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.
MORE NCAA TOURNAMENT NEWS:
- Bracket Analysis: What the committee got right and wrong
- March Memories: Best Buzzer-Beaters since 2010
- 2019 NBA Draft: Pre-Tournament Mock Draft
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