The (actual) easiest roads ever to the Final Four

Discussion in 'Rupp Rafters - Basketball Forum' started by CapnBlubs, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. CapnBlubs

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    We've heard a lot from the haters about how ridiculously easy our setup is. As if we actually have control over it.

    But here are the easiest roads since the 1985 tournament expansion, by total seed numbers (eventual champions in bold):

    1991 #1 UNC - 47 (16, 9, 12, 10)

    1990 #1 UNLV - 47 (16, 8, 12, 11)

    2008 #1 Kansas - 46 (16, 8, 12, 10)

    1993 #1 Michigan - 44 (16, 9, 12, 7)

    1999 #1 Duke - 43 (16, 9, 12, 6)

    1990 #4 Arkansas - 43 (13, 12, 8, 10)

    1986 #1 Duke - 43 (16, 8, 12, 7)

    1999 #1 Michigan State - 41 (16, 9, 13, 3)

    2014 #1 Florida - 40 (16, 9, 4, 11)

    2008 #1 UCLA - 40 (16, 9, 12, 3)

    2005 #1 Illinois - 40 (16, 9, 12, 3)

    1999 #1 UConn - 40 (16, 9, 5, 10)

    1994 #1 Arkansas - 40 (16, 9, 12, 3)

    If we make it, our total will either be 45 (playing Loyola) or 41 (playing Nevada). So yes, we'll make the list. But it's about time we got some luck.

    Look at how chalk-lined our road to EVERY Final Four since 1985 has been:

    1993 #1 UK = 32 (lowest possible for a 1 seed = 30)

    1996 #1 UK = 31 (lowest possible = 30)

    1997 #1 UK = 30 (lowest possible = 30)

    1998 #2 UK = 32 (lowest possible for a 2 seed = 26)

    2011 #4 UK = 21 (lowest possible for a 4 seed = 21)

    2012 #1 UK = 31 (lowest possible = 30)

    2014 #8 UK = 16 (lowest possible for an 8 seed = 16)

    2015 #1 UK = 32 (lowest possible = 30)

    Even in 1998, UK just faced a 10 (instead of a 7) and a 6 (instead of a 3) to account for the difference.

    So we're due for this. I hope we take advantage and that everyone else keeps crying the whole way!
     
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  2. Mr_GG

    Mr_GG Blue Chip Prospect
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    Nice research!
     
  3. CapnBlubs

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    Thanks, glad you found it worthwhile. It didn't take a whole lot of work (maybe an extra 15-20 minutes) as I was already looking back through the tournaments to see where this one stacked up in terms of upsets. Sports stats have always been one of my favorite ways to procrastinate work for my real job.
     
  4. sambowieshin

    sambowieshin Senior
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    It is interesting some time to see that our paranoia actually has some merit.
     
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  5. cats2010

    cats2010 Senior
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    The Paranoia on this board is how easy Duke and UNC always have it and their cakewalks to the final four. Many were complaining this year UNC got a cakewalk forgetting how good Texas A&M as a 2nd round opponent would be. 2010 and 2015 Duke are thrown around as examples over and over and they aren’t on the list above either. It’s been spouted to the point that many here just believe it’s true, and it’s not.

    One thing that is true is that our region typically follows chalk and we haven’t been the benefactors of upsets but certainly has changed for us this year. Hope we take full advantage!!!
     
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  6. CapnBlubs

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    There are two ways people could talk about an "easy road." The one in this thread is entirely luck-based. We haven't usually enjoyed the good fortune of high seeds falling before we face them.

    What I posted doesn't address original seeding/location/matchups defined by the committee. Just seed numbers you happen to face. So I don't think you can use this list to defend Duke any more than you can use it to attack them. All you can say from the list above is that they've been lucky to have their region crumble a couple times, and we haven't, until now.

    But to address the specific years you mentioned, Duke did benefit from facing a 5 seed in the 2010 title game and a 7 seed in the 2015 semifinal. Neither of those would be reflected here because they weren't on the road to the final four, they were part of it.
     
  7. cats2010

    cats2010 Senior
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    We benefited by playing a 7 seed for the title in 2014 (albeit as an 8) but didn’t take advantage. In 2010 yes duke had to beat a 5 for the title but also had to beat West Virginia (2) in the final four who had taken us out and beat Baylor (3) in the state of Texas just to get to the final four.
     
  8. LowCountryCat

    LowCountryCat All-American
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    Great post. Should be a sticky.
     
  9. LowCountryCat

    LowCountryCat All-American
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    And in 1996 we beat Syracuse (a 9) for the title. But overall, the OP's point is valid.
     
