This year’s 2015 NCAA Tournament definitely hasn’t disappointed fans hoping for tons of drama, major upsets, and amazing individual performances.
While almost everyone’s bracket has been blown up by early losses to top ranked teams like Villanova, Iowa State, and Baylor, it has been business as usual for squads like Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Duke, that seemed poised at making a run to the Final Four.
Several lower seeded teams have exceeded expectations like Michigan State, Wichita State, and UCLA, and probably should have been given a higher seed.
Now that we are headed for the 2nd weekend of March Madness, we thought it was time to re-evaluat the remaining teams in the Sweet 16.
Check out our ranking of the Remaining Teams In the Sweet 16………
The Musketeers were a surprising #6 seed entering March Madness, a very gracious seed considering how week overall the Big East was this season. And despite being the biggest benefactor of Baylor bowing out early in the opening round, Xavier made quick work of Ole Miss and Tourney Cinderella Georgia State. The Musketeers have a dominant big man in Matt Stainbrook but now go up against some future pros versus one of the favorites in the entire Tournament in Arizona. This is the 5th Sweet 16 appearance in 8 seasons for Xavier, but they will be a huge underdog this Thursday.
Up Next: vs Arizona(Thurs)
Most feel that the Bruins shouldn’t have even been in the Tournament because of a subpar resume but all they have done is beat 2 consecutive opponents on the way to their 2nd straight Sweet 16 appearance. They have been saved by the sweet shooting of the coach’s son Bryce Alford(9-11 3 PT) and a controversial goal-tending call vs SMU and a coming out party by PF Tony Parker(28 pts, 13 reb, 3 blk) against UAB.
Up Next: vs Gonzaga(Fri)
One of the more under-the-radar good teams in the Tourney heading into the Madness, the Sooners had a pretty easy route to the Sweet 16, beating U of Albany and Dayton. They do feature a future NBA pro in Buddy Hield, but he has struggled in the Tourney(10-29 FG). Veteran coach Lon Kruger could be worth an upset victory alone, but Hield must get on track if the Sooners want to continue “dancing.”
Up Next: vs Michigan State(Fri)
Coach Huggins is one of the most demanding coaches in the country and always gets the most out of his team, as evidence of his squad knocking off the heavily favored Maryland Terps in the Round of 32. The Mountaineers trap as well as any team in the nation and my give Kentucky a game if they can force a tone of turnovers.
Up Next: vs Kentucky(Thurs)
The Pack has been an up-and-down team all season but has posted wins against top teams like Duke, North Carolina, and now Villanova in the Round of 32. PG Anthony “Cat” Barber has been special, averaging 15 ppg in the Tournament. There young frontcourt has been coming of age led by Malik Abu, who now faces a tough individual matchup with potential Lottey pick Montrezl Harrell.
Up Next: vs Louisville(Fri)
The Utes went through a late season swoon heading into March Madness resulting in a mediocre #5 seed. They seem to have righted themselves at the perfect time, beating Stephen F. Austin and Georgetown rather easily. They feature arguably the nation’s best PG in Delon Wright and a star big man in Jakob Poetl(30 pts, 6 blocks in the Tourney), but have they reached their ceiling?
Up Next: vs Duke(Fri)
Note to self…….Don’t ever underestimate a Tom Izzo coached team. In January, the Spartans were looking anything like a Tournament team, but then went on a deep run in the Big Ten Tournament and are playing their best ball entering the Sweet 16. Travis Trice has been magnificent, scoring 23 points in upsetting #2 seeded Virginia. With both Nova and Virginia already out of the East, could we see the Spartans make another Final Four run?
Up Next: vs Oklahoma(Fri)
The Shockers were waiting 22 years to play their in-state rival Kansas, beating the #2 seeded Jayhawks 78-65 in the Round of 32. Surely there was some emotions involved but the Shockers have made a deep Tourney run 3 consecutive years, including a trip to the Final Four two seasons ago. They are led by one of the college game’s best floor generals in Fred Van Vleet(44 pts in Tourney) and will be a tough out going forward.
