top half of the East. While they may be caught in a snake hole with their 5-12 matchup with Murray State, the rest of their opponents may be picked away on their way to the Final Four. At the very least, their opponents will be coming off tough outs.

There is no guarantee that the Shockers get past their No. 13 seed opponent Marshall, who will be deadly with the pace of play they have. There is no guarantee that Villanova can get past Virginia Tech or Alabama. Which, the Virginia Tech/ Alabama First Round matchup should have an over-under of 200 points.

West Virginia could just waltz to the Elite Eight with only Texas Tech or Purdue standing in their way.

 

Click here to join NBC Sports Washington’s NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge and compete against Tony Massenburg and Walt Williams for a chance to win big.

Grand Prize: f you have the highest-scoring bracket in the NBC Sports Washington Bracket Challenge, you will win four (4) lower Wizards tickets to the 4/10 Celtics @ Wizards game, an autographed Bradley Beal jersey and a 60” 4K TV!

Secondary Prize: If your bracket scores higher than both Tony Massenburg and Walt Williams, you'll get a coupon code for a free regular Jersey Mike's sub!

 

WANT MORE COLLEGE HOOPS? 

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Miami vs. Virginia Tech time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Miami vs. Virginia Tech time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Virginia Tech welcomes Miami to Cassell Coliseum on Wednesday night, looking to avenge a 71-61 January loss to the Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Miami is chasing a three-game winning streak to improve its seed for the ACC tournament.

Despite both teams having good victories on their respective ledgers, the Hokies and Hurricans have both largely struggled this season and find themselves among a crowded middle of the ACC standings. 

There are currently nine ACC teams — including Virginia Tech (6-8) and Miami (5-10) that have a conference record between 5-10 and 7-7, meaning that just 2.5 games separate the fifth spot and 13th position. The Hokies and Huricanes have five games left in the regular season to improve its spot in the ACC tournament, and that starts with Wednesday night's matchup.

Forward Landers Nolley II leads Virginia Tech into this game with 17.2 points per game, and Miami guard Chris Lykes (15.2 points per game) gets his first chance against the Hokies this season after missing the January matchup.

Here's everything you need to know to catch Wednesday night's ACC action.

Miami vs. Virginia Tech: How to Watch

Who: Miami Hurricanes (13-12, 5-10 ACC) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (15-10, 6-8 ACC)
What: ACC basketball on NBC Sports Washington
When: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 9 p.m. ET. 
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
TV Channel: You can watch Miami vs. Virginia Tech on NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NCAA NEWS:

VCU's upset bid falls short as No. 5 Dayton earns 15th straight win

VCU's upset bid falls short as No. 5 Dayton earns 15th straight win

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Jalen Crutcher scored 18 points and No. 5 Dayton held off a late challenge and beat VCU 66-61 on Tuesday night, the Flyers' 15th consecutive victory.

Odi Toppin added 12 points and Trey Landers 11 for the Flyers (24-2, 13-0 Atlantic 10). They were the highest-ranked team ever to play on VCU's home floor.

VCU (17-9, 7-6) closed to within one possession several times in the last seven minutes, the last on Vince Williams' putback with 27 seconds left, but Dwayne Cohill made a pair of free throws with 22.4 seconds left and the Flyers held on.

Nah'Shon Hyland led VCU with 18 points and Marcus Santos-Silva had 12 points and 17 rebounds, but VCU lost for the fourth time in its last five games.

The Rams used an 8-1 run to get within 52-50 with 6:18 left, but Dayton converted six of eight free throws to rebuild the lead to 58-51. Malik Crowfield's 3-pointer and a free throw by De'Riante Jenkins pulled the Rams within 58-55, but Toppin scored inside and added a free throw.

BIG PICTURE

Dayton: The Flyers were shooting well about 50% for most of the game before a dry spell in the second half that included a pair of ill-advised 3-point tries by Crutcher and Landers. They finished 19 for 42, 45.2%.

VCU: The Rams played without point guard Marcus Evans, their top passer and No. 3 scorer. Evans aggravated a left knee injury in VCU's loss to Richmond last Saturday.

UP NEXT

The Flyers are at home against Duquesne on Saturday.

VCU is on the road at Saint Louis on Friday.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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