  10. UKWildcatT

    UKWildcatT All-American
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    If we finally caught a break this season, I’ll take it. Just incredible to see how we’ve never gotten a good break until now
     
  11. LowCountryCat

    LowCountryCat All-American
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    Keep bumping this thread, guys.
     
  12. UKWildcatT

    UKWildcatT All-American
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    ?! Syracuse was a 4 seed
     
  13. CatsFan4Evr.

    CatsFan4Evr. All-American
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    While your research is great, let's not forget that our run is likely going to be in the top 5-10 runs all-time, and we're a 5 seed. No one else on the list is lower than a 4, and that's one team (Arkansas 1990). Everyone else was a 1 seed and deserved an easy run. So to say our run isn't historically easy (arguably the easiest of all-time) isn't accurate.

    But I'll take it nonetheless, and watch the haters squirm.
     
    13 CatsFan4Evr., Mar 19, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
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  14. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    In 2010, Duke got a damaged Purdue in their bracket. They also didn’t get stuck with WVU.

    In 2015, we got the Duke killer Notre Dame in our Regional, then Wisconsin. Duke was paired with an historically weak East Region, of which MSU was the survivor.

    Why work so hard to defend Duke?
     
  15. LowCountryCat

    LowCountryCat All-American
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    That's weird, I could have sworn they were a 9. Oh well.
     
  16. CapnBlubs

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    It would be historically easy. Not denying that. I said it would make the list. Just saying that:
    1) others have had easy paths
    2) it's all luck anyway, so not valid basis for criticism of our team or of any other
    3) on top of that, our luck has been terrible, so we deserve it to work out for once
     
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  17. mrbud

    mrbud Blue Chip Prospect
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    Really think we can make the final4 , it sucks that Vegas now has duke the favorite. Please someone beat them, if they win it fat Capel and the raft will use it against cal.
     
  18. CapnBlubs

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    But I do get what you mean about seeding...we could make another list based on minimum opponent value for each level.

    For 1 seeds, it's 30 as I mentioned...so the top one was +17.

    For 4 seeds, it's 21. So Arkansas above was +22.

    As a 5 this year, our minimum is 19. If we do in fact play Loyola and win, we would be at +26.

    Another important note/reminder for anyone reading...this list doesn't include teams that had clear paths and failed. Only eventual regional winners. I think I remember the absolute highest potential one I saw was 2011 KU but then they lost to VCU in the Elite 8.
     
  19. lkc1234

    lkc1234 Junior
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    So why didn't you do the research and post it? Thanks to the OP for taking the time that you did not take.
     
  20. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    That is the OP...
     
  21. Smashcat

    Smashcat All-American
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    Understatement.
     
  22. Smashcat

    Smashcat All-American
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    That Notre Dame team had won the ACC tournament as well.
     
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  23. cats2010

    cats2010 Senior
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    Spouting a lie over and over doesn’t make it true. Can’t tell you how often I read on here how Duke was gifted 2010 and 2015 titles that should have been ours when both years they beat teams we failed to beat. In 2010 they didn’t get stuck with WV in their region but had to beat them in the final four and did it rather easily so not sure what you mean.

    2015 we absolutely got the short end of the stick. Had the best team and it wasn’t close and was dealt the toughest bracket of them all. Still we failed to win even though we should have and Duke once again capitalized beating the team in the championship that we just lost to. If pointing out facts is defending then I guess I’m guilty.
     
  24. the nail at the foul line

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    A 4.
     
    24 the nail at the foul line, Mar 19, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
  25. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    What I mean is that they were given an easier path to the Final Four in 2010 than we were. I never said they were gift-wrapped a title. Just that they were given an easier path. And they were.
     
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  26. FrankUnderwood

    FrankUnderwood All-SEC
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    Well done OP!
     
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  27. bthaunert

    bthaunert All-American
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    Good research OP! Always enjoy stats like this. Amazing how our seed lines have stayed pretty true through the years. Crazy to think we could finish top 4 on this list as a 5 seed. We deserve a break!
     
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  28. Xception

    Xception All-American
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    Posters used to throw around paranoia concerning NCAA decisions, recent events have silenced them.
     
  29. SomeDudeCRO

    SomeDudeCRO Senior
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    You don't get what he means because you clearly aren't paying attention.. of that is what you are guilty of, not pointing out your selective facts, most people do that when they have a weak argument.

