7 - Michigan State
7 - Iowa
1 - Wisconsin
10 - Ohio State
The region with the most:
4 - Maryland
8 - Purdue
10 - Indiana
So let's start with the positives. The B1G grabbed seven bids and its likely very bubbly team in Indiana grabbed a 10 seed avoiding the 11 or 12 seed play in game. The B1G also secured a 1 seed in the tournament, the first in Wisconsin mens basketball history. Hey, they even have a semi easy path to the final four with only North Carolina and Arizona looking like teams that should challenge the Badgers. That seems fitting for a team that spent the majority of the year in the Top 10 and won the conference regular season title and conference tournament. But is this the easiest path to the final four? I will contend that it isn't in fact the easiest path to the final four of all B1G teams.
No, in fact, I would say that Michigan State has the easiest path to the final four of the B1G draws. Going through the hypothetical path, they would take on Virginia in the second round in a bittersweet rematch for the Wahoos, who were knocked out by Michigan State last year. This year though? Virginia just got Justin Anderson back from a broken finger and emergency surgery. He hardly looked himself and they looked vulnerable without his athletic spark. Say they get through Virginia, they would then get who is in my opinion the weakest 3 seed in Oklahoma. Oklahoma has ten losses on the season yet somehow managed to secure a three seed even after not making their conference final. The one seed in the East? Villanova, who has almost no inside presence and lives and dies by their guard play. That is hardly a final four recipe.
So who has the hardest path to the final four? Well, obviously that gets narrowed down to the three teams in the midwest in Maryland, Purdue, and Indiana. This was an easy filter for hardest path since these three teams are in Kentucky's region. So then, who has the hardest path? Well, Purdue runs into Kentucky first in the second round if they get passed Cincinatti in the 8/9 game, so arguably they get screwed first. Maryland would get them next in the 1/4 game in the sweet 16, so arguably they are in second. Indiana "lucks out" by being in the bottom half of the bracket, so if they made a run they wouldn't hit Kentucky until the Elite 8. So there is somewhat of a pecking order. But who got screwed? By all means I am not being a homer when I say this, but Maryland got screwed. No, not because they got a four seed necessarily, but because they got a four seed and then placed in Kentucky's bracket. Maryland was a unanimous pick as a 3 seed prior to the selections by all media outlets who play the prediction game, went an amazing 26-5 (14-4) and made it to the conference semifinals. The three seeds? Oklahoma had ten losses and lost in the conference semifinals while Baylor had nine losses and made it to the conference semifinals. The argument could be made Maryland should have at least made it over these teams, or at least as the strongest four seed not been given the shaft in their matchup. Either way, Maryland definitely has the hardest path. If they get past the undefeated Kentucky team it would be an amazing feat, but then they would need to turn around quickly for an Elite 8 game that may feature Kansas or Notre Dame, who just happened to win the ACC after downing Duke and North Carolina.
What are your thoughts? Am I overlooking someone else? What are your predictions for the tournament? We will have a more in depth look over the next two days of the B1G teams and their path to the final four, playing with all of the hypotheticals and why each team could make it.