It’s been a wild ride to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament but there is plenty of quality left. All four No. 1 seeds have survived to this point, along with two No. 2’s, two No. 3’s, two No. 4’s, and two No. 5’s.
The lowest seed still in the mix is No. 11 Gonzaga (-4.5 favorites for their Sweet Sixteen matchup), who will be taking on the second lowest seed, No. 10 Syracuse. Remember how people said Syracuse didn’t belong? Well, they’re in the Sweet Sixteen and could go further. Their signature 2-3 zone has held their first two opponents to just 50.5 points per game.
With so many lower seeds remaining in the Midwest, that figures to benefit Virginia (-5), who is the No. 1 seed in that region. Many people felt they wouldn’t go far with Michigan State lurking, but they don’t have to worry about them anymore as they were shockingly ousted in the first round. The Cavs face Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen.
In the East, No. 1 seed North Carolina (-5.5) is clearly favored as they don’t have to deal with anyone higher than a No. 5 seed. All that’s left for them is No. 5 Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen and then either No. 6 Notre Dame (-1) or No. 7 Wisconsin – both of whom needed last-second miracles to survive the opening weekend – in the Elite Eight.
While the right side of the bracket has had plenty of parity, the left side has played out mostly by the books. In the South, the No. 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds remain, and in the West the top four seeds have all survived.
Starting with the West, we’re going to see a couple of intriguing showdowns in the Sweet Sixteen. No. 1 Oregon (-2) will have to prove themselves versus No. 4 Duke, who has breezed through the first two rounds. Duke has plenty of pedigree while Oregon is new to this role. They haven’t made the Final Four since 1939, so we’ll see if they’re up for the challenge.
In the bottom half of the West bracket, we’ll see two former Big 12 rivals clash as No. 3 Texas A&M faces off with No. 2 Oklahoma (-1.5). The Aggies have never made it past the Sweet Sixteen.
In the South, the tournament favorite, No. 1 seed Kansas (-6.5), has cruised to the Sweet Sixteen, winning by double digits both times. If they can avoid fouling No. 5 Maryland, they should have the balance to advance. Maryland has gone 52 of 58 from the free throw line through their first two games of March Madness.
If they survive, Kansas could face a stiff challenge from No. 3 Miami or No. 2 Villanova (-4.5), both of whom have been on fire at the offensive end. Miami has averaged 72 points per contest in the NCAA Tournament while Villanova has averaged 86.5 while shooting better than 57%.