Get to Know the Sweet 16

I understand your issues. You loved watching the exciting first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but you’ve used up all your little tidbits of info, like “Murray State has won a lot of games this season.” So, to prep you for Thursday and beyond, here’s all you need to know about the Sweet 16.

9. Northern Iowa Panthers

Conference: Missouri Valley

Location: Cedar Falls, IA

How they got here: def. UNLV 69-66; def. Kansas 69-67

Biggest reason they got here: Ali Farokhmenesh took and made the ballsiest shot in the Tournament since T.J. Sorrentine buried Syracuse in 2005. Oh, and Xavier Henry missed that big free throw.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Never.

A great and recent Tournament game: Umm…did you watch on Saturday?

Tim’s favorite player in UNI history is: Current reserve Lucas O’Rear. You rarely see the combination of a great name, a shamrock tattoo, and mutton chops.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Panthers lasted until: Selection Sunday! I had them going out to UNLV.

You should root for Northern Iowa because: It’s Northern Iowa. QED.

Did you know? Northern Iowa has played eight games in the NCAA Tournament in its history. All eight have been decided by five or fewer points.

Were you aware? If you lined up the rosters of all 16 teams remaining in the Tournament and were told to pick which one comes from Iowa, 96% of people would correctly select the Panthers.

Fun Fact! Ben Jacobson is the best-looking coach in the Sweet 16.

5. Michigan State Spartans

Conference: Big Ten

Location: East Lansing, MI

How they got here: def. New Mexico State 70-67; def. Maryland 85-83

Biggest reason they got here: Korie Lucious rattled home the Tournament’s second pure buzzer beater to close out the most frantic finish March has seen since 2006 (WVU-Texas).

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2009, when the Spartans reached the national championship game.

A great and recent Tournament game: Michigan State’s double-overtime Regional Final victory over Kentucky in 2005.

Tim’s favorite player in State history is: I’d be a poseur if I said Magic, so I’ll go with the closest thing State has had since: Drew Neitzel!

In Tim’s original bracket, the Spartans lasted until: The second round before bowing out to Maryland. So close.

You should root for Michigan State because: Tom Izzo is the best Tournament coach of our time and a nice guy to boot.

Did you know? Tom Izzo came really really really close to calling a timeout on State’s final possession on Sunday, right before Draymond Green found Lucious for the game-winner.

Did you also know? If Izzo had called that timeout, he would have drawn up a play to win the game anyway. Tom Izzo is that good.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

Conference: SEC

Location: Knoxville, TN

How they got here: def. San Diego State 62-59; def. Ohio 83-68

Biggest reason they got here: Georgetown lost.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2008, when the Vols were blown out by Louisville.

A great and recent Tournament game: Tennessee’s first-round survival of Winthrop in 2006.

Tim’s favorite player in Tennessee history is: The man who hit that game-winner, Chris Lofton.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Volunteers lasted until: Right here, where they’ll lose to Ohio State.

You should root for Tennessee because: Skylar McBee plays for the Vols.

Did you know? Head coach Bruce Pearl’s son, Steven, is the first coach’s son to play in the Sweet 16 since Patrick Beilein laced up the hightops for dad John at West Virginia. (I think.)

If Tennessee were a women’s college basketball program, they would be: Ironically, not Tennessee. They’re closer to a Texas A&M—a school with a proud tradition in other sports that is now catching up on the hardwood.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes

Conference: Big Ten

Location: Columbus, OH

How they got here: def. UCSB 68-51; def. Georgia Tech 75-66

Biggest reason they got here: Hmm…let me think…oh, right…EVAN TURNER.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2007, when the Buckeyes lost to Florida in the title game.

A great and recent Tournament game: That ’07 team’s last-second comeback in the second round against Xavier.

Tim’s favorite player in Ohio State history is: You’re thinking that I’m gonna go with Scoonie Penn, right? Wrong. I’ll go with his backcourt mate, Michael Redd.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Buckeyes lasted until: The Regional Final, where they’ll bow out to Kansas!

You should root for Ohio State because: Like the Yankees in last year’s postseason, the Buckeyes are trying to be the first team in a while to win with a limited rotation.

Did you know? The Buckeyes will not bow out to Kansas!

Had you figured out? Judging by his Twitter, Evan Turner seems like a cool guy. But still not as cool as benchwarming teammate, Mark Titus.

1. Syracuse Orange

Conference: Big East

Location: Syracuse, NY

How they got here: def. Vermont, 79-56;  def. Gonzaga, 87-65.

Biggest reason they got here: Wesley Johnson started playing like he did earlier in the season again.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2009, when the Orange were blitzed by Oklahoma.

