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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 about, the other two have clear splits heading into the Sweet Sixteen.
According to the most recent SB Nation Reacts survey, college basketball fans think Gonzaga, Baylor, Alabama, and Loyola will reach the Final Four this year.
The closest vote came in the East Region, where top-seed Michigan hasn’t fully won over voters. Alabama received 36 percent of the vote, narrowly edging out Michigan’s 35%. Florida State is one of the ACC’s two remaining schools alive in the tournament and received just north of 20% of the votes to advance to the Final Four.
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. Can Gonzaga run the table this season?
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. The ACC’s Syracuse came in third with 17% of the votes.
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. Receiving under 10% of the votes was early season contender Villanova, who the Hokies beat in the opening weeks of the season, but will have to advance without several key players due to injury.
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. Virginia Tech’s game against Florida made the ballot for this question but failed to register many votes.
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. Can he help lead Oral Roberts to another upset over Arkansas?
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. The Orange would first have to get past 2-seed Houston and then take on the winner between Loyola Chicago and Oregon State.
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