One No. 1 seed (Villanova) and two No. 2 seeds (Duke and Louisville) have already been eliminated from the NCAA men's basketball Division I tournament. After the Sweet 16 plays out on Thursday and Friday, will any other No. 1 or No. 2 seeds join them?
It's certainly conceivable, though chances are most of the favorites hold serve and advance through to the Elite Eight.
Then again, no one outside South Carolina thought the Gamecocks were going to beat Duke—a favorite for the national championship—in the second round, but SC scored 65 points in the second half of an 88-81 win.
Here's a look at the bracket, the Sweet 16 schedule, picks for each game and some analysis on a trio of Sweet 16 contests.
NCAA Tournament Bracket
Thursday, March 23
|No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan||Midwest||7:09 p.m.||CBS||Kansas City, Missouri||Michigan|
|No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 West Virginia||West||7:39 p.m.||TBS||San Jose, California||Gonzaga|
|No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Purdue||Midwest||9:39 p.m.||CBS||Kansas City, Missouri||Kansas|
|No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 11 Xavier||West||10:09 p.m.||TBS||San Jose, California||Arizona|
Schedule information via ncaa.com.
Friday, March 24
|No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Butler||South||7:09 p.m.||CBS||Memphis, Tennessee||UNC|
|No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 7 South Carolina||East||7:29 p.m.||TBS||New York City||Baylor|
|No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 3 UCLA||South||9:39 p.m.||CBS||Memphis, Tennessee||Kentucky|
|No. 4 Florida vs. No. 8 Wisconsin||East||9:59 p.m.||TBS||New York City||Wisconsin|
Schedule information via ncaa.com.
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 4 Butler
Don't expect a third run to the national championship for Butler in this decade, as North Carolina's size and rebounding skill will be too difficult for Butler to overcome down low.
North Carolina leads Division I in rebounding differential (13.1), and to put that in perspective, the next closest team is Baylor at four fewer rebounds (9.1).
Pretty much everyone joins the rebounding party for UNC, as eight players average at least three boards per game.
That being said, Butler should make this a game because it is one of the toughest teams in the nation to put away. Butler lost its eight games this season by an average of 5.4 points, and only one of those games was by double digits (an 11-point loss to Creighton).
Expect superstar sixth man Kelan Martin to keep this close with some hot shooting off the bench, but UNC will grab a few extra boards and put in some timely buckets as it pulls away late.
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 West Virginia
The point guard battle is the most intriguing one-on-one matchup here, as two of the best in the country, Gonzaga's Nigel Williams-Goss and West Virginia's Jevon Carter, will battle in San Jose.
Williams-Goss and Carter's fight will likely be scored a draw, as both players are highly skilled and disciplined, but expect Gonzaga's two seven-foot centers, Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski, to be the difference in this game.
Nathan Adrian, West Virginia's 6'9" forward, might lead all NCAA tournament players in floor burns based off his incredible hustle against Bucknell and Notre Dame, but unless the West Virginia press breaks Gonzaga (the guess here is that the Bulldogs take care of the basketball behind the leadership of Williams-Goss), then West Virginia is going to be in trouble. Gonzaga will settle into its half-court offense and conceivably feed one of the two centers time after time.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Purdue
On Sunday, freshman phenom Josh Jackson showed why he is going to be picked in the top five of the 2017 NBA draft.
Simply put, when he's on, Jackson is one of the smoothest players in college basketball, as well as one of the toughest to guard. The 6'8" Jackson scored 14 of 23 points in the second half of a 90-70 win over Michigan State, helping turn a one-point game into a rout within minutes.
He's going to present a big problem for Purdue, who will counter Kansas' four-guard attack with a healthy dose of Caleb Swanigan—the sophomore forward has an incredible touch for a 6'9", 250-pound big man.
That being said, Swanigan can only do so much, and the deadly duo of Jackson and Frank Mason III will be too difficult for Purdue's guards to handle.