Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Easiest/Toughest Roads


When looking at a bracket right after the pairings are announced, people will always say "Oh, so and so has a cakewalk to the Final Four." It obviously helps to have a fairly easy road to the national semi-finals. On the other hand, some teams get shafted in the seedings and end up with plenty of potential pitfalls. This ranking only took the top four teams in each region into consideration. Here are the teams in each region with the easiest and the hardest roads to the Promised Land.

Midwest Region
Easiest Path: Michigan State. The Spartans don’t have an altogether easy trek to the Elite Eight, but it is much easier than the rest of the top-four seeds. Boston College is overseeded and USC didn’t play well until the Pac-10 Tournament.

Hardest Path: Kansas. The Jayhawks won the Big 12 regular-season title, and get rewarded with the bracket’s best and most experienced No. 14 seed in North Dakota State, then a very tough No. 6 seed in West Virginia. Louisville also has a rough road.

West Region
Easiest Path: Connecticut. For the last No. 1 seed, the Huskies have a relatively easy road to at least the Elite Eight. BYU could pose a threat, but it doesn’t have the inside presence, and neither Washington nor Purdue will pose much of a threat.

Hardest Path: Memphis. The Tigers should have received the easiest road for a No. 2 seed, in theory. However, both California and Maryland have played the top teams tough, and Missouri is arguably the best No. 3 seed in the bracket.

East Region
Easiest Path: Pittsburgh. The Panthers should be able to skate to at least the Elite Eight. Xavier shouldn’t have been a No. 4 seed and Pitt has already defeated one-man show Florida State. And then Duke and Villanova don’t have anyone to defend DeJuan Blair.

Hardest Path: Xavier. I guess this is somewhat fitting, as I don’t think the Musketeers deserved a No. 4 seed. Portland State has already won at Gonzaga this year, and Florida State is one of the hottest teams in the country. Pittsburgh would await them in the Sweet 16.

South Region

Easiest Path: Gonzaga. With no team having an easy road to the Final Four or Elite Eight, the Bulldogs have the easiest road to the Sweet Sixteen. Neither Illinois or Western Kentucky will pose much of a threat to them in the second round.

Hardest Path: Syracuse. The Orange got rewarded with a No. 3 seed after their run in the Big East. However, there was certainly no reward, as they might have to play against All-American James Harden and Arizona State in round two.

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