March Madness - Four teams with a favorable bracket pathway

Texas Longhorns guard Matt Coleman dribbles past Kansas Jayhawks guard Ochai Agbaji
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Andrew Ortenberg

NCAAB · 1 year ago

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

The field is officially set. The committee put out the bracket Sunday afternoon, finally starting the countdown to March Madness. This year’s NCAA Tournament is right around the corner, and we’ll be bringing you a ton of great content all week to get you ready.

It’s the gambling event of the year, and the wagering options are endless. This year’s March Madness will be even more special than usual after last year’s was canceled due to COVID-19. As you get ready to fill out your brackets it’s important to game out who’s got an easy or difficult path, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today. Here are the four teams with favorable pathways out the gates:

Texas Longhorns – East

Texas got a three seed in the East region. Their first game is against Abilene Christian, which shouldn’t give them too much trouble. From there, they’ll either play BYU or the winner of the UCLA/Michigan State play-in game. BYU isn’t anything special this year, and they haven’t beaten a team that made the March Madness field since all the way back on December 18th.

UCLA finished the year on a four-game losing streak, and this is the worst Spartans team in years as they’re lacking a true lead scorer. As such, I think the Longhorns have a cakewalk to the Sweet 16. They really impressed me in the Big 12 Tournament and senior big man Jericho Sims is starting to break out, so I like their chances against Alabama in a potential Sweet 16 meeting. Then the one seed in their bracket is Michigan, who is significantly weakened by the loss of Isaiah Livers.

Gonzaga Bulldogs – West

Gonzaga got a great draw, and the nation’s top offense is set up well for success. The two seed in their region is an Iowa team that they already beat by double digits on a neutral court earlier this year. The Hawkeyes simply can’t defend them. The three seed is a Kansas team that they’ve also already beaten by double digits this season.

The Jayhawks are very weak for a three seed, they had a 2-5 stretch in the middle of conference play, and are now dealing with COVID-19 issues. I think four seed Virginia might have trouble with Ohio in the first round. In this region, Gonzaga is in a league of their own, and unless they have a fluke slip-up game, seem like a good bet for the Final Four.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs

© Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State Buckeyes – South

The Buckeyes are set up very well, at least for the first few rounds. They’ll breeze past Oral Roberts, and I don’t think either Florida or Virginia Tech will make them sweat too much in the Round of 32. If they play three seed Arkansas in the Sweet 16, I like their matchup there.

Arkansas isn’t nearly as efficient on offense, and the Razorbacks got pretty lucky this year. They might be a three seed, but Kenpom only has them as the 18th-best team in the country. They’d have to get past Baylor to make it to the Final Four, but they can cross that bridge when they get there. I think we can pencil them into the Elite Eight.

West Virginia Mountaineers – Midwest

The Midwest is a very tough region overall, so it’s hard to say anyone has an easy pass. But one seed Illinois got a really tough draw, as they’ll likely have to face Loyola Chicago (the ninth-most efficient team in the country per Kenpom) in the second round and then potentially Cade Cunningham and a really good Oklahoma State team in the second round.

If Illinois were to get bounced, that would set things up very well for West Virginia in the bottom half of the region. They should crush Morehead State, and if they can get past San Diego State in the second round I like their chances in a Sweet 16 meeting with Houston. Houston might be a two seed, but they played a soft schedule and haven’t really been tested. Only one other team from the AAC (Wichita State) made March Madness, and Houston lost to them last time they played.

Pickswise is the home of March Madness Predictions. Check out all of our March Madness Picks, including daily March Madness Parlays throughout the NCAA Tournament.

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