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The Sweet 16 Is Set

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Mar/26/2021

Heavy at the top and a messy jumble throughout. That is how this year's Sweet 16 shapes up after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. 

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Three of the four No. 1 seeds survived, with Illinois the only one failing to advance. But beyond that, it's a bit of a hot mess, with the sum total of the seeds remaining equaling 94, which breaks a 35-year record set during the 1986 NCAA Tournament. 

Big Ten Blues 

It is the maize and blue of Michigan that is now carrying the torch for the Big Ten. Out is No. 1 seed Illinois. Upset was No. 2 seed Ohio State. 

Gone is No. 2 Iowa, beaten badly by Oregon. No. 4 seed Purdue was a first-round exit, and No. 10 Maryland became Alabama's second-round sacrificial lamb.

In the field of 68, there were a total of nine teams from the Big Ten, and four of those teams were No. 1 or No. 2 seeds. Of those nine teams, only Michigan remains, and it trailed LSU early in the second half in Monday's second-round contest.

Juwan Howard's squad will face Florida State on Sunday, and online bookmakers have the Wolverines as three-point favorites. 

Sweet Cinderellas 

Helping to break the record for the highest total seeds remaining in the Sweet 16 are the four double-digit seeds that have advanced past the second round.

The most improbable of the four is No. 15 seed Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles shocked the world by taking out second-seeded Ohio State in the first round, then followed that up by beating seventh-seeded Florida in the second round. Up next for the Golden Eagles is No. 3 seed Arkansas.

In the Midwest Region, only one of the teams remaining was supposed to be there. That is Houston, the No. 2 seed, now facing off with No. 11 Syracuse. The Orange are in the Sweet 16 after upsetting San Diego State and West Virginia.

No. 12 seed Oregon State is also still alive in the Midwest after beating both Tennessee and Oklahoma State. The Beavers now face another feel-good Cinderella in Loyola Chicago, and online bookmakers have the Beavers as 6½-point underdogs to the favored Ramblers.

The other double-digit seed that remains in the tournament is No. 11 UCLA, which had to play its way in with a game in the First Four against Michigan State. The Bruins entered the NCAA Tournament with four straight losses, landing them in the play-in game. 

But they won three straight games over five days, and now UCLA is in the Sweet 16 for the 35th time in its storied history. 

March Mayhem Round of 16 

If you entered the March Mayhem Bracket Challenge at BetUS and didn't pick Oral Roberts to get to the Sweet 16 — and let's be honest, you didn't — then you aren't going to win the $1 million grand prize.

But you can still enter the Round of 16 Bracket Challenge for a chance to win $10,000. Every $100 you have deposited in your account since March 19 is good for one free entry, which must be used before play begins on Saturday.

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