Which No. 1 seeds aren't likely to reach Final Four?

March 15, 2011

Duke's problem: Texas

Shannon Ryan

Chicago Tribune

Pittsburgh, Kansas and Ohio State can book flights to Houston. Duke could have trouble.

The Blue Devils showed vulnerability at the end of the season with losses at Virginia Tech and North Carolina. They could be discombobulated by the will-he-or-won't-he conversation about whether freshman point guard Kyrie Irving will return from a toe injury. And, of course, Texas, Connecticut and San Diego State stand in the way. Look for fourth-seeded Texas, which has the talent to be a No. 1 seed, to beat the Blue Devils en route to the Final Four.

Of the other three, Ohio State has the toughest road. The Buckeyes weren't rewarded as the overall No. 1 team, getting placed in the same bracket as North Carolina, Syracuse and Kentucky. A Sweet 16 matchup against Syracuse in Newark, N.J., where Orange fans will travel by the busloads, doesn't favor the Buckeyes.

sryan@tribune.com

Panthers vulnerable

David Teel

Daily Press

Since the NCAA began seeding the bracket, at least one top seed has reached 30 of the 32 Final Fours. Given this season's parity, a third shutout is quite possible.

Duke's potential draw includes a West semifinal against Texas' thorny defense, then a virtual road game versus San Diego State. Only one team ranks ahead of Pittsburgh in rebounding margin, and that's possible third-round Southeast opponent Old Dominion.

Notre Dame or Purdue could roadblock Kansas in the Southwest, with Kentucky and Syracuse doing the same to Ohio State in the East.

But the most vulnerable is Big East regular-season champion Pitt, the only top-seeded program without a recent Final Four. The Panthers have lost three of their last six games.

dteel@tribune.com

Pitt will have trouble

Matt Murschel

Orlando Sentinel

Of the four No. 1 seeds, Pittsburgh is the most likely to falter before the Final Four.

While the Southwest Region isn't the most difficult in this year's brackets, it's full of potential upsets for the Panthers. Despite playing in the Big East, Pittsburgh has an RPI of 10, the lowest of all the top seeds. After an inevitable first-round victory, Pittsburgh could have a tough time against the winner of the Butler-Old Dominion game. Both are battling for the rights to this year's Cinderella story, and Butler would like nothing better than getting back to the championship game. Waiting in the wings as potential regional opponents are Wisconsin (16 RPI), BYU (5) or Florida (8).

If you are looking elsewhere, Ohio State in the East could be another endangered top seed. With possible matchups against Kentucky, Syracuse or North Carolina, the Buckeyes might struggle to find their way to Houston.

mmurschel@tribune.com

Pitfalls await Pitt

Chris Dufresne

Los Angeles Times

History strongly suggests Pittsburgh will have a tough time pushing through as all the other No.1 seeds have GPS when it comes to reaching the Final Four.

Ohio State, Kansas and Duke have made multiple trips in recent years. Duke, of course, has a standing invitation. Kansas made the Final Four in 2002 and 2003 and broke through to win it all in 2008. Ohio State made it in 1999, though the NCAA later vacated that trip, and returned in 2007 with Greg Oden.

Pittsburgh is a stranger to all this, and the pressure to make good on the promise will increase as the Panthers advance. The next most likely No. 1 out? Ohio State, a great team that got stuck in a regional with North Carolina, Kentucky and Syracuse.

cdufresne@tribune.com

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