Though a No.1 seed has historically spelled good things for teams, it is not a guarantee of anything. Every year we see the top ranked teams get bounced earlier than expected and dash thousands of brackets in the process. That leads many to ask; which No.1 seed will see the door first?
This year, the odds-on favorite is Oregon with the Ducks being listed at -150 to be the first top ranked team to be ousted at Sportsbook. Ultimately, that doesn’t come as much of a shock with many thinking that other teams probably deserved a No.1 seed over Oregon.
Let’s take a look at each No.1 seeds potential path and see who could be watching from the sidelines early this year.
Aside from the idea that other teams deserved this seed over Oregon, the Ducks have a difficult task in front of them. Their first round should be a cakewalk against Holy Cross or Southern, but then it gets more difficult. Oregon will either play a streaking St. Joseph’s or a defensive juggernaut in the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second round.
If Oregon can make it to the Sweet 16 they will likely be facing either Duke or Baylor. The Blue Devils have something to prove after being ranked so low and the Bears, though a little cold, have proven they are not an easy out.
In all honesty, Oregon could very well have the most difficult path to the Final Four than any other No.1 (and we didn’t even talk about the bottom of the West Region that features Oklahoma and Texas A&M).
Key Potential Matchup: Second Round vs St. Joseph’s
Virginia’s second-ranked defense makes them a difficult task for any team to try and topple. The second round will see them meet either Texas Tech or Butler. The Red Raiders were far from the best when it comes to offense this season, but the Bulldogs were one of the best shooting teams in the nation when they are on.
A trip to the Sweet 16 would probably have Virginia facing off against either Purdue or Iowa State. The Boilermakers offer another defensive battle for Virginia, the type of game they relish. The Cyclones’ offense averages 81.8 points per game and Georges Niang is one of the few players in the country that could beat Malcolm Brogdon one-on-one.
A trip to the Elite Eight would potentially pit Virginia against Michigan State. The Spartans are probably the most complete team in the nation and they feature the most versatile player in college basketball.
Key Potential Matchup: Sweet 16 vs Iowa State
UNC Tar Heels
It appears UNC has a fairly cushy first few round. The Tarheels will meet either Florida Gulf Coast of Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round then USC or Providence in the second. If I’m UNC, the only team there that worries me is Providence. Kris Dunn is arguably the best point guard in the nation and Ben Bentl has become one of the better big men in the paint.
The worst matchups in the Sweet 16 would either be Kentucky or Indiana. If the Wildcats make it to that point they will have won seven consecutive games and though the team is young, features some of the biggest upside of any players in the country. Indiana is a complete team that offers several versatile offensive threats that compete at both ends of the floor.
The bottom half of the East features several teams that could easily make it to the Final Four, as UNC could face potential matchups against Notre Dame, West Virginia or Xavier.
Key Potential Matchup: Sweet 16 vs Indiana
In all honesty, the top ranked team in the nation seems to have the easiest trip to the Elite Eight. The first round sees an easy game against Autin Peay then the second round will pit the Jayhawks against Colorado or UConn. Both solid teams, but both seem a step behind the nations best.
At this point, UK will likely see their first challenging game. Maryland has been inconsistent, but deadly, assuming they could make it that far. Cal has a letal group of players that love to attack the rim, but can make some bad decisions with the ball.
The bottom half of the South Region feels much more difficult with Arizona, Miami and Villanova all wanting to cut down the nets. However, it is understandable that Kansas has the longest odds to be the first No.1 seed to lose this season.
Key Potential Matchup: Sweet 16 vs Cal