Sweet 16 Bracket: Updated Schedule and Upset Picks for NCAA Tournament

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2018

Texas A&M's Robert Williams (44) celebrates on the bench during the second half of a second-round game against North Carolina in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, March 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

The first weekend of the 2018 men's NCAA tournament proved a minefield for higher seeds.

Only one region witnessed three of its top four seeds advance to the Sweet 16. Two others are missing both their No. 1 and No. 2 teams.

This is a tournament of historic upsets—first time a No. 16 (UMBC) has knocked off a No. 1 (Virginia), first Sweet 16 regional without a top-four seed (South), per ESPN Stats & Information—and Davids could keep slaying Goliaths when play resumes Thursday.

With that in mind, let's look at the schedule before examining two possible upsets in the third round of March Madness.


Sweet 16 Schedule (All Times ET)

Thursday, March 22

No. 11 Loyola Chicago vs. No. 7 Nevada, 7:07 p.m. (CBS)

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 Michigan, 7:27 p.m. (TBS)

No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 5 Kentucky, 9:37 p.m. (CBS)

No. 9 Florida State vs. No. 4 Gonzaga, 9:59 p.m. (TBS)


Friday, March 23

No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 1 Kansas, 7:07 p.m. (CBS)

No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 1 Villanova, 7:27 p.m. (TBS)

No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Duke, 9:37 p.m. (CBS)

No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Purdue, 9:59 p.m. (TBS)


No. 5 Clemson Over No. 1 Kansas

Denis Poroy/Associated Press

As any of the upset victims can attest, fortunes can change in an instant during the Big Dance.

Clemson came into the tourney appearing as if it might be headed for its own early exit. This team lost five of its final eight games and never really replaced second-leading scorer Donte Grantham, lost in January to a torn ACL.

But the fifth-seeded Tigers are roaring at the right time. Their first weekend featured two double-digit victories, including Sunday's 84-53 rout of fourth-seeded Auburn.

Clemson has the country's seventh-best defense, but its offense can be unpredictable. It's been hyper-explosive in this tournament, though, scoring 163 points on 51.7 percent shooting (40 percent from three) over its first two outings.

There are no guarantees this level of potency will continue, but top-seeded Kansas hasn't exactly been a stone wall. The Jayhawks rank just 46th in defense, and it's been victimized by the long ball so far. Each of its first two opponents hit double-digit threes on 37-plus percent shooting.

If the Tigers are competent on offense, that might be enough to pull the upset given how well they fare at the other end.

"Clemson's defense is special," Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller wrote. "The Tigers had a couple of hiccups shortly after losing Donte Grantham...but they have held eight of their last nine opponents to 68 points or fewer. This includes simply abusing Auburn in the second round and even limiting Duke's explosive offense to just 66."

Kansas is just 1-3 when it fails to reach 70 points.


No. 7 Texas A&M Over No. 3 Michigan

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 18:  TJ Starks #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies reacts at the end of the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 18, 2018 in Charlotte
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The third-seeded Wolverines are lucky to still be dancing. They not only needed a buzzer-beating triple to escape sixth-seeded Houston, they survived shooting just 39.6 percent across two rounds.

Michigan now draws one of the top defensive teams left in the tournament.

Texas A&M, which ranks 10th nationally on that end, has held four of its last five opponents to fewer than 70 points (the lone exception, Alabama, managed 71). That includes defending champion and second-seeded North Carolina, which had its fifth-lowest scoring game of the season in Sunday's 86-65 loss.

"They blocked 70,000 shots," UNC coach Roy Williams said, per Richard Croome of AggieSports.com. "It was a more difficult game for us inside, which we knew, but let's make sure we don't do one thing, let's just don't say North Carolina screwed this up or North Carolina didn't do that. Texas A&M is pretty doggone good."

The Aggies are particularly strong across the frontcourt, where 6'10" junior Tyler Davis and 6'10" sophomore Robert Williams average a combined 24.9 points, 18.3 rebounds and 4.0 blocks.

The Wolverines, by the way, don't have a big man averaging eight rebounds or one block. Their top post player is 6'11" junior Moritz Wagner, a stretch center who has had trouble with athletic bigs.

That's something A&M can certainly exploit, as Williams has bounce few players his size can match:

If Williams and Davis can collapse Michigan's defense, A&M's upset chances will hinge on their wings hitting open shots. Admon Gilder and D.J. Hogg are both 38-plus-percent snipers, and T.J. Starks is enjoying his best offensive stretch of the season (19.7 points on 45.5 percent shooting over his last three games).

If the Aggies are consistent with their effort and shot-making, they have the talent to make a Final Four run.


Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of KenPom.com, ESPN.com and Sports Reference.


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