2017 NCAA Tournament: SportsLine data, history say Kentucky a Final Four longshot

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The good news for Duke, Arizona, Louisville and Kentucky in this year’s NCAA Tournament? They’re No. 2 seeds. 

The bad news? Only six times, since the advent of seeding in 1979, has a pair of No. 2 seeds advanced to the Final Four in the same year, the most recent being last year with Villanova and Oklahoma. Translation: if history is any indication, only one of these No. 2s, at most, is going to end up in Phoenix, and SportsLine simulations say that Kentucky has the worst odds at just a 12.7 percent chance of making the Final Four. 

The reason? 

Potential consecutive-round dates with Wichita State and UCLA. 

Historically, 2-seeds have been surprisingly vulnerable against 10-seeds in second-round matchups, losing 40 percent of those games (33-22) since 1979, and Wichita State is no regular 10-seed. Prevailing opinion is that at 30-4 for the season, the Shockers got a raw deal and should be closer to a 5 or 6-seed. KenPom has the Shockers as a top-10 team in the country, which is why they’re favored by 6.5 points over first-round opponent Dayton, a 7-seed. 

If Wichita State gets by Dayton as most expect, that’s a brutal second-round matchup for UK.

Then, on the heels of that, if seeds hold, the Cats would get UCLA in the Sweet 16. Remember, UCLA beat UK at Rupp Arena early in the year and is a legit national-title threat. Running that gauntlet is asking enough, and then to possibly have to get by No. 1 seed North Carolina for a Final Four berth, well, now you’re starting to understand the 12.7 percent chance.

That said, we’re all expecting some true madness in this year’s dance. Any one of 10 teams can probably make a legit claim as a national title threat, and Kentucky is one of them. But if they’re going to get to Phoenix, they’re going to have to earn it. 

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