The first weekend of the 2015 NCAA Tournament has come to a conclusion. While that is considered the most exciting four days of basketball each year, there are still four more days of entertainment coming up for the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight.
I’m going to go through each region and list which teams are left standing. I’m also going to preview how they have gotten to be among the final 16 teams. Need a 2015 Sweet 16 bracket to download or print? Pick one up here.
No. 3 Notre Dame will take on No. 7 Wichita State in the bottom half of the Midwest Region, while No. 1 Kentucky is set to do battle with No. 5 West Virginia in the bottom half. Both of these games will take place on Thursday, March 26th inside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
Notre Dame has survived on a couple of nail biters. It beat Northeastern 69-65 in the Round of 64 before needing overtime to get by Butler 67-64 last round. Wichita State has pulled off two wins against historic programs in Indiana (81-76) and Kansas (78-65) to punch its tickets to the Sweet 16.
Kentucky made easy work of Hampton 79-56 in the first round. It found itself in a tight battle with Cincinnati for the first 25 minutes in the second round, but eventually pulled away for a 64-51 victory. West Virginia beat Buffalo 68-62 and then thumped Maryland 69-59 in the Round of 32.
No. 1 Wisconsin will take on No. 4 North Carolina in the top half while No. 2 Arizona will do battle with No. 6 Xavier in the bottom half as it has been mostly chalk in the West Region. These two games will be played on Thursday, March 26th inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
Wisconsin hasn’t won with the ease that many were expecting. It beat Coastal Carolina 86-72 while allowing 48.3% shooting. It then survived in a 72-65 win over Oregon. North Carolina narrowly beat Harvard 67-65 before exploding offensively in an 87-78 shootout over Arkansas.
Arizona has been one of the most dominant teams in the tournament thus far. It beat Texas Southern 93-72 before dismantling Ohio State 73-58. Xavier has gotten through with relative ease as well, topping Ole Miss 76-57 before taking care of Georgia State by a final of 75-67.
The East Region has seen plenty of surprises thus far. It will be No. 4 Louisville against No. 8 NC State in the top half and No. 3 Oklahoma against No. 7 Michigan State in the bottom half. These four teams will be playing on Friday, March 27th inside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.
Louisville barely won its first game in a 57-55 triumph against UC-Irvine. It then put forth a tremendous effort in a 66-53 win over pesky Northern Iowa. NC State has arguably the two biggest wins of the Tournament. It was lucky to beat LSU 66-65, but then it knocked off No. 1 seed Villanova 71-68 in the Round of 32.
Oklahoma has not been spectacular, but it has gotten the job done in back-to-back wins over Albany (69-60) and Dayton (72-66) as it has had a relatively easy path to the Sweet 16. Michigan State has earned its way here with a 70-63 win over No. 10 Georgia and a 60-54 upset of No. 2 Virginia.
The South Region has also seen a couple of upsets to this point. It will be No. 1 Duke against No. 5 Utah in the top half of the region and No. 2 Gonzaga against No. 11 UCLA in the bottom half. These four teams will do battle on Friday, March 27th inside NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Duke has been as impressive as anyone en route to the Sweet 16. It beat Robert Morris by 29 points (85-56) before destroying a tough San Diego State team by 19 (68-49). Utah topped Stephen F. Austin 57-50 and then came back from 11 points down to beat Georgetown 75-64 in the Round of 32.
Gonzaga uncharacteristically struggled in an 86-76 win over North Dakota State in the opener. It put everything together the next time out, destroying Iowa 87-68 to reach the Sweet 16. UCLA was the team that everyone thought did not belong. Instead, it has gone out and beaten SMU 60-59 and UAB 92-75 as it continues to play its best basketball of the season down the stretch.
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