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After a wild first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, college basketball fans are taking a second look at who will reach the Final Four. While there are two regions fans appear extremely confident on, the other two have clear splits heading into the Sweet Sixteen this weekend.
According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, college basketball fans think Gonzaga, Baylor, Alabama and Loyola will reach the Final Four.
The closest vote came in the East Region, where top-seed Michigan hasn’t fully won over the country. Alabama received 36 percent of the vote, narrowly edging out Michigan’s 35%. It appears not a ton of people are confident in the Seminoles knocking out our one remaining Big Ten team. I disagree but to each their own. Confidence doesn’t appear strong in UCLA either despite their three win weekend.
In the West Region, the clear favorite at the start of the tournament still has almost complete fan confidence. 91 percent of fans believe Gonzaga will reach the Final Four, with both Oregon and USC receiving four percent each as the next closest teams.
The biggest surprise of the vote, and likely of the tournament if it plays out, came from the Midwest Region. With Illinois out, college basketball fans have jumped on the Loyola bandwagon, with 37 percent of fans picking the Ramblers to reach the Final Four. Loyola slightly outpaced two-seed Houston with 35 percent of the vote. I think that is completely fair. I mean really, Loyola is a Big Ten team when you think about it. We’ve adopted them. All this Big Ten slander can go kick rocks in my opinion. Look at our darlings Michigan and Loyola go. Did I mention our Wisconsin Badgers beat this Loyola team? Makes you think!
The South Region also is expected to be chalk, with 74 percent of fans picking Baylor to emerge. Arkansas, the next highest vote-getter, earned 12 percent. That makes a ton of sense since Badger fans know Baylor is the best team in the tournament. You can always hang your hat on losing to the eventual champ. It basically makes you the runner up, right?
Oral Roberts received the lowest percentage of votes in the region, but they have already become the biggest surprise of the tournament. 63 percent of fans said it was more surprising to see ORU reach the Sweet Sixteen than they were to see Illinois lose in the round of 32.
To get into the second weekend, Oral Roberts started their run with a shocking win over two-seed Ohio State. 37 percent of fans believe that was the best game of the first weekend, the highest percentage of any game. That game was phenomenal, and if any Big Ten team has to EMBARRASS the conference the way they did I am glad it was THEE Ohio State University.
The win put not only Oral Roberts on the map, but also its star player Max Abmas. The guard was picked by fans as the player who has made the biggest name for himself during the tournament so far.
Oral Roberts still has an extremely difficult path ahead if they want to reach the Final Four. But if there was a double-digit seeded team to make the national semifinals, fans believe it would be 11-seed Syracuse. It’s hard to argue when they shoot that well and when the 2-3 zone is cooking like it has been. Syracuse is always a tough out.
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