A great and recent Tournament game: A stretch of recent, but Syracuse’s 1996 Sweet 16 victory over Georgia was one of the three best Tournament games of the ‘90s.

Tim’s favorite player in Syracuse history is: We’re going with a full-blown top five in reverse order: Andy Rautins, Preston Shumpert, Gerry McNamara, Lawrence Moten, and John Wallace. John Wallace was the Danny Manning of the ‘90s, except he came up one game short.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Orange lasted until: They were cutting down the nets in Indianapolis

You should root for Syracuse because: The Orange have the best chemistry in the country. It’s beautiful team basketball.

Did you know? The Orange might have the most riding on the NCAA Tournament as a program. Syracuse has always been a second- or third-tier program in college basketball—one that was routinely competitive but rarely (if ever) dominant. This team is likely the best Jim Boeheim has ever had, and if Syracuse can reach its fourth title game in 24 years (tied with Kansas for the second-most of any program in that span, behind only Duke’s six) and win its second title in eight, the Orange can make a case to be a top-10 program in the country, and maybe even No. 8, behind only UCLA, Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Indiana, and Michigan State.

5. Butler Bulldogs

Conference: Horizon

Location: Indianapolis, IN

How they got here: def. UTEP, 77-59; def. Murray State 54-52.

Biggest reason they got here: The invention of the three-point line.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2007, when they lost to eventual-champion Florida.

A great and recent Tournament game: The 12th-seeded Bulldogs pulled off a second consecutive upset over Louisville to reach the Sweet 16 in 2003.

Tim’s favorite player in Butler history is: Current sophomore forward, Gordon Hayward.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Bulldogs lasted until: Thursday night, when Syracuse will knock them out.

You should root for Butler because: Seeing the Bulldogs in the Final Four in Indianapolis would be very cool.

Did you know? Butler’s last three NCAA Tournament losses have all come to teams from the SEC. This bodes well for the Bulldogs down the line in this Tournament.

If they beat Syracuse: Butler could play back-to-back games against teams it has already beaten this season, Xavier and Ohio State.

Did you notice? Matt Howard just picked up his fourth foul.

6. Xavier Musketeers

Conference: Atlantic-10

Location: Cincinnati, OH

How they got here: def. Minnesota, 65-54; def. Pittsburgh 71-68.

Biggest reason they got here: Kelvin Sampson left Indiana, meaning Jordan Crawford transferred to Xavier.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2009, when the Musketeers lost a tight one to Pitt.

A great and recent Tournament game: Xavier has been on the short end of some close calls, but they did survive West Virginia in overtime in 2008.

Tim’s favorite player in Xavier history is: The guy who almost led the seventh-seeded Muskies past Duke in 2005, Lionel Chalmers.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Musketeers lasted until: This round, where they were to be knocked out by BYU.

You should root for Xavier because: Forget Gonzaga, this is the most accomplished non-BCS program of the decade.

Did you know? Xavier hasn’t made a bad coaching hire in a really long time. Guys like Pete Gillen, Skip Prosser, Thad Matta, and Sean Miller have all used Xavier as a launching pad to a major job. Chris Mack, a Xavier alum, may stick around a bit longer.

Can you believe? The Musketeers are the last Jesuit school standing, outlasting Georgetown, Gonzaga, and Marquette.

2. Kansas State Wildcats

Conference: Big 12

Location: Manhattan, KS

How they got here: def. North Texas, 82-62; def. BYU 84-72.

Biggest reason they got here: BYU decided to give Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente as many open three-point looks as possible in a 40-minute game. ‘Twas not a good strategy.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Way back in 1988, when Lon Kruger and Mitch Richmond took the Wildcats to the Elite Eight, where they were dispatched by Manning and the sixth-seeded Miracles.

A great and recent Tournament game: Hmm…slim pickings. That win over BYU was kinda good, right?

Tim’s favorite player in Kansas State history is: Mitch Richmond just looked good in a purple uniform all those years in Manhattan and Sacramento.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Wildcats lasted until: A second-round loss at the hands of BYU. To be fair, I didn’t know BYU didn’t play defense.

You should root for Kansas State because: The Wildcats try really hard.

Did you know? Kansas State used to wear two-tone purple uniforms. I miss them.

Did you kind of have a feeling that? If someone told you that a major college basketball coach had committed some sort of violent crime against one of his players, Frank Martin would probably be your first guess.

1. Kentucky Wildcats

Conference: SEC

Location: Lexington, KY

How they got here: def. East Tennessee State, 100-61; def. Wake Forest 90-60.

Biggest reason they got here: They’re more talented than any team in the country, and they’re taking the Tournament seriously.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2005, when the Wildcats lost that thrilling Regional Final in double overtime to Michigan State.

