Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, March 24, 2015

The Sweet 16 is set, and two Big Ten teams have made it: Wisconsin and Michigan State.

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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:

West: 3.25
Midwest: 4
South: 4.75
East: 5.5


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.

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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 senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, 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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