The Sweet 16 field is set. Here’s what went down Sunday and what lies ahead.
Some big upsets and some big almost-upsets
Duke, a team many considered the most impressive collection of talent we’ve since 2014-15 Kentucky, fell to South Carolina, which had the 136th-ranked offense coming into the tournament. The Gamecocks, averaging 17 points above their season average in two tournament games, are headed to their first Sweet 16 in school history.
The Duke stunner and Louisville’s loss to Michigan shows how tough it can be for No. 2 seeds. Only once in the last 21 years have all four No. 2 seeds made it to the Sweet 16. Moritz Wagner led the sizzling Wolverines, winners of seven in a row, with 26 points. Michigan has a Sweet 16 date with…
Midwest No. 3 Oregon survived a Rhode Island upset bid with a 7-0 run to close the game. Tyler Dorsey had 27 points, including a dagger 3 to dispose of the Rams for good.
The Ducks weren’t the only team that needed a late-game spurt to down a feisty underdog. After overcoming a 17-point deficit, Arkansas had North Carolina on the ropes for most of the second half, but a 12-0 run saved the Tar Heels’ season. Kentucky-Wichita State went down to the wire, too, with the Wildcats blocking the Shockers’ game-tying 3 attempt as time expired.
One lonely ACC team remains
The ACC has had, um, better NCAA tournaments. Of the nine schools that received bids, North Carolina is the only one that advances to the second weekend. Small sample size, sure, but it’s hard to characterize March as anything other than a failure for the most prestigious league in the country. The ACC went 1-5 in the Round of 32.
Keep in mind, the league’s nine bids were the most of any conference. The Big East and Big Ten tied for second with seven apiece.
We have a stellar crop of Sweet 16 matchups
The Big Ten: not quite what we thought it was
Well dang, Big Ten. Didn’t see this coming.
Three B1G squads are headed to the Sweet 16. Wisconsin ousted the defending champs. Michigan looks unbeatable. Purdue took out Iowa State, one of the hottest teams in the country. Even Michigan State and Northwestern put forth valiant efforts against juggernauts. What looked like a mediocre league coming into the dance is proving to be anything but.
So, why the recent surge? NCAA.com’s Mike LoPresti searches for answers.
A long way from Taylor University
In 2014, Chris Holtmann was named interim head coach at Butler. He’s since reached three NCAA tournaments and gone 4-2 in the Big Dance. His Bulldogs are Sweet 16-bound for the first time since Brad Stevens roamed the sidelines.
Butler is rather hard to classify, as Lopresti details; too powerful to be a mid-major but not quite thrown in with the biggest fish. Read up on how Holtmann filled a legend’s shoes.
Mark your calendar
Sweet 16 begins: Thursday
Elite Eight begins: Saturday
Final Four in Phoenix: April 1-3