Teams With The Easiest Path To The Final Four

    Dissecting the easiest path to the Final Four for the remaining Sweet 16 teams.

    March 23, 2016

    Dissecting the easiest road to the Final Four for the remaining Sweet 16 teams.

    With the field of 68 teams now trimmed to 16, the road to the Final Four is becoming more concrete with each game played.

    The first week of the NCAA tournament certainly did not disappoint. The opening round featured an upset of historic proportions as second-seeded Michigan State fell to Middle Tennessee. Along with Hawaii’s victory over California and Stephen F. Austin’s disposal of West Virginia, it marked the first time in tournament history that a No. 13, No. 14 and No.15-seed all won on the same day.

    However, now that the dust has settled and we look ahead to the Sweet 16, most of the favorites are still standing. Kansas and North Carolina have looked every bit the contenders they’ve been billed, though each with varying degrees of difficulty looming ahead.

    The team with the easiest path to the Final Four is Virginia. One of six ACC teams still dancing, the Cavaliers will take on fourth-seeded Iowa State on Friday in Chicago. Should Tony Bennett’s club get past the Cyclones, it’ll face either Syracuse or Gonzaga, seeded 10 and 11, respectively.

    North Carolina also looks to have a good chance of getting to the Final Four. Should the Tar Heels get past fifth-seeded Indiana, they’ll face either sixth-seeded Notre Dame or seventh-seeded Wisconsin. If it’s the Irish, that would mark the third meeting this season between the teams. Notre Dame won 80-76 on Feb. 6 in South Bend, but North Carolina dominated, 78-47, when they squared off again in the ACC tournament.

    While Virginia’s Midwest and North Carolina’s East Region have Cinderella teams still alive, the favorites will compete to come out of the South and West.

    The tournament’s top overall seed Kansas heads to Louisville to take on fifth-seeded Maryland in the South. If the Jayhawks advance, they’ll meet either Villanova or Miami. Kansas has suffered only four losses on the season, but three of the team teams to beat them have been eliminated (Michigan State, West Virginia, Oklahoma State). The one team to down Kansas that’s still alive: Iowa State.

    Meanwhile in the West, it’s the top four seeds remaining, with Oregon facing Duke and Oklahoma taking on Texas A&M. The Sooners are a slight favorite to get to Houston and should they face Kansas once there, it would mark their third meeting this season.

    MORE: Best NCAA Tournament Coverage On The Web


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