Reshaped NCAA Sweet 16 bracket
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.