The 2018 NCAA Tournament bracket was released yesterday. Kansas, Villanova, Xavier and Virginia make up the No. 1-seed. Which region creates the most difficult path for these seeds?

The time has come for one of the highlights of the year for sports fanatics. The brackets are set, and the NCAA tournament is now upon us. The committee was under a lot of scrutiny as teams like St. Mary’s, Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame missed the cut. Meanwhile, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and UCLA squeezed in under the wire.

Three of the four No. 1 seeds were victors of their conference tournament (excluding Xavier), and are now the favorite in their individual regions. Some of their paths seem to be a little bit easier than others. Here are the rankings for the easiest region to the most difficult.

No. 4: The East Region

Villanova by far will have the easiest trip to San Antonio, Almost no one in the East Region is a team that will be able to compete with Nova.

Purdue is coming off a blowout loss to Michigan in the Big 10 Championship game, and have lost four of their last 12 games. This includes a three game losing skid to Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Texas Tech is in a similar situation where they lost five of their last seven games. They also will play with a hurt Keenan Evans, their leading scorer. They could definitely be on upset watch against No. 14 Stephen F. Austin, who are coming in hot and have one of the best defenses in D1.

The No. 4 is Wichita State, who finished as the runner up in the American Athletic Conference. They will be the most serious threat to Villanova as they try to reach the Final Four. This team full of veterans is experienced and can make a serious run in this tournament.

West Virginia comes into the tournament finishing as the runner up to Kansas in the Big 12 Championship. West Virginia had a tough middle of the season, but they finished strong to end the season. Jevon Carter will have to play well for this team to make noise in the tournament.

A major problem for WVU is that they will be playing potentially the hottest team in the country in Murray State. Since Murray State lost in mid-January, they have dominated the Ohio Valley Conference, blowing every team out by at least nine points to win 12 straight heading into the tournament. WVU is on serious upset watch against the thriving Racers.

Florida had an early exit from the SEC tournament as they were upset by Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the SEC tourney and are .500 in their last 12 games.

The one team that Villanova should be most afraid to face off against is actually No. 8 Virginia Tech in the second round. VA Tech has played upset multiple times this season beating Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia throughout the season. Who is saying they won’t add Nova to that impressive list?

No. 3: The South Region

The No. 1 overall seed Virginia Hokies will have the second easiest route to the Final Four in the South region.

The No. 2 seed Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in the country as they defeated Wichita State in American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati has a proficient offense that is capable of putting up a lot of points in a hurry. Their only losses have been to Wichita State, Xavier, Florida and Houston, who are all in the tournament. This team could make a deep run into March and could pose a serious threat to the Hokies.

Mo. 3 in the South Region is the second worst No. 3 in the tournament. Tennessee is more than likely the most overrated team in the country. They were blown out by Alabama by 28 points. They did win seven of their last 10, but five of those were by less than five points. Expect an early exit from Tennessee.

Arizona just won the PAC 12 tournament, not that really says that much. Only three teams from that conference will continue into March. Two of those teams were in the last four in as well. Arizona of course has also been under a lot of investigations this season for paying athletes, and the reported PED scandal against Alonzo Trier (was later proved false). While Arizona does have one of the best players in the country in DeAndre Ayton, I think it is too little too late for the Wildcats to make a serious run.

Kentucky is a team just like Arizona, they are definitely heating up at the right time after winning the SEC Tournament. But, they will face a team in a very similar situation in Davidson who could honestly win with the way they are playing right now. Davidson won their tournament, and have one of the most efficient offenses in the country. Davidson also has defeated three top-25 ranked teams, and could pose to be a difficult out for Kentucky.

Another team from down south that is going to struggle is Miami. The Hurricanes will face Loyola Chicago, who in my opinion, is a better team. The Ramblers are very capable of beating this struggling Miami team. Miami could also be without their best player Bruce Brown Jr. in this matchup. Expect a very close game with a real potential with the No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago coming out victorious.

No. 2: The Midwest Region

Kansas will have a difficult way to the final four in the top heavy Midwest Region as Duke and Michigan State come in at the No. 2 and 3 seeds.

The Jayhawks may have the possibility of not even making it to the second weekend as they will have to face either Seton Hall or NC State in the second round. They better hope and pray that Seton Hall pulls out the win because NC State could be a threat to Kansas. State defeated Duke, North Carolina, Clemson and Arizona, and could be a dangerous team if they get to play Kansas.