A great and recent Tournament game: Somewhat strangely, almost every memorable Kentucky Tournament game over the last two decades is a loss. Let’s go with the first of their three straight come-from-behind victories en route to the ’98 title: the Regional Final revenge on Duke.

Tim’s favorite player in Kentucky history is: I’m not really a UK fan, but umm…Jamal Mashburn was pretty cool.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Wildcats lasted until: The Elite Eight, with West Virginia knocking them out.

You should root for Kentucky because: You should not root for Kentucky. Under no circumstances should you be rooting for Kentucky.

Did you know? Ashley Judd likes Kentucky!

Had you heard? Adolph Rupp was pretty racist.

Doesn’t Kentucky remind you of? Memphis in 2008? When everyone was like, “They’re athletic, but I don’t know if they can go all the way,” and then they started crushing everyone in their path?

You know what was a bad idea? Wake Forest trying to run with Kentucky.

12. Cornell Big Red

Conference: Ivy League

Location: Ithaca, NY

How they got here: def. Temple, 78-65; def. Wisconsin, 87-69.

Biggest reason they got here: The Big Red had one of the best offensive weekends in the history of the NCAA Tournament. They scored 1.38 points per possession against two of the best defensive teams in the country. It was an astounding performance.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Never!

A great and recent Tournament game: Can’t give you great, but I’ll give you recent: Cornell’s win over Temple—the first in Big Red history.

Tim’s favorite player in Cornell history is: I suppose, by default, it’s Ryan Wittman.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Big Red lasted until: They got crushed by Kentucky in the Sweet 16. This marks the second-time ever I correctly predicted a 12-seed in the Sweet 16 (Missouri in 2002 the other).

You should root for Cornell because: They’re playing Kentucky!

Did you know? Colors cannot actually be deemed “bigger” than other colors.

Did you see? Cornell’s logo with the bear in a C captures the dual nature of the bear, as both ferocious and cute.

Can you believe that? Seriously, one of the best offensive weekends in the history of the NCAA Tournament!

11. Washington Huskies

Conference: Pac-10

Location: Seattle, WA

How they got here: def. Marquette, 80-78; def. New Mexico 82-64.

Biggest reason they got here: The simple concept of peaking at the proper time.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2006, when Brandon Roy and Co. were ousted in an overtime thriller by Connecticut. UConn and Washington have played two phenomenal NCAA Tournament games.

A great and recent Tournament game: How about Thursday night’s win over Marquette?

Tim’s favorite player in Washington history is: Roy. How differently would things have gone in 2006 if Roy didn’t pick up a cheap technical against UConn that doubled as his fourth foul? UW probably wins that game and plays George Mason in the Elite Eight. If the Huskies beat the Patriots (distinct possibility), maybe they knock out Florida too. I had that much confidence in Brandon Roy at that time.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Huskies lasted until: A first-round loss to Marquette.

You should root for Washington because: I don’t know…you don’t like West Virginia very much? Or you want to reward teams for underachieving for four months?

Did you know? Despite being an 11-seed, Washington is NOT a Cinderella. Like Arizona last year, the Huskies are a talented Pac-10 team that underachieved all season and then decided to care late in the year.

2. West Virginia Mountaineers

Conference: Big East

Location: Morgantown, WV

How they got here: def. Morgan State, 77-50; def. Missouri 68-59.

Biggest reason they got here: While undersized, the Mountaineers attack the glass relentlessly.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2008, when WVU lost in overtime to Xavier.

A great and recent Tournament game: The Mountaineers’ 2005 double-overtime win over Wake Forest was the second-best second-round game of the decade, behind only Arizona and Gonzaga in 2003.

Tim’s favorite player in West Virginia history is: Mike Gansey. As good as there’s been in college basketball in moving without the ball.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Mountaineers lasted until: A national championship game loss to conference rival Syracuse.

You should root for West Virginia because: The Mountaineers are about as good as a team can be with only one discernibly talented offensive player.

Did you know? Bob Huggins is a West Virginia alumnus.

Had you heard? Da’Sean Butler hits a lot of important shots late in games.

Can you conceptualize? The Mountaineers have gotten this far despite not having a point guard.

1. Duke Blue Devils

Conference: ACC

Location: Durham, NC

How they got here: def. Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 73-44; def. California, 68-53.

Biggest reason they got here: Duke’s interior size and prowess on the offensive glass allows them to survive poor shooting nights much more easily than in years past.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2009, when they were run off the court by Villanova.

A great and recent Tournament game: The greatest ever.

Tim’s favorite player in Duke history is: This is a pretty hard call because I grew up loving Hurley, Laettner, and Hill, own a Jason Williams jersey, and got to see Jon Scheyer in person for three years. Gun to my head though, it’s my first-ever Jersey Guy Point Guard Idol, Bobby Hurley.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Blue Devils lasted until: A Final Four ouster at the hands of West Virginia.

