NCAA Bracket 2012: Contenders With Easiest Road to Final Four

Scott SemmlerAnalyst IIMarch 11, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 10:  Marquis Teague #25, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14, Anthony Davis #23 and Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats react in the first half against the Florida Gators during the semifinals of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at New Orleans Arena on March 10, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Every year, some regions favor some teams more than others, and this year is no different.  Several teams in the announced NCAA tournament bracket have earned matchups throughout their region that simply fit their liking, and we will most likely be seeing them mosey on through their bracket and into the Final Four.

Usually, we would have to say that the No. 1 seeds tend to have the best chance of moving on.  However, this year is a little mixed as far as high-ranked teams are concerned.  Several No. 1 seeds have the potential of being upset in a few matchups on their road to New Orleans.

Here is one team from every region that has the easiest road to the Final Four.

South: Kentucky

There is zero doubt Kentucky has the easiest road to the Final Four.  In fact, I would venture to say that most of the country thinks that way.  The Wildcats may not get tested until the Elite Eight, which can be a good and bad thing.

Looking ahead to the third round, Wichita State and Indiana do not match up well with Kentucky.  The Wildcats are far more athletic than both teams, and are far more deeper off the bench.

I would expect either Duke or Baylor to come out of the lower part of this region, which would set up a decent matchup with one of those teams.

Again, Kentucky's athletic ability should be enough to run Duke right out of the gym.  However, the toughest test for the Wildcats would be a matchup with Baylor, in which case we would have to see which Baylor team shows up that day.

Either way, Kentucky should have no problem running the table in the South Region.

West: Missouri

It was a close call between Florida and Missouri in this region, as both teams have the ability to win this region.  In fact, one can make an argument that there are five teams that can win this region, yet only one will actually achieve that feat.  Three of those five teams are in the lower part of the region.

In the end, Missouri has the depth, athleticism and talent to make the move to the Final Four.

Florida is very much a similar team that should meet Missouri in the third round, but Missouri is the Florida team but with massive depth, as they showed us all in the Big 12 tournament.

The only worry would be if Marquette starts to play up to the standard that they should be, which would make them a perennial national championship team.  However, that is tough to see happening, especially if they have to go through Murray State to get to Missouri.

Missouri was deserving of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but the Tigers will settle for a No. 2 seed in a region that is up for grabs.

East: Ohio State

If you closely at this bracket, you will find only four teams that have a real chance at making it to the Sweet 16.  After that, it is anyone's region.  

It would not be a surprise to see Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Ohio State or Florida State representing the East Region in the Final Four.

However, the easiest of that bunch would have to be Ohio State, as the Buckeyes match up very well with Florida State. That's more so than Syracuse does with Vanderbilt, which can easily pull an upset in that game if it brings that same tenacity it played Ohio State with.

Look for any of those four teams to be in the Final Four, but the Buckeyes have the road paved for them.  It is up to them to come through.

Midwest: Kansas

The Jayhawks did not receive a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, but I am sure they will take a region where they would seem to be the favorite as the No. 2 seed.

Kansas will most likely play St. Mary's and Georgetown on their way to the Elite Eight, where a meeting with North Carolina seems to be the most likely of possibilities, seeing as the Tar Hells may have the second-easiest schedule of the region.

However, UNC is a bit beat up with Dexter Strickland gone for the season and John Henson nursing a wrist injury against Florida State on Sunday.  Kansas has everyone healthy, and they have Thomas Robinson underneath the basket with no one on UNC that can guard him.

Kansas vs. UNC should be the most likely scenario in the Elite Eight, but UNC's health will play a definite factor in how they match up with Kansas once that day comes.