While reaching the Final Four requires a great deal of skill, it also requires a fortuitous draw. Certain teams just have your number and others will match up well even when they appear less talented.
Louisville, for example -- the top overall seed in this year's NCAA Tournament -- faces significant road bumps on the way to Atlanta. Gonzaga, on the other hand, has never been to a Final Four, but the team is coming out of the easiest region in the field.
Here's a look at five higher seeds that drew well -- a factor always worth considering when filling out your bracket.
Remember, Mark Few has yet to guide his team past the Sweet 16 since taking over as head coach in 1999. But there may not be a better year for the Zags to finally make a Final Four. While both Pittsburgh and Wichita State could pose problems in the round of 32, K-State, Wisconsin and Arizona are very vulnerable 4, 5 and 6 seeds and ideal opponents moving forward. Moreover, I think Ohio State is the weakest 2 seed in the field. It's a flawed team that can score in bunches and is certainly hot, but Gonzaga has every weapon to counter. The combination of 7-footer Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris is powerful in the front court. The Zags have a brutally physical unit that can score any which way and they love to defend. The West region is easily their best chance to reach Atlanta.
Indiana is trying to become the first top-ranked team (of 10 all-time) to lose three games in a single regular season and then actually win a national championship. Of course, having two lottery picks in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo helps a ton, as does the senior leadership of Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, two highly capable scorers. I don't expect Syracuse, a soft 4 seed, to reach the second weekend and, other than Miami, which I believe will play in the title game, the Hoosiers' road should be smooth. Danger does loom in the Sweet 16, however, if UNLV makes it there. The Rebels have a sensational freshman in Anthony Bennett and have the athletes to beat anyone in a one-game format.
(4) St. Louis
I know, I know. The Bilikens have a potential match-up with Louisville (still my pick to cut down the nets) in the Sweet 16. However, SLU's ability to control the tempo on both ends of the floor could drastically affect the Cards. Junior forward Dwayne Evans is an excellent two-way player and as a whole, the Bilikens' offensive patience in the half-court is tremendous. I don't think any other 4 seed matches up better against a 1 seed than SLU does.
(4) Michigan and (5) VCU
I really believe the winner of this potential second-round affair is heading to the Final Four, despite the presence of peaking 1 seed Kansas. Great guard play rules March, and both teams have it in spades.
Michigan's Trey Burke is an elite lead guard, a Chris Paul type who controls the pace of an entire game. He's flanked by super-scorers Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, not to mention a duo of solid bigs in Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary. There's also sharpshooter Nick Stauskas, whose 45 percent 3-point shooting can alter the trajectory of a game in a matter of minutes.
VCU meanwhile, plays faster and freer than any team in the country. Shaka Smart's 40 minutes of "HAVOC" can cause any team to panic, even a battle-tested unit like the Jayhawks. The Rams force turnovers in bunches with the nation's best rate (28.7 percent, per ESPN Stats & Info), and have remarkable depth.
Both the Wolverines and the Rams match up incredibly well against Kansas, not to mention higher seeds Georgetown and Florida.
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