You should root for Duke because: Everyone else isn’t.

Did you know? Duke boasts college basketball commentating alums such as Seth Davis, Jay Bilas, Mike Gminski, Jim Spanarkel, and me.

Can you believe? Duke has been in a down period for most of the last decade while UNC has been the decade’s best program. Nevertheless, UNC has missed three more NCAA Tournaments than the Blue Devils, who haven’t slipped lower than a six-seed.

Would you mind me telling you that? Cameron Indoor Stadium is awesome.

Can we avoid talking about? The fact that Duke hasn’t been a team seeded better than fifth since 2001.

4. Purdue Boilermakers

Conference: Big Ten

Location: West Lafayette, IN

How they got here: def. Siena, 72-64; def. Texas A&M, 63-61.

Biggest reason they got here: Heart. And Chris Kramer.

Last trip to Sweet 16: 2009, when they were beaten by Connecticut in a forgettable game.

A great and recent Tournament game: Gotta go with Sunday’s against the Aggies. Not the best quality game, but very intense.

Tim’s favorite player in Purdue history is: Its most successful one in the NBA right now, Carl Landry. He beats out the Big Dog.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Boilermakers lasted until: They were upended by Siena in Round 1.

You should root for Purdue because: Robbie Hummel is hurt!

Did you know? Robbie Hummel is hurt!

Did you also know? Purdue is still not that bad without him.

Had you heard? Matt Painter drew up the final play on Sunday for E’Twaun Moore, except that Chris Kramer decided he wasn’t going to pass the ball and to drive to the basket himself. This was surprising, since Chris Kramer isn’t very good on offense.

3. Baylor Bears

Conference: Big 12

Location: Waco, TX

How they got here: def. Sam Houston State, 68-59; def. Old Dominion, 76-68.

Biggest reason they got here: Tweety and LaceDarius woke up in the second round, and ODU couldn’t match the Bears’ size.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Never!

A great and recent Tournament game: The Bears hadn’t won a Tourney game since 1950 before this year, so we’ll go with that pedestrian win over Old Dominion.

Tim’s favorite player in Baylor history is: Again, not much history, so how about recent grad Curtis Jerrells?

In Tim’s original bracket, the Bears lasted until: An Elite Eight loss to Duke.

You should root for Baylor because: The Bears play an entertaining, athletic style.

Did you know? Scott Drew is Bryce Drew’s brother.

Were you aware? I’m also pretty sure Scott Drew is the only coach in America who neither wears a jacket on the sideline nor rolls up his sleeves. The result just looks kinda weird.

A comparison I’d like to make is: Josh Lomers is the Jordan Eglseder of the South Region.

10. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Conference: West Coast

Location: Moraga, CA

How they got here: def. Richmond, 80-71; def. Villanova, 75-68.

Biggest reason they got here: Omar Samhan has been the best player in the Tournament so far, with 61 points on 24-of-32 shooting.

Last trip to Sweet 16: Never!

A great and recent Tournament game: The win over Villanova.

Tim’s favorite player in Saint Mary’s history is: The guy who should’ve stayed: Patty Mills.

In Tim’s original bracket, the Gaels lasted until: A first-round loss to Richmond.

You should root for Saint Mary’s because: They got screwed out of the Tournament last season. And if they showed up as a group at the local Y, you’d be pretty sure you and four friends could beat them.

Did you know? Saint Mary’s has five Australians on its roster, and Mickey McConnell is not one of them.

Can you believe? The Gaels were considerably better last season than they are this season.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by jim pilgram on March 23, 2010 at 8:36 PM

    nice analysis!!! look forward to more posts from ya!

    Oh man, isn’t this why we tune into March Madness… we got upsets all over the place but in the West Bracket, Syracuse and Kansas State the number one and two seeds both were able to get to the sweet 16. To add to that Butler and Xavier got there and they are no team to take lightly. I am sure I am not the only one who waits all year to see basketball played at this caliber. Any team could honestly go on in this bracket to the Elite Eight.

    If you are as confused as I am, and most people for that matter on who to take going into the Eight Eight and Final Four, you might want to check out this write up @ … it has full in depth write-ups on all sixteen teams as well as predictions for all eight games in the sweet sixteen round.

    So who you got in the West Bracket? I have to take the favourites in Syracuse and Kansas State, they are simply playing the best basketball out of any team in the bracket… But anything is possible, especially this year!!!


  2. Posted by Douglas on March 24, 2010 at 12:00 AM

    Your qualifications for “recent” tournament games are pretty lax…although I suppose not as lax as your requirements for “great” would have to be if you actually picked recent games….touche.


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