Up Next: vs Notre Dame(Thurs)
Similar to Izzo, Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino keeps winning in March. Many though this team was doomed following the dismissal of starting SG Chris Jones in February, but the Cardinals beat two matchup nightmares in UC Irvine and MVC Champion to advance to the Sweet 16. Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier have been the offensive sparkplugs helping coach Pitino potentially advance to his 8th Final Four.
Up Next: vs NC State(Fri)
The Tarheels are peaking at just the right time, making a deep ACC Tournament run, then beating Harvard and Arkansas pretty easily to reach the Sweet 16. They may be without star big man Kennedy Meeks due to injury, but it appears as if leading scorer Marcus Paige is finally rounding into form following a mediocre regular season.
Up Next: vs Wisconsin(Thurs)
Usually known for their stout defensive, this is easily coach Mike Brey’s most potent offensive teams at ND. They have no doubt earned a lofty #3 seed in the Tourney but have struggled, beating Northeastern by 4 and outlasting Butler in OT. They feature one of the nation’s two-way point guards in Jerian Grant(33 pts, 10 ast in Tourney) and undersized forward Pat Connaughton, who rebounds as well as any player 6’5 and under in the Tournament but can they defend well enough to make a Final Four run?
Up Next: vs Wichita State(Thurs)
For the first time since 2009, Mark Few has advanced to the Sweet 16. This may be his best squad featuring former Kentucky transfer Kyle Wiltjer(23.5 ppg in the Tourney) as well as star PG Kevin Pangos(33 Pts in Tourney). Gonzaga made easy work of North Dakota State and Iowa and have enough talent to make a deep Tourney run.
Up Next: vs UCLA(Fri)
The Badgers were one of the odds-on favorites to challenge Kentucky in this year’s Tourney. But some my be 2nd guessing Bo Ryan’s squad following getting a scare against Oregon in the Round of 32. That would be a mistake, as they feature potential NCAA POY Frank Kaminsky(21.5 ppg, 9.5 reb) as well as the most fundamentally sound squad still in the Tourney, but do they need the services of injured starter Traevon Jackson to win a National Title?
Up Next: vs North Carolina(Thurs)
Possessing perhaps the best starting 5 in the college game, the Wildcats seem on a mission to make the Final Four, easily besting Texas Southern and Ohio State to reach the Sweet 16. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been amazing, averaging 17 pts and 10 boards in the Tourney, as well as locking down OSU star frosh D’Angelo Russell in the Round of 32. Another win and we all get to see a dream matchup of Arizona and Wisconsin in the Elite 8.
Up Next: vs Xavier(Thurs)
Next to Kentucky, the Blue Devils may be playing better than anyone heading into the Tournament’s 2nd weekend. POY candidate Jahlil Okafor has been his usual beastly dominant self(23.5 ppg, 21-27 FG) but has gotten a huge effort from forward Justise Winslow(23 rebounds in Tourney). Coach K has been here before but now is just 2 wins away from his 12th Final Four or 4 wins from a 5th National Championship.
Up Next: vs Utah(Fri)
The most dominant NCAA team we’ve seen in more than a decade continues it roll towards an improbably undefeated season. The Wildcats stand at 36-0 and really weren’t tested by either Hampton of Cincinnati but remain the most talented team in the field. The Cats are at their best with an aggressive Andrew Harrison(13 pts vs Bearcats) and Karl Anthony-Towns(21 pts, 11 reb vs Hampton) but are anchored by POY candidate Willie Cauley-Stein(13 reb, 4 blk), who can guard anyone on the floor. They are an anomaly in that even when they struggle, they emerge victorious because of some amazing depth and a bevy of NBA talent. Enjoy the ride since 40-0 is now within their sites.
Up Next: vs West Virginia(Thurs)