Sweet 16 Bracket: Breaking Down Every No. 1 Seed's Path to the Final Four

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIMarch 26, 2013

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 24:  (L-R) Ben McLemore #23, Travis Releford #24 and Kevin Young #40 of the Kansas Jayhawks walk on the court against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 24, 2013 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

As we enter the Sweet Sixteen of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, only three No. 1 seeds remain. West Region No. 1 Gonzaga went down in the Round of 32, leaving Louisville, Kansas and Indiana as the remaining trinity.

So what will it take for the remaining No. 1 seeds to make the Final Four?

For background information, note that the Louisville Cardinals are the overall No. 1 seed. They won the Big East regular season and conference tournament championships.

They haven't faced defeat since a five-overtime road loss on Feb. 9 to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Since then, they've won 12 consecutive games.

They've won their first two tournament games by an average of 28.5 points.

As for Kansas, they won the Big 12 regular season and tournament championship titles. They've won five consecutive games and 12 of their past 13.

They've defeated Western Kentucky and North Carolina by an average of 9.5 points en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

Indiana won the Big Ten regular season title but fell short in the conference tournament. They've responded by winning their first two NCAA Tournament games, including a gutty 58-52 win over Temple.

With these three teams in the Sweet Sixteen, there's only one question left to ask—what does each team's path to the Final Four look like?


Louisville Cardinals, Midwest Region

The Louisville Cardinals are the overall No. 1 seed for a reason. Outside of the fact that they return virtually the same team from their 2012 Final Four run, Louisville is an elite defensive unit with adequate offensive balance.

In order to make their second consecutive Final Four appearance, however, Louisville must first get through No. 12 Oregon.

Oregon may have a low seeding, but no one is foolish enough to view them as a true underdog. They won the Pac-12 Conference Tournament championship and were a team that most viewed as a lock for the tournament well before winning their conference tournament.

For that reason, the Ducks pose quite the threat to Louisville as their Sweet Sixteen battle approaches.

Should Louisville defeat Oregon, they will be tasked with facing either No. 2 Duke or No. 3 Michigan State. Duke boasts one of the better offenses in the nation, while Michigan State is to be one of the better teams in the deep Big Ten.

It won't be easy, but Louisville is the No. 1 seed—can they live up to the billing?


Kansas Jayhawks, South Region

The Kansas Jayhawks were the 2012 NCAA runner-ups after losing to the Kentucky Wildcats in the National Championship Game. Minus Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor, they return virtually the same team.

Making their second consecutive appearance in the Final Four certainly won't be easy, though, as the upset alert begins in the Sweet Sixteen.

Facing Kansas will be Naismith Award finalist Trey Burke and the Michigan Wolverines. While Michigan's seeding of No. 4 may suggest they're a high-quality team, the ranking still fails to describe how dangerous Wolverines are.

If not for a 72-71 loss to Indiana on Mar. 10, Michigan would have won a share of the Big Ten regular season title.

If Kansas manages to get past the Wolverines, they will face either No. 3 Florida or No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast. No matter what the seedings may tell you, no one wants to play the latter.

One way or another, the Jayhawks will have a difficult road to their second consecutive Final Four appearance.


Indiana Hoosiers, East Region

The Indiana Hoosiers have arguably the most difficult bracket of any No. 1 seed. Not only were they forced to fend off Khalif Wyatt and Temple during the Round of 32, but every team seeded No. 2 through No. 4 is still alive.

That sets up a Sweet Sixteen battle with No. 4 Syracuse.

When the Orange are on their game, they're as good as any No. 1 seed in this tournament. They began the season 18-1 and own victories over Louisville, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Even as they've slipped up during the past month, they remain a dangerous team that only recently saw James Southerland return from suspension.

Assuming Indiana defeats Syracuse, they'll be in line to play either No. 2 Miami (FL) or No. 3 Marquette. Miami won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles, while Marquette earned a share of the regular season Big East crown.

Regardless of whom they draw, Indiana has an uphill battle to their first Final Four appearance since 2002.


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