March Madness 2019 is officially upon us. The bracket has been released (get yours here!) and you’re about to hear the words “Boss Button” one hundred times as much in the next two weeks as you do the rest of the year.
We’ve already broken down Virginia’s region. But how does the Road to Minneapolis look overall for the top seeds?
We took the teams that are most likely to stand in the way of the 1-seed and 2-seed in each region, and added up their cumulative KenPom efficiency margins—the higher the total, the tougher the road.
First, the top seeds.
Road to the Final Four: One seeds
|16-seed||NC Central/ND State||Gardner Webb||Iona||Fairleigh Dickinson/Prairie View A&M|
|8-seed||VCU||Ole Miss||Utah St||Syracuse|
|4-seed||Va Tech||Kansas St||Kansas||Florida State|
|TOTAL Opponent KP Margin||120.205||126.8||120.78||124.48|
(For the teams awaiting play-in games, we averaged the efficiency margin of the two opponents.)
Despite avoiding the difficulty of a potential regional final against Kentucky in Louisville, Virginia comes out on the short end of the stick here. Oklahoma and Wisconsin have the highest efficiency margins of their respective peers in other regions. Tennessee has the lowest margin of any 2-seed.
HOWEVER—and hold onto your hearts, Hoo fans—Gardner Webb is by far the strongest 16-seed in the field. The Runnin’ Bulldogs are only a hair behind Bradley, the lowest of the 15-seeds; North Dakota State and Iona are almost 2.5 points worse.
Duke has the easiest path overall, but has KenPom’s top-rated 2-seed—Michigan State—lurking on the bottom line of its region.
ONTO THE TWOS!
Road to the Final Four: Two seeds
|TWO SEED||Michigan St||Tennessee||Kentucky||Michigan|
|4-seed||Va Tech||Kansas St||Kansas||Florida St|
|TOTAL Opponent KP Margin||132.48||138||129.86||143.23|
It’s good to be Kentucky, but woe be unto the Michigan Wolverines. Seton Hall is a weak 10-seed and likely to be knocked out by the mighty Wofford Terriers. And for Michigan, Texas Tech is a monster-strong 3-seed to be parked in the Sweet Sixteen. KenPom also sees UNC-Chapel Hill as a much weaker 1-seed than Gonzaga.
Working in Michigan’s favor? The Wolverines are the second highest-rated 2-seed on KenPom.
As they say, though, the games aren’t played on paper. One 5-12 upset, or a 4 over a 13, or a good old Syracuse-style 15-seed toppling a #2, and these roads start to look very different.