Re­shaped NCAA Sweet 16 bracket

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Aaron Beard

greenville, s.c.» The At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence’s strong reg­u­lar sea­son only stood to set up a first-week­end flame­out in the NCAA Tour­na­ment.

The league had a record nine bids, but North Carolina is the only one alive in the Sweet 16. And the South Re­gion’s No. 1 seed was for­tu­nate to sur­vive a sec­on­dround game against Arkansas to get there.

Still, top seeds Gon­zaga, Kansas and Carolina head­line a re­gional round fea­tur­ing 12 of the top 16 seeds, two more than last sea­son.

The rest of the top con­fer­ences fared much bet­ter than the ACC. The Pac-12 is 7-1 and the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence is 7-2 so far, join­ing the Big 12 (8-3) and Big Ten (8-4) with three Sweet 16 teams each.

Here’s a look at the Fi­nal Four paths for the top re­main­ing teams in each re­gion:

SOUTH

This is the only bracket with the top four seeds still alive, so the Tar Heels’ path looks the same as it did on Se­lec­tion Sun­day.

North Carolina (29-7) needed a game-clos­ing 12-0 run to rally past the eighth­seeded Ra­zor­backs. Now the Tar Heels meet fourth­seeded But­ler (25-8), which beat No. 1 seed Vil­lanova twice this sea­son.

WEST

This is the only other re­gion to have its No. 1 and No. 2 seeds both make the Sweet 16.

No. 11-seed Xavier (23-13) is the low­est-seeded team still in the field af­ter its rout of 3-seed Florida State.

If higher seeds Gon­zaga and Ari­zona hold court, that would set up a re­match of a De­cem­ber game won by the Zags 69-62.

The matchup would of­fer a Fi­nal Four break­through chance for Gon­zaga’s Mark Few or Ari­zona’s Sean Miller, two coaches yet to get there de­spite a com­bined five Elite Eight ap­pear­ances.

MID­WEST

The Mid­west also had three of its top four seeds reach the Sweet 16. But it’s the bot­tom half of the bracket com­mand­ing the most at­ten­tion with No. 7 seed Michi­gan, pos­si­bly the hottest team in the field.

The Wolver­ines (26-11) had a scary mo­ment be­fore the Big Ten Tour­na­ment when the plane set to carry them to Washington slid off a run­way dur­ing an aborted take­off. They played the first game in prac­tice jer­seys, won the league ti­tle, and most re­cently beat 2seed Louisville.

Michi­gan faces No. 3 seed Ore­gon (31-5) in Kansas City, Mis­souri, on Thurs­day. The Jay­hawks (30-4) get fourth-seeded Pur­due (27-7), the Big Ten reg­u­larsea­son cham­pion.

EAST

Wel­come to the lone topsy-turvy bracket af­ter losses by No. 1 over­all seed Vil­lanova and No. 2 seed Duke.

Now third-seeded Bay­lor (27-7) is the high­est re­main­ing seed en­ter­ing a matchup with sev­enth-seeded South Carolina (24-10), which is in the Sweet 16 for the first time in the cur­rent tour­na­ment for­mat af­ter hang­ing 65 se­cond-half points on the pre­sea­son No. 1-ranked Blue Devils in Sun­day’s 88-81 up­set.

Eighth-seeded Wis­con­sin is in the Sweet 16 for the sixth time in seven years and faces No. 4 Florida af­ter dis­patch­ing No. 1 over­all seed and de­fend­ing cham­pion Vil­lanova 65-62.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.