Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 24, 2015
The Sweet 16 is set, and two Big Ten teams have made it: Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Most expected the Badgers, the No. 1 seed in the West and 2014 Final Four participants, to be here. If they're to make a second Final Four in as many seasons, they will have earned it.
That's because Wisconsin faces the toughest road to Indianapolis of the remaining No. 1 seeds, the others being Duke and Kentucky.
How am I measuring this? By the seeds. The West Region includes No. 4 North Carolina, Wisconsin's Sweet 16 opponent, No. 2 Arizona and No. 6 Xavier, teams that combine for an average seed of 4.
The Midwest (Kentucky) features No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 5 West Virginia and No. 7 Wichita State, an average seed of 5, and the South (Duke) boasts No. 2 Gonzaga, No. 5 Utah and No. 11 UCLA, an average seed of 6.
Best case, Wisconsin plays an aggregate seed of 10 (No. 4 UNC & No. 6 Xavier); worst case, it's 6 (No. 4 UNC & No. 2 Arizona). Meanwhile, Kentucky and Duke's aggregate best-case/worst-case seeds look like this, respectively: 12/8; 16/7.
A couple of other things: Wisconsin is the only No. 1 that can face the highest-possible seed in each round of its region, plus its likely Elite Eight opponent (Arizona) is the top No. 2 seed.
Again, this is just a fun look at the paths according to the seeds. In no way does this mean Wisconsin, which owns a program-record 33 victories, can't make the Final Four, or even win the national title.
Here's a look at each region's average remaining seed, including Wisconsin and Michigan State:
While Wisconsin has the most rigorous path to Indianapolis, Michigan State, the No. 7 seed in the East, is in a region for the taking.
Both the No. 1 (Villanova) and No. 2 (Virginia) are gone, the latter courtesy of the Spartans for the second consecutive season. Here's what remains: No. 3 Oklahoma, Michigan State's Sweet 16 foe, No. 4 Louisville and No. 8 North Carolina State.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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