There’s one interesting tidbit about ranking the Sweet 16 teams during any NCAA Tournament. They all won at least two games during March Madness, and they’ve survived to the second weekend of the world’s greatest tournament. Still, as Yahoo Sports displayed, there are multiple ways to figure out the top teams.
So, a lot of times it’s difficult figuring out which teams are playing best, which teams are plain lucky, and which teams have the capability of making a Final Four run. Sometimes, match ups can determine your NCAA Tournament fate. After all, each team left in the field is only two wins away from a trip to Houston.
All four No. 1 seeds advanced to the second weekend, and they all did it in different ways. Kansas jumped out to big leads in the first half, and never looked back. Meanwhile, North Carolina has been tournament tested in the first half of each game, and dominated the second half. Virginia and Oregon had easy blowouts in round one, but had to grind out wins in their second round match ups.
Only two double digit seeds made it to the Sweet 16. No. 11 Gonzaga and No. 10 Syracuse will face each other for a spot in the Elite 8. By far, Gonzaga has had the toughest road by seed. Yet, they have completely dominated their opponents in the first weekend.
The West is the only region where the top four seeds advanced into the Sweet 16. The South region has the top three seeds and five seed Maryland in the field. In the East, seeds 2-4 all lost, giving way to 5-7 seeds. The Midwest is the only bracket busted with a pair of double digit seeds.
Here are the Sweet 16 rankings
1. North Carolina Tar Heels- East Region
Tournament Wins: (16) Florida Gulf Coast, (9) Providence
Next Game (5) Indiana Hoosiers
Despite two double digit wins, the Tar Heels haven’t had it easy. They’ve played well in the first half of games, but the intensity really picked up in both second halves. Their defense has to be up to par against the hot shooting Indiana Hoosiers from the opening tip. Brice Johnson has been a stud for the Tar Heels. He dominated with 39 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots in the first two rounds. Will Carolina’s size be the difference in the Sweet 16?
2. Kansas Jayhawks- South Region
Tournament wins: (16) Austin Peay, (9) UCONN
Next Game (5) Maryland Terrapins
Kansas hasn’t had to sweat in either tournament game yet. Their early dominance helped stomp out any nerves a high seed would have entering the first weekend of March Madness. The Jayhawks held 20 point leads at halftime of both games. It was a total team effort, giving the Jayhawks their 16th straight win. Will the pressure of the long win streak hamper the Jayhawks’ Final Four hopes?
3. Villanova Wildcats – South Region
Tournament Wins: (15) UNC-Asheville, (7) Iowa
Next Game: (3) Miami Hurricanes
The Wildcats may seem a little high, but they’ve been highly impressive in their first two games. Their explosive offense has rolled the first two opponent. The Wildcats shot 46 percent from 3-point range in round one, and 52.6 percent from deep in the second round. They’ve also played incredible defense during March Madness.
4. Virginia Cavaliers- Midwest Region
Tournament Wins: (16) Hampton, (9) Butler
Next Game: (4) Iowa State Cyclones
Remember when the Cavaliers were a defensive juggernaut? Well, it’s been the offensive output that pushed Virginia into the Sweet 16. So far, they are averaging 79 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. They may need those numbers to ousts their next opponent. Iowa State has plenty of ability to score, so pace of play will be the biggest key.
5. Oklahoma Sooners- West Region
Tournament Wins: (15) Cal-Baker, (10) VCU
Next Game: (3) Texas A&M Aggies
This has been the season of Buddy Hield. He scored 36 points in their second round win over VCU. The Sooners are facing the team of destiny, so they’ll have to play a full 40 minutes to earn an Elite 8 berth. The Sooners are averaging 83.5 points per game in the first two rounds.
6. Oregon Ducks- West Region
Tournament Wins: (16) Holy Cross, (8) St. Joes
Next Game: (4) Duke Blue Devils
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, the Oregon Ducks were the unknown commodity. They received the fourth No. 1 seed and backed it up with a pair of strong victories. As the only PAC-12 school left in the tournament there’s still questions about Oregon’s chances of making the Final Four. They are facing the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils, so the Sweet 16 contest could be the toughest en route to a championship game.
7. Duke Blue Devils- West Region
Tournament Wins: (13) UNC-Wilmington, (12) Yale
Next Game (1) Oregon Ducks
The Blue Devils had a pair of wins by a total of 15 points. Both games were against double digit seeds, but they were worthy participants. Once Duke held off Yale after a phenomenal first half, they have become the hunter again. The Blue Devils are the lowest seed in the region, while having the a potential No.1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Will Duke be able to keep pace with the Ducks?
