As conference play and conference tournaments came to an end, March Madness made its appearance.
The end goal for every Division 1 collegiate basketball team is to take place in this iconic tournament, as 68 teams kick off the tournament and eventually dwindle down to just 16 teams before continuing to the Elite Eight, Final Four and finally the national championship.
March Madness began Tuesday, March 19, with 68 teams in the competition. Four failed to make the round of 64. After round one, the 32 winning teams moved on to compete against each other, whereafter half of those 32 teams moved on to the Sweet 16.
The 3-seed Texas Tech men’s basketball team is making its second consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16 under the reign of Tech coach Chris Beard. The Red Raiders ended the season with a 26-5 overall record and a 14-4 Big 12 record, according to Tech Athletics.
This Tech team wrote its name in the record books after splitting a claim to the Big 12 regular season title with Kansas State. The Red Raiders became the first team to take home the regular season trophy in program history. The Red Raiders’ record season landed them the 3-seed in the west bracket of the NCAA Tournament.
The Red Raiders kicked off the tournament by taking down the 14-seed in the west bracket, Northern Kentucky, 72-57, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, before moving on to 6-seeded Buffalo. After a 78-58 victory over the Bulls, Tech moved on to the Sweet 16, where it will take on 2-seed Michigan in Anaheim, California, at 8:39 p.m. Thursday, March 28, according to NCAA.com.
The Michigan Wolverines enter the Sweet 16 with an overall record of 30-6, going 15-5 in conference play, which earned them the 2-seed in the west bracket. On their journey to the Sweet 16, Michigan has successfully taken down 15-seed Montana in round one, 74-55, and the tougher 10-seed Florida, 64-49.
Along with Tech and Michigan, 4-seed Florida State and 1-seed Gonzaga join them in the west bracket and will compete against each other at 7:09 p.m. Thursday. With the top four seeds all making it to the Sweet 16, the bracket has been “chalk” so far, with no upsets in the second round.
The Florida State Seminoles enter the Sweet 16 with a 29-7 record, last falling to Duke in the ACC Tournament. Despite the loss in the Conference Tournament, Florida State earned the 4-seed and took down 13-seed Vermont, 76-69, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and went on to claim a victory over 12-seed Murray State, 90-62, to make it to the Sweet 16.
Earning the 1-seed in the west bracket and making its fifth-straight Sweet 16 appearance, Gonzaga enters at 32-3 overall and an undefeated 16-0 in West Coast Conference play. Despite their undefeated conference play run, the Bulldogs fell to St. Mary’s in the final round of the West Coast Conference Tournament, according to Gonzaga Athletics.
Gonzaga ripped through 16-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round, 87-49, before dominating 9-seed Baylor in round two, 83-71.
Moving on to the east bracket, the top four teams, 1-seed Duke, 2-seed Michigan State, 3-seed LSU and 4-seed Virginia Tech will compete against each other in the fight to make it out of the east bracket and into the Final Four. Like the west bracket, the east bracket has been chalk up to this point, with all four top teams still in contention.
The east bracket Sweet 16 games will both take place on Friday, March 29. 3-seed LSU and 2-seed Michigan St. will be the first to tip off at 7:09 p.m., followed by 1-seed Duke and 4-seed Virginia Tech, according to NCAA.com.
The Blue Devils were awarded the top spot with a 31-5 overall record and 14-4 record in Atlantic Coastal Conference play and secured another ACC Championship after defeating Florida State, 73-63, in the championship game.
Duke’s road to the Sweet 16 started with a breeze after defeating 16-seed North Dakota State, 85-62, but that run almost came to an end after the 9-seed UCF Knights put up a fight. Duke pulled through and took the Knights down,77-76 despite a late-game scare.
Competing against the Blue Devils is 4-seed Virginia Tech, but these two teams have met once before during conference play where the Hokies took down Duke, 64-63, and will be looking to do it once again to advance to the Elite Eight.
To get to this round, Virginia Tech dominated 13-seed Saint Louis, 66-52, in round one and 12-seed Liberty, 67-58, in round two.
Rounding out the east bracket, 3-seed LSU will take on 2-seed Michigan State. The Tigers enter with an overall record of 28-6 and went 16-2 in SEC play, en route to earning a 3-seed. LSU has driven past 14-seed Yale, 79-74, and 6-seed Maryland, 69-67, on their road to Friday’s matchup.
The Spartans entered the Sweet 16 with a 30-6 overall record and a 16-4 conference record and started the tournament by claiming a victory over 15-seed Bradley, 76-65, followed by taking down 10-seed Minnesota in a 20 point rout, 70-50.
The south bracket consists of a slightly less chalk lineup, with 1-seed Virginia, 2-seed Tennessee, 3-seed Purdue and surprise contender 12-seed Oregon, who slipped past the 5- and 13-seeds on its way to the Sweet 16.
Starting off with 12-seed Oregon, who enter at 25-12 overall and 10-8 in Pac-12 Conference play, the Ducks took down Washington, 68-48, in the Pac-12 Championship to advance to the NCAA tournament.
To kick off the tournament, Oregon upset 5-seed Wisconsin, 72-54, and moved on to take down 13-seed UC Irvine, with almost the same result as the upset against Wisconsin, 73-54. The Ducks will be hoping to do it again and take down Virginia.
The Oregon vs. Virginia matchup will have a late tipoff at 9:57 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. The top seed in the south bracket, Virginia last fell to Florida State, 69-59, in the ACC Tournament. However, the Cavaliers season was not over as they earned their spot in the NCAA Tournament and took down 16-seed Gardner-Webb, 71-56, and 9-seed Oklahoma, 63-51.
Two-seed Tennessee and 3-seed Purdue will face each other in the Sweet 16 on their way to the Elite Eight at 7:29 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, according to NCAA.com. The Vols made their way to the third round after taking down 15-seed South Carolina, 77-70, and the 10-seed Iowa in an overtime thriller, 83-77.
Purdue had it easy leading up to the Sweet 16 as it dominated 14-seed Old Dominion, 61-48, and reigning champion 6-seed Villanova, 87-61. The Boilermakers enter with a 25-9 overall record and a 16-4 conference record, according to Purdue Athletics.
Last but not least the midwest bracket, which consists of 1-seed North Carolina and 5-seed Auburn facing off at 7:29 p.m. on Friday, March 29, and 2-seed Kentucky and 3-seed Houston, who will tip off at 9:57 p.m. on Friday, according to NCAA.com.
Making their first appearance in the Sweet 16 since winning it all in 2017, North Carolina earned the 1-seed in the midwest and sit at 29-6 overall and 16-2 in conference play, according to UNC Athletics. The Tar Heels fell to Duke by one point, 74-73, to end their ACC Tournament run early.
On their road to the Sweet 16, the Tar Heels took down 16-seed Iona, 88-73, before taking down 9-seed Washington, 81-59, securing their spot in the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tar Heels are taking on the 5-seed Auburn Tigers, who claimed victory by a single point over 12-seed New Mexico State, 78-77, in the first round and advanced onto the second round to upset 4-seed Kansas, 89-75.
The last two teams facing off in the bracket are Kentucky and Houston. The Cougars earned their 3-seed with only three losses on the season at 33-3 overall, according to Houston Athletics.
Houston took down both its first and second round opponents by double digits, dominating 14-seed Georgia State, 84-55, and moving on to take down 11-seed Ohio State, 74-59, to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984, in which the Cougars lost back-to-back national championships.
Following Thursday and Friday’s matchups the winning teams will advance to the Elite Eight, which will be hosted for the west and east brackets on Saturday, March 30, followed by the south and midwest brackets the following day on Sunday, March 31.