March Madness Bracket 2013: Contenders with Easiest Roads to Atlanta

Ryan DavenportContributor IMarch 24, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 22:  Mike Rosario #3 of the Florida Gators touches the court during the game against the Northwestern State Demons during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 22, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

One full round of the 2013 NCAA tournament is all it's taken to completely alter the roads to the Final Four in Atlanta for many teams edxpected to be in contention. 

By nature, the bracket-style tournament without round-by-round reseeding can create for some extremely strange matchups, usually resulting in obvious mismatches in later rounds.

The tournament is still young, but here are a handful of heavyweights who have significantly easier paths to the promise land than they did when the Big Dance began. 



Strictly based upon seeding, the Cardinals' Sweet 16 matchup is about as much of a gimme as a No. 1 seed could hope for, as Louisville will get set to take on surging No. 12 Oregon, who have stunned two top-five Midwest seeds in Oklahoma State and Saint Louis. 

However, one has to think that Rick Pitino's troops would rather take on a team they have a clear skill advantage on such as the Ducks, even if the Pac-12 champs have clearly been building momentum with each win. 

Louisville was going to have to go through one of the top seeds in the region at some point, but at least the Cardinals caught a break by facing the Ducks in the Sweet 16. 

Assuming Oregon doesn't pull off another shocker, that is. 


Ohio State 

Western No. 2 Ohio State must have been pleased to see the No. 3 New Mexico Lobos upset by Harvard in the round of 64, because it means that the Buckeyes' worst-case scenario prior to the Elite Eight would be taking on No. 6 Arizona. 

In addition, Ohio State took on No. 10 Iowa State rather than No. 7 Notre Dame, who registered five wins over top-25 teams this season, and finished the season ranked No. 24 by the AP. 

So Instead of having to get through Notre Dame or New Mexico, the Buckeyes get relatively favorable matchups in Iowa State and Arizona.

More than anything though, the Buckeyes should be thanking their lucky stars that Gonzaga got taken out by Wichita State, because now Ohio State will be through the toughest section of its journey to the Final Four by the time it reaches the Elite Eight. 



Following two shocking upsets in the South, No. 3 Florida suddenly has a drastically less dangerous road to at least the Elite Eight, as two of the better teams in its corner of the bracket fell early. 

No. 2 Georgetown figured to be the Gators' toughest test prior to meeting No. 1 Kansas in the Elite Eight, but the Hoyas were upset by Florida Gulf Coast, leaving No. 7 San Diego State as the toughest (at least on paper) opponent until then. 

It also doesn't hurt that No. 11 Minnesota blew out No. 6 UCLA, so now Billy Donovan's squad doesn't have to take on the streaky Bruins either. 

Lead by a proven winner on the sidelines, the Gators were always projected to make a deep run, but the upsets to Georgetown and UCLA have made this team's chances at a Final Four berth just that much more realistic.