For all the talk about lower seeds wreaking havoc on the NCAA Tournament brackets, the Sweet 16 turned out to be a high major paradise. The entire story of March Madness hasn’t been written, but the story was sure to be far different if games were only 39 minutes 50 seconds long.
Although a record 10 double digit seeds won a game in the first round, most didn’t have success going forward. We’ve all seen the collapse by Northern Iowa, but there were other teams that seemed destined to play in the Sweet 16 as well. Stephen F. Austin lost a five point lead, losing on a last second tip-in. Meanwhile, other Mid-Majors relinquished chances to make historic NCAA Tournament runs.
If you were looking for more Mid-Majors to make a run to the Final Four, this is not the season for you. Despite the first two rounds being one of the best of any NCAA Tournaments on record, there will be a bunch of Goliath’s taking center stage come Thursday.
Eight of the Sweet 16 teams won by single digits in the second round. However, the two lowest seeds left in the field had the biggest margin of victories over the weekend. Gonzaga and Syracuse both won by more than 20 points.
The Kansas Jayhawks and North Carolina Tar Heels have been as advertised. They should maintain their favorite status as the third round approaches.
Here are the 10 takeaways entering the 2016 March Madness Sweet 16.
1. All four No. 1 seeds advance
Coming into March Madness, the No. 1 seeds had the most losses ever. The 23 combined defeats didn’t have a bearing in the first two rounds, but will the top seeds be able to win two more games? The Kansas Jayhawks have looked the best, while North Carolina has been a dominant second half team. Both teams face Big Ten squads with the ability to pull off the surprise. Virginia and Oregon will have their hands full with adept offenses in the Sweet 16 round.
2. Mid-Major disappearance
Only one Mid Major program arrived in the Sweet 16. The No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs had to win their conference tournament just to make the field of 68. They’ve been in a groove ever since. With losses by Stephen F. Austin and Northern Iowa, the Sweet 16 is devoid of Cinderella match ups.
3. ACC Conference Record
The ACC earned a record six conference teams in the Sweet 16. As a whole, the ACC is 12-1 in the NCAA Tournament, and they have a chance for every team to reach the Elite 8. However, that means the ACC could be completely out of the tournament by Friday night.
4. Double figure winners:
Six teams won both games by Double figures. In the South region, Kansas and Villanova dominated opponents from the start. North Carolina had a pair of impressive victories in the East. Iowa State, Gonzaga, Syracuse have had relatively easy times in the Midwest.
5. PAC-12 Failure
Oregon is the only PAC-12 team in the Sweet 16. Like the ACC, and Big 12, the PAC-12 had seven teams in the tournament. They haven’t had the best experience during March Madness. However, Oregon is capable of holding the banner for the rest of the conference.
6. 2 Double Digit Seeds:
Only No. 10 Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga earned trips to the Sweet 16. They’ve also been as impressive as any teams in the tournament. However, only one will be remaining in the Elite 8. Both teams face off in the final game of the Sweet 16 round.
7. SEC Survives
Texas A&M looked like the SEC wouldn’t have a team in the Sweet 16, but that all changed in about 44 seconds. Are the Aggies a team of destiny? Their win over Northern Iowa sure points to something special going on in Aggieland.
This is the year Villanova last made the Sweet 16. They also had a Final Four run that season. The Wildcats got over a huge obstacle, and seem to be playing freely. Their match up with Miami will be a tough task.
9. Best Scoring Defense
Syracuse is holding opponents to 50.5 points in the Tournament. In the second half, their opponents have scored 23 points in each game. The Orange have outscored the teams by 38 points total. They held Middle Tennessee to 29.7 percent shooting, and Dayton to 32 percent from the field.
10. Best Scoring Offense
The Kansas Jayhawks average 89 points per game in the tournament. After scoring 105 points in the first round, they were held to 73 points in a 12 point win over UCONN. So far, the Jayhawks are shooting over 50 percent from the field. Their Sweet 16 opponent, Maryland held Hawaii to 32.9 percent from the field in round two.