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Beverly Oden

Which Team Has the Easiest Path to the Final Four?

By November 28, 2012

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Getting to the Final Four is never easy. But as is always the case, some teams have more of a cakewalk than others. There is a decent chance that the top four seeds - Penn State, Stanford, Texas and Nebraska - could make the Final Four this year, which would make for one of the most contested championships we've seen in a while.

Of course it rarely works out that way and there are quite a few teams that could take out these top seeds along the way and mix things up in Louisville. Check out which teams are where and then let me know who you think has the easiest road to Louisville.

No. 1 Penn State will be in the Indiana Regional and will be vying for the school's fifth national championship in six years. It looks like their biggest obstacle will be Minnesota. The Gophers have had an up and down season, but with a coach like Hugh McCutcheon at the helm, they should not be underestimated. If the stars align, they could pull off an upset.

No. 2 Stanford leads the Berkeley regional. The best team they will have to face is conference rival UCLA. The defending national champion Bruins have struggled a little this season, but beating a team like theirs three times in one season can prove very difficult. UCLA does have a shot in this one against a very young Cardinal squad. Also not to be overlooked in this region is Louisville. The Cardinals took Texas to five sets earlier this year and finished the season ranked in the AVCA's top ten.

No. 3 Texas will lead the Austin regional. The biggest threat to their Final Four is probably USC. The Trojans beat Stanford and UCLA once each this season. The Trojans had some breakdowns this year, but showed they have what it takes to pull some big wins off in the playoffs.

Nebraska is the top seed in the Omaha regional, but they'll be competing in what looks to be the toughest region of all. Not only will they have to best the Oregon Ducks who had their best season in a long time and were ranked as high as No. 2 this season, but this region also includes Pepperdine, Dayton, BYU, Washington, Kansas State and Hawaii. Set your DVRs folks, this region could be the one to watch.

So what do you think? This year's field boasts some interesting match ups and some dark horses that could come alive when it counts. Which of the top four teams do you think has the easiest road to the Final Four?

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