NCAA

March Madness 2019: Five teams with the easiest path the Final Four

March Madness 2019: Five teams with the easiest path the Final Four

March Madness lives off of a simple principle that at the start of the month every team in the country could win the National Championship if they win out the rest of their games.

We know that is easier said than done. But, for teams like Oregon, Bradley and Saint Louis it holds true and they still have a chance to win it all. 

Now that the 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket is revealed, we know that not all paths are created equal.

In particular, not all paths to the Final Four are created equal. Of course, we all know that the No. 1 seeds ideally have the best path to make it all the way. Then the No. 2s, 3s, etc. follow.

But again, that is easier said than done. 

These teams, outside of the obvious No. 1 seeds, have the easiest path to make a run to the Final Four.

EAST: No. 2 Michigan State

Potential Path: No. 15 Bradley, No. 7 Louisville, No. 3 LSU, No. 1 Duke

No one in Duke’s quadrant of the bracket will believe that they have a favorable path to the Final Four. However, Duke is a No. 1 seed and not eligible to be considered in this post. 

The Spartans are a hot team. They’ve won five straight (three of which were to top 20 opponents) and 10 of their last 11. Their toughest path, by seed, should be a cakewalk.

Bradley only is in because they upset Loyola-Chicago in the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals. Louisville has only won two games in the past month, both to Notre Dame. LSU is without their head coach.

Outside of their collision with Duke, their side of the East Region should be fine. 

SOUTH: No. 3 Purdue 

Potential Path: No. 14 Old Dominion, No. 6 Villanova, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 1 Virginia

The South is a tricky region with two question mark teams carrying the banner. Virginia has a poor history in the NCAA Tournament under Tony Bennett. Tennessee has benefited from an incredible home court but is a surprising 11-5 outside of their home state.

Not many analysts will be picking those two teams to going far into the tournament. 

Purdue is the next team to fall in line with a beast in Carsen Edwards. 

MIDWEST: No. 4 Kansas

Potential Path: No. 13 Northeastern, No. 5 Auburn, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 2 Kentucky

The Midwest will be a gantlet, which will benefit the Jayhawks. 

SEC Champion Auburn has to face New Mexico State before their potential Second Round clash with Kansas.  Kentucky will have to go through Wofford/ Seton Hall first, and then likely have Houston/ Iowa State next.

Sure, a matchup with North Carolina is never easy if you look ahead to the Sweet 16, but the Midwest Region is in Kansas City.

If Kansas makes it to the Sweet 16, Bill Self’s Jayhawks should be the favorite to make it to the Final Four no matter the opponent.  

WEST: No. 4 Florida State

Potential Path: No. 13 Vermont, No. 5 Marquette, No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Michigan

Florida State is peaking at the right moment and the committee rewarded them with a straightforward path to Minneapolis. 

After dispatching Vermont in the First Round, they’ll have a matchup against either Marquette (with an injured Marcus Howard) or Murray State, who rides through one guy, Ja Morant. 

If you had to take a No. 1 seed to face, you want Gonzaga. Same situation for Michigan when looking at the No. 2 seeds. And that is IF Michigan gets past a bracket with Buffalo, Texas Tech and Nevada.

AND ONE: Kansas State

Potential Path: No. 13 UC Irvine, No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Tennessee

Again, the South holds several question marks. Not many will pick No. 1 Virginia or No. 2 Tennessee to win the region. 

While there is a concern with Dean Wade’s availability for the Wildcats, look at who’s on deck for them. 

Wisconsin lives and dies by Ethan Happ at this point in the year, assuming they get past Pac-12 Champion Oregon. Then we have the same worry about Virginia/ Tennessee as mentioned above.

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Jamion Christian, GW basketball receive commitment from Jameer Nelson's son Jameer Jr.

jameer-nelson-jr-commits.jpg
USA TODAY SPORTS

Jamion Christian, GW basketball receive commitment from Jameer Nelson's son Jameer Jr.

The George Washington University men's basketball team landed the son of longtime NBA point guard Jameer Nelson Tuesday. 

Jameer Nelson Jr., a 2019 guard out of Pennsylvania's Haverford School, decommitted from his father's alma mater (Saint Joseph's) following the news that Phil Martelli would not return for the 2019-20 season. 

This marks first-year head coach Jamion Christian's second commitment since being named head coach of the Colonials after one year at Siena College. 

Nelson Sr. played in the Association from 2004 to 2018, including 10 seasons in Orlando. The point guard averaged a career-best 16.7 points per game during the 2008-09 campaign. 

The 10 moments that defined Zion Williamson's lone year at Duke

The 10 moments that defined Zion Williamson's lone year at Duke

Duke Blue Devils freshman sensation Zion Williamson officially announced on Monday what everyone knew was coming: the 6-6 forward will be foregoing his final three years of collegiate eligibility and declaring for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick. He announced his intention to enter the draft via his Instagram.

