NCAA Tournament 2017 Sweet 16: 5 most likely national title contenders

Baylor wasn't exactly setting the world on fire heading into the NCAA tournament.

Since the Big Ten tournament, Hayes is averaging 15.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game with three double-doubles, all improvements on his regular-season production, and he is at his best in the post (1.02 points per possession, top 10 percent in the country) or going at a defender one on one (when he scores 46 percent of the time). The low scoring effort from Virginia was not a surprise, but losing the way that they did was one of the surprises of the weekend.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins provides plenty of entertainment on the sidelines in his own right but if the Mountaineers can keep the ball out of the Bulldog's hands their offense is more than capable of providing some entertaining basketball.

I was lucky to attend the game last Friday night in Greenville, and seeing the reaction of the crowd after the final buzzer sounded was something I'll never forget.

MI made 16 3-pointers against the Cowboys and has made 33 of 52 shots (63.4 percent) after halftime in those two wins. This is far from the norm for him since he has been averaging 20 points per game this entire season.

The Boilermakers will need to limit turnovers however, with Mason and the Jayhawks sure to punish any mistakes. Jayhawks freshman swingman Josh Jackson was impressive in Kansas' 90-70 demolition of Michigan State in the second round with a game-high 23 points, two blocks and two steals.

There were also a pair of 11-seed over six-seed upsets, one 10 over seven-seed upset and one 9 over 8-seed upset. Derrick Walton Jr. took it to heart and has carried the team during its run. Michigan's John Beilein is the only other coach to have led a prior team to the Final Four.

Nope. Instead, 12 of the teams in the Sweet 16 were seeded 1-4. Butler, the No. 4 seed, is no slouch either, with back-to-back championship game appearances in 2010 and 2011. The ACC had four regional finalists last season, including Final Four participants North Carolina and Syracuse. Averaged among the conference, each team played about 1.5 ranked opponents in the non-conference schedule, which is good.

The conference that had the toughest early rounds was the Atlantic Coast Conference. While it looks like they are playing at the highest level of any team remaining, Purdue's size can exploit KU's one weakness in the frontcourt. Gonzaga held off a second-half surge by No. 8 Northwestern, who scored 53 points in the second half. He posted 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in a second-round win over Iowa State.

"We wouldn't be in the Sweet 16 if we were a bad offensive team", SC coach Frank Martin said after the Duke game. SC had the fourth-highest turnover rate on defense this season (24.5 percent) and forced 18 turnovers in Sunday's upset against Duke.

In New York, Baylor will meet SC led by former Kansas State Coach Frank. He hopes to cajole his Wildcats to a third-round win over UCLA on Friday.

Justin: Probably Virginia's just because of the way they lost. In the end, it was Kentucky that got to celebrate, but only won by three points. UVA doesn't get blown out very often and Florida gave them a dose of their own medicine with some superb defense. As the only region that went chalk and is sending the top 4 seeds to Memphis, it still looks like a tough road. Stopping Florida on the offensive side of the ball will prove no easy task however, in what is set to be a fantastic defensive match-up. Still, Florida had too much talent for East Tennessee State and too much defense for slow-it-down Virginia in a 65-39 victory.

  • Joanne Flowers