WASHINGTON — The world has spoken: VCU is the No. 10 seed most likely to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
According to ESPN data, the Richmond school has been chosen to upset No. 7 Oregon State in 58.4 percent of brackets, making it the only No. 10 seed a majority expects to win its first game. The closest runner-up to VCU is No. 10 Syracuse, which is chosen in 48.2 percent of brackets to upset No. 7 Dayton.
However, that’s where VCU’s brief Cinderella story is expected to come to a crashing halt. A mere 5.3 percent of brackets have VCU advancing past the second round, where they would face either No. 2 Oklahoma or No. 15 CSU Bakersfield. A whopping 89.3 percent of brackets predict Oklahoma will advance to the Sweet Sixteen, while 4.1 percent take Oregon State and just 1.3 percent have CSU Bakersfield moving on.
If VCU does manage to pull off a second victory, 1.8 percent of brackets have them advancing a round further, to the Elite Eight. From there, 0.5 percent have them making it to the Final Four, 0.1 percent have them making it to the National Championship and 0.1 percent have them winning the title.
As for other local teams, No. 1 seed Virginia is predictably favored to have the longest run. Nationally, it is expected to make it to the Elite Eight, where the consensus is it will lose to No. 2 seed Michigan State. In the first round, 97.3 percent of brackets have them beating No. 16 Hampton, then 88.2 percent have them advancing past the second round, where they would meet either No. 8 Texas Tech or No. 9 Butler (64.5 percent favorites to pull off the slight upset).
If Virginia does make it to the Sweet Sixteen, it is the third most-chosen team (68.3 percent) to advance to the Elite Eight. From there, 22.4 percent of brackets have the Cavaliers making it to the Final Four, 9.7 percent have them making it to the title game and 4.7 percent (sixth highest) have them winning it all.
Maryland, a No. 5 seed, doesn’t get much love from the nation as a potential sleeper pick. Most brackets have them at least winning its first game — 85.1 percent have the Terrapins beating No. 12 South Dakota State — and they’re still nationwide favorites to advance to the Sweet Sixteen (at 54.8 percent, they edge No. 4 Cal, which is favored in 36.1 percent of brackets, and No. 13 Hawaii, which is on just 5.4 percent). After that, the consensus is No. 1 seed Kansas will end their season. A huge 80.4 percent of brackets have the Jayhawks winning in the Sweet Sixteen, while just 8.6 percent favor Maryland.
If the Terrapins do pull out the third-round win, their path would theoretically get a fair bit easier, but fans don’t have much faith; they’re picked to advance to the Final Four by just 5.0 percent of brackets, and 2.3 percent have them winning in the Final Four. A respectable, relatively speaking, 0.9 percent of brackets pick the Terps to win the whole tournament. While that doesn’t sound like a high percentage, it’s the highest among all teams seeded fifth or worse, and it’s higher than No. 3 Utah, No. 4 Iowa State and No. 4 Cal.
It’s highly unlikely, but if the nationwide consensus is accurate, no D.C. area teams will play past the Elite Eight. That would be an incredibly disappointing end to a season for an area that had championship hopes for the Terrapins when the season began, and enters the tournament boasting a No. 1 seed.
Numbers accurate as of 11:00 a.m. Thursday.