If the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament was any indication, every Sweet 16 game should be a treat. Therefore, ranking the Sweet 16 games is a must. Fans of teams will also have their favorites, but the casual onlooker will be most excited by these contests.
Instead of having multiple Cinderella squads ready to make an improbable run to the Elite 8, there are a bunch of “Blue Bloods” in the field. Unfortunately, there isn’t that one program looking to join the big boys. But there can still be plenty of shockers over the next two days.
Overall, the four No. 1 seeds are still alive. North Carolina and Kansas are joined by Virginia and Oregon. They each face tough battles in their Sweet 16 match ups. All four opponents have spent time in the AP Top 10.
1. No. 5 Indiana (27-7) vs. No. 2 North Carolina (30-6) (Friday, 9:55 p.m. ET)
The best potential game of the Sweet 16 also happens to be the last game of the Sweet 16. The North Carolina Tar Heels have cruised through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Indiana Hoosiers may have the most impressive win of any team in Sweet 16. Their defeat of Kentucky was as solid as they come. The entertainment value of this game is high. Both teams average over 82 points per game, so the score has a chance to reach the century mark.
2. No. 3 Miami (27-7) vs. No. 2 Villanova (31-5) (Thursday, 7:10 p.m. ET)
The Villanova Wildcats and Miami Hurricanes are a legitimate Top 10 match up in the regional semi finals. Miami has a chance to make their first Elite 8 in the history of their program. A premier match up of point guards are also on deck. Angel Rodriguez will battle with Ryan Arcidiacono.
3. No. 4 Duke (25-10) vs. No. 1 Oregon (30-6) (Thursday, 9:55 p.m. ET)
The Oregon Ducks earned the No. 1 seed, but they are a trendy pick to be the first top seed to fall. Why? They are playing the defending national champions in the Sweet 16. Duke is the only team left with a pair of 20 point scorers in the NCAA Tournament. Brandon Ingram and Grayson Allen have been lethal on offense. Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey have to produce. Oregon must attack the Duke defense early and often. Both teams should be able to score at will.
4. No. 3 Texas A&M (28-8) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (27-7) (Thursday, 7:37 p.m. ET)
One team is lucky to be here. The other team has Buddy Hield. Texas A&M is playing with House money. Danuel House didn’t score for 36 minutes, but exploded for 22 points in about 14 minutes of action to make the Sweet 16.
5. No. 4 Iowa State (23-11) vs. No. 1 Virginia (28-7) (Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET)
This game is built on contrasting styles. The Iowa State Cyclones want to get out and run, while Virginia sports one of the best defenses in the country. Yet, it’s been Virginia’s offense to help advance the Cavaliers to the Sweet 16. Georges Niang and Malcolm Brogdon are likely to have some one on one battles to captivate the audience.
6. No. 5 Maryland (27-8) vs. No. 1 Kansas (32-4) (Thursday, 9:40 p.m. ET)
The luster wore off of Maryland during a midseason swoon. However, they are still the same Top 10 team that people thought they were. If they can hang in with Kansas early, this could become the game of the weekend. So far, the Jayhawks have looked invincible during March Madness. That’s why Kansas is the biggest favorite in the Sweet 16.
7. No. 11 Gonzaga (28-7) vs. No. 10 Syracuse (21-13) (Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET)
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, neither team expected to be here. After both teams arrived with huge double figure victories in the first two rounds, one of these double digit seeds will be vying for a Final Four berth. Syracuse and Gonzaga play zone defenses. They haven’t given up 60 points in each of the four games.
8. No. 7 Wisconsin (22-12) vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (23-11) (Friday, 7:27 p.m. ET)
Wisconsin was moments away from losing to Xavier in the second round. A pair of 3-pointers by Bronson Koenig shocked the Musketeers, leading Wisconsin into the Sweet 16. Notre Dame also came back from deficits in both games. A late tip-in gave the Fighting Irish the win over Stephen F. Austin. The winner will be a surprise Elite 8 team.