Duke got a real luck of the draw as they will play Iona in the first round, and either Oklahoma or Rhode Island (who both struggled mightily at the end of the season) in the second round. Duke will have a very simple path to the Sweet 16. They need to figure out the point guard position to get any further than that.

Michigan State is the No. 3 seed in the Midwest, and is also a favorite to reach the Final Four. They better not look past Bucknell, who gave West Virginia a run for their money last season in the tournament. But who wouldn’t be excited to get a Duke vs. Michigan State rematch in the Sweet 16?

After Michigan State is a relatively large drop off of talented teams. Auburn lost four of their last six games, and could be a major disappointment in March. Clemson will play a very difficult contest against and impressive New Mexico State team who could easily be this year’s Cinderella team.

Expect Michigan State, Duke, NC State, Kansas and New Mexico State to make some noise in the Midwest Region.

No. 1: The West Region

The No. 1 seed Xavier will have a very difficult time making it to the Final Four with the depth of the West Region. Top to bottom, this is probably the best region in the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Xavier is by far the weakest No. 1 seed. They have only one victory against teams currently in the top-25 when they beat Cincinnati earlier in the season. Their schedule has been very easy, but they have the most difficult journey to reach the Final Four.

Assuming the Musketeers beat the play-in No. 16 seed, they will play one of two pretty difficult opponents in Florida State or Missouri.

Missouri had a very low-key year in the SEC after they lost Michael Porter Jr. to a back injury early in the season. However, the No. 1 recruit in the country has returned and will play in the tourney. Florida State could also play upset as they beat North Carolina and Clemson earlier this season. Xavier may not even make it to Sweet 16 if they are not careful.

The No. 2 seed is a decent North Carolina team who lost the ACC Championship to Virginia. Luke Maye and Joel Barry III will cause havoc in the tournament this year, and the Tar Heels are definitely deep enough to run the table in March.

Michigan comes in at the No. 3 seed after they won the Big Ten Tournament for the second consecutive season. The Wolverines are hoping to replicate the Elite Eight run they made last season when they heated up at the right time (similar to this season). They could easily make a run as their offense and defense has improved substantially since the start of the season.

The No. 4 seed is a very good Gonzaga team who has dominated in 13 straight games. Only one of those victories was by less than double digits. Killian Tillie will be the X-Factor as to whether or not they make the succeed in the tournament again this year. Gonzaga has just as good a chance as anyone to make it out of the West Region.

Ohio State comes in at No. 5 and they have been one of the best teams in the country at different points of the season. However, they will compete against an excellent shooting South Dakota State team with one of the best players in the country in Mike Daum (24 ppg, 10 reb, 39 percent from deep). But if Ohio State comes out and plays like the top-10 team they were earlier this season, they could be a serious threat.

The talent in this region goes much longer than this. Houston is coming it at No. 6 and have been great late this season. Rob Gray is one of the most talented offensive players in the country and Houston overall is a top-10 defensive team in the country. That being said, San Diego State will be a very competitive opponent against Houston. The winners of the Mountain West Conference are just as hot as Houston and even defeated Gonzaga earlier this season.

The West Region is so great because No. 1-through-6 have the potential to be a Final Four contender. While they may not have the team that will win it all, it will be the most competitive and most difficult for your team to get out of.

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Content Contributor for Armchair Tigers The Armchair All-Americans LLC
Hi my name is Daniel Plocher and I am a junior at Wisconsin Lutheran College. I am the Editor-in-Chief of our student newspaper and love writing for Armchair. I was raised in California, however I love all Detroit sports. My family is really weird because one side of the family is all Detroit and Michigan fans, and the other side is huge into Wisconsin sports and Michigan St fans. We are literally a family divided by sports. Because of this, I cheer for the Brewers and the Bucks to ease a bit of tension. I mainly write for Armchair Tigers, but I also write some pieces for my other fandoms as well.
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Content Contributor for Armchair Tigers The Armchair All-Americans LLC
Hi my name is Daniel Plocher and I am a junior at Wisconsin Lutheran College. I am the Editor-in-Chief of our student newspaper and love writing for Armchair. I was raised in California, however I love all Detroit sports. My family is really weird because one side of the family is all Detroit and Michigan fans, and the other side is huge into Wisconsin sports and Michigan St fans. We are literally a family divided by sports. Because of this, I cheer for the Brewers and the Bucks to ease a bit of tension. I mainly write for Armchair Tigers, but I also write some pieces for my other fandoms as well.

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