Breaking Down The Brackets: Quick Thoughts
Easiest Road For A Number 1 seed: Tie, Kansas and Duke-
I think overall Duke and Kansas have the best brackets to propel them into the Final Four. Neither team should face much of a challenge as they advance through their bracket, and in fact I think in both cases they only have one real challenge facing them.
For Duke that challenge will come in the Sweet 16 as Texas is a team capable of matching up well with them. If they get past Texas neither of their two likely Elite 8 matchups, really scares me. UConn is a very good young team, but they are really a one man show, which I think Duke can handle. On top of that the Huskies just won 5 games in 5 days, including the last four against ranked opponents, to win the Big East Tournament. While that was an incredible feat, it might leave themselves worn down for an early exit. And although I consider San Diego State a very good team, I don’t know if they can matchup with Duke’s shooting ability.
For Kansas, their challenge probably won’t come until their Elite 8 matchup with likely Notre Dame. Notre Dame made a strong case for a potential number 1 seed, and are no doubt a dangerous team with their defense and slow tempo offense. The problem is I think Kansas is one of the better teams equipped to deal with them. Kansas is very deep and experienced so I think that will play into it. Also, they aren’t an outside shooting team, so if they can get the ball into the Morris Twins, Notre Dame can’t match up.
Hardest Road To The Final Four: Ohio State
I know Ohio State is supposed to be the number 1 overall seed, but it sure doesn’t seem like they are. Their 2nd round matchup is dangerous no matter who they face. George Mason has shown before what happens when you take them too lightly. Mason doesn’t have the greatest size and speed, but then again neither do the Buckeyes. Mason plays great team basketball, and have a couple excellent shooters. Villanova on the other hand looks like an easier opponent, b/c they only finished .500 in conference play, and have lost their last 5 straight, but I wouldn’t count them out. They have good veteran talent, and a very good starting 5, with three talented guards and two big men. They have a fairly weak bench, especially among their bigs, but if they aren’t in foul trouble they are dangerous. Either game could be a major hurdle for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State’s road doesn’t get any easier as both their Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups look pretty difficult. In the Sweet 16, they will either face Kentucky or WVU, two teams with talent and very good coaching. Both have some flaws, but are real threats to Ohio State. In the Elite 8, both UNC and Syracuse are talented, balanced teams that can upset Ohio State.
Tough But Doable Path To the Final Four: Pittsburgh
The Panthers have some tough matchups, but overall the path is doable for them. They could face a battle in round two against either last year’s Cinderella, Butlter, or Old Dominion. ODU also has the advantage of playing very close to home, so they should have a favorable crowd. While Pitt is better than either of those teams, they aren’t going to just flat out dominate them. In the Sweet 16 the Panthers could face a Kansas State team, that knocked off Kansas or a Wisconsin team that beat Ohio State. At the same time though there is such parity in this bracket that both of those teams could end up losing to either Utah State or Belmont, who are legit Cinderella team’s in their own right. In the bottom of the bracket, 2 seed Florida is a bit overseeded, but they do possess some serious future NBA talent on that roster. Three seed BYU, could be a bit short-handed, but when you have the game’s best scorer, you can never be counted out. Also, don’t forget that one of Pitt’s few losses came at the hands of 6th seed St. John’s. St. John’s is an inside/outside team with a great coach and a lot of veterans. They have a bit of an uphill climb, but they are talented to make a run.