While he spent just one year at Duke, and the Blue Devils fell short of expectations when they fell to the Michigan State Spartans in the Elite Eight, Williamson's lone season in a Blue Devils uniform was nothing short of spectacular. 

Here are the 10 most memorable moments from his Duke career, in chronological order.

1. Debuting with a bang.

The then-No. 4 Blue Devils blew out the then-No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats 118-84 in the opening game of the 2018-19 season. All three of Duke's heralded freshman -- Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish -- scored over 20 points in the win. 

Williamson went 11-13 from the field en route to 28 points in just 23 minutes. Barrett finished with 33, and Reddish added 22 as well.

  

The dynamic duo of Williamson and Barrett, who both would eventually become All-Americans, was born.

2. Dropping a 27-16-6 slash in his home debut.

In the first regular season home game, Williamson put on a show for the Cameron Crazies.

The freshman led all scorers with 27 points, and added 16 rebounds, also a game-high, in a 94-72 dominant win over Army.

He also had a season-high six blocks, and became the first Duke player under Coach Mike Krzyzewski to score 25-plus points, 15-plus rebounds, and 5-plus blocks in a game.

3. Two jaw-dropping dunks against Eastern Michigan.

The Williamson hype-train continued into the third game of the season against Eastern Michigan, where Williamson had two of his most impressive dunks of the season in the 84-46 thrashing of the Eagles.

Here's the first, an allep-oop from Reddish. Look how high his head is.

The second, with the game well in hand, Williamson unleashed a right-tomahawk dunk that was very reminiscient of early LeBron James days.

4. Steal and 360 dunk against Clemson.

In a season full of highlight plays, Williamson's dunk against Clemson might be near the top of them all.

Just take a look for yourself:

5. Block on Virginia's DeAndre Hunter.

While the Virginia Cavaliers ended up having the last laugh, as they were crowned National Champions last Monday, the Blue Devils got the better of them in both meetings this season.

In the team's second meeting with Duke up seven late in the second half, Virginia forward DeAndre Hunter looked like he had an open three-point shot from the baseline to cut the lead to four. Then Zion entered the picture.

Williamson used his world class athleticism to contest Hunter's shot, sending it several rows into the Virginia crowd. 

6. Infamous shoe incident.

When the then-No. 1 Blue Devils hosted the then-No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels in the most hyped-up college basketball game in quite some time, the cheapest tickets were $2,989 each for a pair of them.

Unfortunately, those who were in attendance, including President Barack Obama, only caught a glimpse of the freshman sensation. WIlliamson lasted just 36 seconds before having to exit the game with a leg injury after literally bursting through his left shoe when trying to plant.

Obama even pointed it out.

The Tar Heels took advantage of Williamson being out, as Carolina forward Luke Maye exploded for 30 points and 15 rebounds in the 88-72 victory over Duke.

7. Return from injury, perfect from the field against Syracuse.

Williamson missed the next five games with an MCL injury, and Duke struggled in his absence. The Blue Devils went 3-2 over that stretch, with losses coming to Virginia Tech and North Carolina, again. They barely squeaked out a road victory over Wake Forest, who they defeated by 22 earlier in the season.

But Williamson returned for Duke's ACC Tournament campaign, and turned in arguably his most impressive performance of the season in a 84-72 victory over Syracuse.

Zion went a perfect 13-13 from the field, scoring a game-high 29 points, and added 14 rebounds as well.

8. Sweet, sweet revenge against UNC.

After missing the practically the entire first matchup and all of the second against the rival Tar Heels, Williamson and the Blue Devils got their revenge against Carolina in a 74-73 victory in the ACC Tournament semi-finals.

Williamson led Duke with 31 points (more than double than any other Duke player) and 11 rebounds in the victory. He put the Blue Devils ahead for good with a tip-in following his own miss with 31 seconds to go.

Both UNC's Coby White and Nassir Little had a chance to win it at the end, but neither could convert.

Zion got his revenge, and Duke advanced to the ACC Championship game.

9. Bounce Pass against Florida State.

The Blue Devils faced off with the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Tournament Championship, after Florida State pulled off the upset over Virginia in the semi-finals.With Duke up by five early in the second half, WIlliamson used his dominant left hand to thread the needle between two Seminole defenders to find Tre Jones for the layup. 

Williamson showed he could do it all with one of the best passes of the college basketball season. Duke ended up winning 73-63 to take home the tournament crown.

10. And-1 against UCF.

The UCF Knights had given the No. 1 overall seed Blue Devils everything they could handle during their second round matchup in the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils were on the verge of getting upset, down three points with 14 seconds remaining when Williamson came to the rescue.

Zion missed the free throw, but Barrett was able to corrall the rebound and put Duke ahead by one on the put back layup.

The Knights still almost pulled off the upset, but two final attempts rolled off the rim, and Duke lived to see another day.

While Williamson may be headed to the NBA, he provided college basketball fans with a whole lot of thrilling moments; moments that NBA fans will enjoy for years to come.

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