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

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim shoots during the second half of a second-round game against West Virginia in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 21, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Upsets were the primary theme of the first two rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

The carnage that ripped apart everyone's bracket, except for Bill Walton's, placed four double-digit seeds into the Sweet 16.

Of the 16 participants, seven of them are seeded first through fourth. The East Region has the most chalk left with the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 seeds still alive. 

The disparity in seeding may present a handful of blowouts, but if you thought the unexpectedness ended on the first weekend, there is plenty of time to change your mind before Saturday. 


Sweet 16 Schedule

Saturday, March 27

No. 8 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 12 Oregon State (2:40 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Villanova (5:15 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts (7:25 p.m. ET, TBS)

No. 2 Houston vs. No. 11 Syracuse (9:55 p.m. ET, TBS)


Sunday, March 28

No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Creighton (2:10 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 1 Michigan vs. No. 4 Florida State (5 p.m. ET, CBS)

No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 11 UCLA (7:15 p.m. ET, TBS)

No. 6 USC vs. No. 7 Oregon (9:45 p.m. ET, TBS)


Upset Picks 

No. 11 Syracuse over No. 2 Houston

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The zone defense is one of the oldest concepts in basketball, yet every few years, teams fail to figure it out and Syracuse ends up in the second weekend. 

Jim Boeheim has the Orange in the Sweet 16 for the second time in three tournament appearances, and his team could give the Houston Cougars a world of trouble. 

Cuse reached this stage with its hard-to-break-down defense and excellent shooting from Buddy Boeheim and others. The coach's son produced 55 points in the first two games, and Syracuse hit the 75-point mark against the San Diego State Aztecs and West Virginia Mountaineers. 

In the first round, the Orange knocked down 15 three-point shots and held the Aztecs to 18 first-half points. On Saturday, Syracuse hit 14 triples, 10 of which came from Boeheim and Joe Girard, and shot 14 percent better than West Virginia. 

Although Houston put together a 26-3 season, it has looked vulnerable against some of the better programs it faced. 

Kelvin Sampson's Cougars had to eke out two wins over the Memphis Tigers late in American Athletic Conference play, and they had to come from behind to eliminate the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday. 

That shows that Houston can grind out victories, but it may not be able to sustain a comeback if Syracuse remains hot from three-point range. 

When the Cougars were upset by the East Carolina Pirates on February 3, they gave up 11 three-pointers and were outshot by 8 percent. 

Of course, Syracuse is in a different class than East Carolina, but that gives you a small sample size of how a matchup could go south for Houston if its opponent shoots well. 


No. 4 Florida State over No. 1 Michigan

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Michigan Wolverines' path to the Final Four will not be easy.

Juwan Howard's side could face two difficult defensive matchups against the Florida State Seminoles and Alabama Crimson Tide before it faces the Gonzaga Bulldogs. 

However, Michigan may not even get to the Elite Eight if Florida State's defense has its way in Sunday's contest. 

Florida State enforced its will on the UNC-Greensboro Spartans and Colorado Buffaloes, as it allowed a combined 107 points. 

In both games, the Seminoles had success containing the star guards. UNCG's Isaiah Miller had 17 points, but he shot 7-of-18. Colorado's McKinley Wright was in foul trouble and finished with 10 points and a 4-of-12 shooting day. 

Florida State's length and active defense could cause problems for the Michigan offense, and this could be the game where we see how much Isaiah Livers' injury absence affects the Wolverines. He has Final Four experience, is the team's second-leading scorer and is one of the better defenders on the roster. 

If Livers is unable to go again, Michigan needs Franz Wagner to contribute more in both facets of the game. He scored nine points in the final eight minutes on Monday and is known for his defensive skills. 

Florida State will pose a much more difficult test than the LSU Tigers since it has more than a few scorers that can get after the Michigan defense. 

The Seminoles have five players that average over nine points per game and they have a good mix of experience through M.J. Walker and Anthony Polite as well as a potential NBA draft lottery pick in Scottie Barnes. 

Leonard Hamilton's team is also one of the deepest in the country, so if Walker or Barnes struggle to score, someone else can pick up the slack, like Polite did on Monday with 22 points.

If Florida State contains Michigan's top scorers and uses its scoring depth to hit the Wolverines from a few angles, it could end the Big Ten's chance at a national championship.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.