The Sweet 16 is an amazing accomplishment in it amongst itself. It’s an accomplishment that many college basketball programs don’t see very often. High expectations come with it.
Winning in college basketball is hard, and winning in the NCAA tournament is even harder. Time after time we’ve seen favorite teams go down. Some top teams don’t even make it past the round of 64.
Winning two games in the NCAA tournament and making it to the Sweet 16 isn’t a fluke. The teams in the Sweet 16 deserve to be there because they all won two games (sometimes three if they were in a play-in game). That is a hard thing to do in the NCAA.
We’ve now officially gotten to the point where we find out which teams are for real. We will find out in this next round what the Cinderella teams are made of and if they are here to stay.
Cinderella teams are traditionally defined as teams that are seeded ten or over. All of these teams are not necessarily “Cinderella” teams, but they are by no means the favorite to win or even be here in the first place.
Let’s take a look at the teams that most people didn’t expect to be here and how they might fair along the rest of the way.
The Xavier Musketeers make their eighth appearance in the Sweet 16 as the highest seed (11) left in the tournament.
A victory over Maryland in the first round and nearly a 30-point victory in the second round over third-seeded Florida State puts the Musketeers a step closer to their third appearance in the Elite eight in program history.
Junior guard Trevon Bluiett, who averages 18.5 points a game, helped Xavier finish 21-13 overall with a conference record of 9-9. That was good enough for an 11 seed after losing to Creighton in the Big East tournament.
They now face their toughest task yet, the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats come in as a two seed and a favorite for many to win the entire tournament. Xavier will look to become the highest seed to ever win the tournament after their two big wins.
The Michigan Wolverines are arguably the team with the most momentum and burst into the Sweet 16 as a seven seed. The Wolverines are coming off of a Big Ten tournament championship after their plane skidded off the runway en route to Washington D.C. for the tournament. They are poised, hungry and very good.
They beat Oklahoma State in the first round and a really good second-seeded Louisville team in the second round. The Wolverines had a rocky regular season, but with the leadership of senior guard Derrick Walton Jr. and the outbreaking stardom of sophomore forward Moritz Wagner from Germany, Michigan is in good shape to move onto the next round.
With a matchup against the Oregon Ducks, who lost one of their key contributors Chris Boucher before the start of the tournament, many believe this game to be the one where the underdog prevails.
South Carolina advanced to their first Sweet 16 since 1973 with a big win over second-seeded Duke. The Gamecocks look to advance to their program’s first Elite Eight.
With another tough matchup against third-seeded Baylor, the Gamecocks look to their leader, Sindarius Thornwell, to lead them to victory. The Gamecocks are not always your most flashy and good-looking team, but they get the job done.
Baylor may be the perfect opponent for the Gamecocks due to both teams’ scrappy and fast-pace play. That will make an interesting and entertaining matchup.
Wisconsin comes in on a high after taking down tournament number one seed Villanova. Many believe the Badgers were underseeded and should have gotten a better seed. Nevertheless, here they are.
With a matchup against the Florida Gators, who are also coming off of an utterly dominant victory over Virginia, the Badgers are actually favored by many despite being the lower seed.
The Badgers look to win their first NCAA championship since 1941, and they very well could.
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