Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Roundtable: Toughest Road Out of the Sweet 16

FGCU's rough road from the Sweet 16 is not safe for dancing. (via Bleacher Report)

BDD's Friday Roundtable is a weekly discussion among a group of our writers on a trending NBA or college basketball topic.

This week's question: Which remaining Sweet 16 team faces the most challenging road to an NCAA championship?

My first instinct was to pick a team from the stacked Midwest bracket, but instead I'm going with America's favorite team it just heard of; Florida Gulf Coast.

Being a No. 15 seed Cinderella, every team the Eagles face from here on will be large favorites and more talented than the teams the Eagles see in the majority of the regular season. It doesn't help the other three teams in the region are very low seeds (No. 1, No. 3 and No. 4), FGCU has to play its bigger brother of sorts in Florida and two of these teams (Michigan and Kansas) have been ranked No. 1 in either the AP or coaches poll this year.

If the slipper continues to fit, FGCU would have to face the winner of the East, which was the only region to have all top four seeds reach the Sweet 16. Finally, it's hard to imagine either Louisville, Duke or Michigan State from the Midwest not reaching the title game. That's a major task for a team unknown to the majority of the country before a week ago. 

Oregon. The Ducks were woefully underseeded, which made their first two games tougher than they deserved. Yet, they handled both Oklahoma State and a sweetheart St. Louis team with little trouble.

Now that the tournament's wheat has been separated from the chaff, things only get harder. The Ducks must first overcome Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed and a notoriously stingy defensive squad. From there one of two lightweights (you know, Michigan State or Duke) would be waiting in the Elite Eight before a match with either a peaking Wichita State or Ohio State's beat-'em-at-the-buzzer Buckeyes.

Picture a duck — feathers, beak and all — in a house from one of the Saw films. Those are the kinds of traps awaiting Oregon, with the ultimate one being a title game against a No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4 seed, or a Cinderella with a groundswell of support in the stands and in the hearts of college hoops fans.

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