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Tennessee’s path to the final four just got a lot easier

Huge developments in the South Region.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Virginia vs UMBC Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the NCAA Tournament, the South Region was labelled as the “region of death” by some. Boasting the nation’s top ranked team in Virginia, along with two of the hotter teams in the country in Kentucky and Arizona, getting out of the south appeared like it would be quite the task for Tennessee.

That path has gotten considerably easier after the first round.

UMBC completed their historic take down of the Virginia Cavaliers tonight, controlling the game from the start of the second half on. This coming on the heels of Buffalo’s dominant win over the Arizona Wildcats just one night before.

Suddenly, the two favorites out of the south are heading home early. Tennessee, Kentucky and Cincinnati are your new favorites to emerge out of the south, each of whom took care of business in the first round.

Kentucky’s road to the elite eight looks particularly manageable, with a game against Buffalo, followed by a matchup against UMBC or Kansas State.

Wouldn’t it be something to meet Kentucky for a fourth time?

That’s probably looking entirely too far ahead, especially with a tough matchup looming with Loyola-Chicago on Saturday. But there’s no denying this — Tennessee has as good of a shot as any to make the final four out of their region.

They have exactly zero final four appearances and just one visit to the elite eight.

As we’ve seen now, literally anything can happen — but it’s hard not to be excited about Tennessee’s shot.