ESPN's Jay Bilas explains why Michigan is the No. 1 seed with toughest road to Final Four
The NCAA Tournament has officially turned the page to the Sweet 16.
The opening rounds of March Madness came to an end on Monday night, and Michigan was one of three No. 1 seeds to advance to the Sweet 16 and the only B1G team remaining in the tournament. The Wolverines defeated Texas Southern and LSU to advance to the second weekend.
While Michigan has looked solid in the first two games of the tournament, ESPN’s Jay Bilas believes it’s the No. 1 seed with the most difficult path to the Final Four. The combination of potential opponents — No. 4 Florida State in the Sweet 16 and potentially No. 2 Alabama in the Elite Eight — and the loss of Isaiah Livers presents some challenges.
“To me, it’s not even a close call — Michigan has the toughest path because they’ve got to play Florida State, who’s an outstanding team that’s really deep and athletic,” Bilas said on SportsCenter. “They can shoot the three, spread them out a little bit and they come at you in waves. Like, Florida State can beat Michigan — especially without Isaiah Livers — but so can Alabama. Like, Alabama’s the two seed in that region and Alabama’s one of the best defensive teams in the country and I’m not sure they get enough credit for how much they defend because we’re so mesmerized by the way they play on offense.
“And Alabama showed, in their game against Maryland — they hit 16 threes. I mean, they looked like the Warriors in that game. They shoot 30 of them a game and that’s by design. Their offense is fast-paced, but I think their offense feeds off their defense and their defense is really, really good. So I think — I picked Alabama to go to the Final Four in the beginning. But if Isaiah Livers were healthy, I would’ve had Michigan in there. That’s the big reason why I think their path is tough.”
Michigan will have to play Florida State in the Sweet 16 on Sunday, March 28 at 5 p.m. ET with a chance to reach the Elite Eight. The winner would then play the winner between Alabama and UCLA for a trip to the Final Four.
Following Michigan’s win over LSU, head coach Juwan Howard said Livers was still “out indefinitely.”