We wanted to get everyone's thoughts on the B1G's chances in the NCAA Tournament, so we asked the staff here at BT Powerhouse to tell us which team they thought has the easiest path to the Final Four and which team has the hardest. There is talk about if the committee got the seeding right and who the most important player is for a B1G team to make a deep run. Finally, the most important question, what will you do when you win the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge?
1) Which B1G team has the easiest path to the Final Four?
Christopher Novak - Has to be Wisconsin. The West Region is not strong at all compared to the others and comparatively to Michigan State and Michigan, the other two top teams in the conference, Wisconsin has it easy. Oregon and BYU are two teams that simply don't matchup to the Badgers, the latter especially at this point in the season. Although Oregon can give them fits, they're so inconsistent. And while Creighton and Doug McDermott are potent, they have quietly struggled to end the season and if they have an off shooting night, they are toast.
Drew Hamm - Upon first glance, the West Region appears to be the easiest...which pleases me, but I beg to differ. I think that the Midwest Region will prove to be the easiest path for Michigan. When you take the average KenPom ranking of the top-6 seeds for all four brackets, the Midwest comes in fourth with an average ranking of 19, while the West's sits in third at 16.8. The Midwest also comes in fourth when you take the KenPom average of all teams in the region at 61.5, while the West becomes the most difficult region with an average of 48.7. The poor KenPom rankings of St. Louis, UMass, and Texas really bring down the top portion of the Midwest Region.
Jason Dorow - None of the roads are easy, but Wisconsin's is the easiest. Oregon and BYU are both solid, but nothing Bo Ryan can't handle. Creighton and UMASS may be a bit overrated. The Badgers have the easiest road, but Ohio State's road is a lot easier than it appears. OSU gets Dayton in the first round, no sweat. Then, they'll probably get a slumping Syracuse team that recently lost to NC St. and Georgia Tech. In the sweet 16, OSU would likely get Kansas, who could still be without Joel Embiid. And while Florida may be the number one overall seed, they've only beaten two RPI top 30 teams this year.
Chris Kay- I think Michigan has the easiest paths through two games, but past that I think Michigan State has it. UVA is playing great, but I haven't really heard of anyone that is intimidated by them. They also have Villanova who, to me, is overrated. Michigan on the other hand has Duke, a team that has beaten them already this season, and Louisville.
Andrew Holmes- It is difficult to really call any team's path to the Final Four easy. My pick is Wisconsin, they should be the favorite in every matchup in their region, with the exception of Arizona. No other B1G team will have that luxury with Michigan looking at playing Duke, possibly followed by Louisville or Wichita State.
2) Which B1G team has the most difficult path to the Final Four?
Christopher Novak - Michigan. That they are in the murderer's row region of the Midwest immediately solidifies this. They will either go up against Duke or Tennessee, two potent offenses, and then face one of Wichita State or Louisville, two teams who play tremendous defense. This isn't close in my opinion.
Drew Hamm - Ohio State. The average KenPom ranking of the top-6 seeds in the South Region is 12.3, which is the most difficult by far. There are seven teams in KenPom's top-25, including Ohio State, which is the most of any region. Also Ohio State doesn't score the basketball well. That will make it difficult to reach the Final Four as well.
Jason Dorow - Michigan State. The Spartans will likely get a strong Cincinnati team in the third round, and more importantly, they'd face Virginia in the sweet 16. Virginia has been one of the most consistent teams all year and just won the ACC tournament. Not a good time to face the Cavaliers. Plus, Iowa State, who won the Big 12 tourney, and Villanova are looming for a potential showdown in the elite 8.
Chris Kay - Like I said in the question above.. I think Michigan's schedule is hardest to do what every team gets in the big dance for, winning the whole thing. Duke, Wichita State, and Louisville all as teams they could end up playing. Those are some pretty intimidating teams all for different reasons.
Andrew Holmes - Iowa is the easy answer right? They have to play an extra game against a solid Tennessee team, and after that they are still in the "group of death" with Wichita State, Michigan, Duke, etc..
3) Which B1G teams are overseeded/underseeded?
Christopher Novak - Michigan State is somewhat underseeded, but other than that, I think the committee did a good job.
Drew Hamm - I agree with Christopher, MSU could probably have been a three seed. Iowa could make an argument that they shouldn't be in a play-in game, but it wouldn't hold much weight.
Jason Dorow - Based on overall resume, seeding is just about right. But right now, Michigan State is playing like a one seed.
Chris Kay - I think MSU's seeding is fair. Sure, they are healthy now AND that team won the B1G tournament, but part of the whole seeding process is to look at the grand scheme of things right? They did lose to Illinois with their big 4 players playing 25+ minutes.
Andrew Holmes - Michigan State is underseeded, but the 2-4 lines are loaded with talented teams.
4) Who is the most important B1G player, for any team, to make a deep run?
Christopher Novak - For Michigan I think it has to be Nik Stauskas. We saw that last year Trey Burke did a terrific job of catapulting the Wolverines forward, including his memorable 30-footer to tie the game against Kansas in the Sweet 16. I think Stauskas has the same kind of potential, in that he can take over and help push Michigan forward in The Big Dance.
Drew Hamm - Keith Appling has slowly started to regain his health, and as that's happened Michigan State has slowly started to regain its mojo. MSU is a trendy pick to reach the Final Four and if Appling returns to his early season form they will definitely be a threat to do that.
Jason Dorow - Michigan will really need Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines were challenged by Illinois and Ohio State before Michigan State convincingly defeated them. They don't really look like a two seed. Stauskas needs to step up and lead this team for them to make a run.
Andrew Holmes - Branden Dawson will be big for the Spartans' Final Four hopes. He was an instrumental part of their BTT run, and MSU has won every time he has scored more than 6 points this season.
5) What will you do with the money when you win the Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge?
Christopher Novak - Put half in the bank, buy a house, and pay off my college education.
Drew Hamm - I'd buy an aircraft carrier and turn it into a permanent home for a basketball team comprised of playground legends. We'd float around the country and challenge anyone to a game at any time. I'd say any place, but we'd always play on my aircraft carrier. Maybe donate some to charity to, I'm not a monster.
Jason Dorow - I'd start my own college basketball video game franchise (I really miss NCAA March Madness) and pay the NBA to eliminate the one-and-done rule. Make college basketball's level of play what it used to be. Actually, I'd pay off my college education and donate a portion to charity. Probably get some fresh kicks too. But maybe Adam Silver and EA Sports can handle the latter for me.
Chris Kay - To quote a favorite movie of mine, "Two chicks at the same..." Ok. I don't think I can say that on here. I would buy every ticket to every major sporting event I'd want to go to. I would also do just about every basic thing you would do as well. Nothing "sexy" here. Ok, maybe I'd do something cool like buy unlimited Chick-fil-A.
Andrew Holmes - http://youtu.be/tajhs_FdT98 *1000