    WVU was by all metrics the 5th best team that year was in serious contention for a 1 seed... they should've been placed with the weakest 4 (Duke). It is one thing to beat a team with a week to prepare for them, it's another to beat them in a hostile environment with only a day to prepare. It's also one thing to beat a team at full compliment, another when they are reeling from a somewhat horrific injury to their best player and senior leader.

    Duke has never played UNC in the tournament... contrast this with Kentucky who will be paired with rivals Louisville, Indiana or Tennessee nearly every time it is remotely feasible.
     
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  30. cats2010

    cats2010 Senior
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    So you think having to beat a 3 seeded Baylor with the game played in Texas was easier than us having to play WV with a point guard who had a broken hand?
     
  31. TheBlueDisciple

    TheBlueDisciple Blue Chip Prospect
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    Look at the potential Final Four matchups though. That’s where it opens up. Michigan should already be home and is living on borrowed time. Gonzaga is the only decent team left standing in the way of the title game, and “decent team” is about the best praise you can muster as nothing about them is too scary.

    Still, you play who is in front of you and that’s all that you can control.
     
  32. cockydevil06

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    duke fan here. that purdue team had 5 losses entering the tournament, and would have been at worst a 3 seed had hummel not been injured. yes, they were without hummel, but it's not like they were a 2 or 3 seed, they were the 4th seed. they also beat their 13 and 5 seed to make it to the sweet 16, and finished the season at 15 on kenpom. Where do you think they should have been seeded?
     
  33. SomeDudeCRO

    SomeDudeCRO Senior
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    They almost lost that game to Baylor, had one of the most questionable charge block calls you are likely to ever see in Basketball in the critiical final moments of the game.

    Playing an athletic Baylor team was the most difficult game that happened to fall to them that run.

    There is a limit to how easy a bracket can be made.
     
  34. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    I think playing a Baylor team that had never accomplished anything was much easier than playing the Big East tourney champs at a Big East venue. Yes.

    I’m just going to go ahead and mark you down as “Duke fan” and move along. You are working way too hard on this.
     
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  35. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    They were right where they were supposed to be. Lined up as Duke’s sacrificial lamb.

    Let me say this without equivocation...I would have traded brackets with Duke 10 times out of 10 in 2010. Every UK fan I know felt the same way.
     
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  36. cockydevil06

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    that's a poor attempt at dodging a legit question. should they have been a 7 seed? a 10? If they were so clearly a sacrificial lamb, then they must have been given a much higher seed, right?

    if you want to trade brackets with duke, then good for you. but if you want to make a claim that duke was given an easy path, then you need some sort of objective support for your claim if you want to be taken seriously.
     
  37. Aike

    Aike All-American
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    I’m not going back and redrawing the 2010 bracket. I would have seeded them lower, but they were seeded exactly where I expected them to be. I’m sure they were exactly where you Duke fans expected as well.

    If you want to dig through the archives and read the discussion about this from 8 years ago, be my guest.
     
  38. mj2k10

    mj2k10 All-American
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    This x1000. Ditto 2015.

    Any Duke fan who claims they would have switched with UK either of those years is a liar. And another year since Cal has been here where UK and Duke had the same seed was 2016, when, again, almost any UK fan would have traded places with Duke.

    All 3 of those years, BTW, UK was higher on the seed line than Duke.

    People have an instinctual idea that there's supposed to be some level of fairness to the brackets, meaning higher seeds get easier paths, or equal seeds get relatively equal paths. There are structural issues that make that difficult (geographic emphasis taken to idiot levels), but fans are bound to notice when there are 3 different times that a higher rated UK team gets a more difficult path on the same seed line as lower rated Duke.
     
    38 mj2k10, Mar 19, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2018
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  39. PhattyJ4UK

    PhattyJ4UK All-American
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    It was just given to you

    West Virginia should have been your 2 seed.


    Also, 2015. 5 teams in contention for 1 seed. Kentucky Wisconsin and Arizona miraculously wind up on the same side of the bracket. Wisconsin should have been paired with duke. It's not rocket science.. the overall #1 Is supposed to have the weakest 2. It NEVER happens for Kentucky. And both times in recent memory, they've given it to duke.
     
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  40. mj2k10

    mj2k10 All-American
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    No, but they should have been paired with one of the teams that was clearly higher on the 1 seed line, meaning Kansas or UK, especially considering the fact that Duke, which should have been the last 1 seed at best (even though the selection committee decided to crap on a Syracuse team that had a much superior regular season to Duke), was also paired with what was CLEARLY the weakest 2 seed.

    Duke did nothing to earn an easier path than UK in 10, 15, or 16, yet that is what they got each time.
     
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