8. Gonzaga Bulldogs- Midwest Region
Tournament Wins: (6) Seton Hall, (3) Utah
Next Game (10) Syracuse Orange
If we’re keeping track, the Gonzaga Bulldogs may have been the most impressive team over the first two rounds. First of all, they played the highest seeds of any Sweet 16 team. The Bulldogs dismantled Seton Hall by 16 and Utah by 23 points in easy victories. One reason was the stellar defense. In the first round, they held Isaiah Whitehead to 10 points on 4/24 shooting. The next game, they held Utah’s Jakob Poeltl to five points.
9. Miami Hurricanes- South Region
Tournament Wins: (14) Buffalo, (11) Wichita State
Next Game: (2) Villanova Wildcats
The Hurricanes can match Villanova’s guards on the perimeter, and their big men in the paint. Both teams rely on perimeter play, so Angel Rodriguez will be the key to running the show. Rodriguez had a career high 28 points in a win over Wichita State, but he also had seven turnovers. The Hurricanes must take care of the ball if they expect to make a trip to the Elite 8.
10. Iowa State Cyclones- Midwest Region
Tournament Wins: (13) Iona, (12) Little Rock
Next Game (1) Virginia Cavaliers
The Cyclones had the benefit of playing a pair of double digit seeds in the first two rounds. If they win again, they’ll play another double digit seed for a chance at a Final Four berth. However, Iowa State has to deal with top seeded Virginia. Georges Niang has been on a tear, averaging 28 points in the first two rounds.
11. Indiana Hoosiers- East Region
Tournament Wins: (12) Chattanooga, (4) Kentucky
Next Game: (1) North Carolina Tar Heels
The Indiana Hoosiers took down mighty Kentucky in a thrilling game. Their speed and shooting ability should give the Tar Heels a lot to handle. If it becomes a 3-point contest the Hoosiers will be moving on. Thomas Bryant must play well and without fouling for the Hoosiers.
12. Wisconsin Badgers- East Region
Tournament Wins: (10) Pittsburgh, (2) Xavier
Next Game: (6) Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The toughness of the Wisconsin Badgers was never more evident than their two wins over the weekend. After scoring 16 points in the first half of the Pitt game, the Badgers roared back to score 47 points in a four point victory. Then Bronson Koenig hit a pair of threes to knock Xavier out of the tournament. Still, they’ll need offensive production from Nigel Hayes if the Badgers are going to make a third straight Final Four.
13. Maryland Terrapins- South Region
Tournament Wins: (12) South Dakota State, (13) Hawaii
Next Game: (1) Kansas Jayhawks
Maryland played tough defense down the stretch of both games. They needed a stop to fight off a game-tying shot in round one. In the second round, Maryland blitzed Hawaii in the second half. They turned a one point lead into a 13 point win. They also held Hawaii to 32.9 percent from the field. They will need the defense to travel in their Sweet 16 match up with Kansas. Can Melo Trimble control the tempo against the top seeded Jayhawks?
14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- East Region
Tournament Wins (11) Michigan, (14) Stephen F. Austin
Next Game (7) Wisconsin Badgers
Notre Dame was almost toast in the second round. Trailing by five points, the Fighting Irish scored six straight, including a game-winning tip to win with two seconds left. They defeated Stephen F. Austin, and Michigan without their best performance. It’s clear, Notre Dame doesn’t fear coming back from a deficit. They’ll be facing a Wisconsin team that had to make clutch plays too.
15. Texas A&M Aggies- West Region
Tournament Wins: (14) Green Bay, (11) Northern Iowa
Next Game: (2) Oklahoma Sooners
Oh, the Texas A&M Aggies are still around. Their season was over, and then the inevitable didn’t happen. Will the Aggies play loose? If they do, they could be the team of destiny. Texas A&M could also be content with their double overtime win over Northern Iowa. Can the Aggies slow down Buddy Hield for 40 minutes?
16. Syracuse Orange- Midwest Region
Tournament Wins: (7) Dayton, (15) Middle Tennessee
Next Game: (11) Gonzaga Bulldogs
The Syracuse Orange are the last at-large team remaining in the Sweet 16. However, they’ve had a pair of huge victories in the first two rounds. So far, the Orange have averaged 39.5 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament.