NCAA Tournament – Teams of the Sweet Sixteen

Jahlil Okafor

In the Sweet Sixteen stage of the 2015 NCAA tournament, we have five remaining teams from the ACC (Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Louisville, North Carolina State), three from the Pac-12 (Arizona, Utah, UCLA), two from the Big Ten (Wisconsin, Michigan State), two from the Big 12 (Oklahoma, West Virginia), one from the MVC (Wichita State), the WCC (Gonzaga) and the SEC (Kentucky).

Duke Blue Devils

After a shocking early exit last season (and it happened in 2012 as well), Duke are in the Sweet Sixteen for a fifth time since 2009, hoping to make the Final Four for the first time since 2010. They didn’t win the ACC, but were the highest ranked team from the conference (#2 on the AP Poll) and getting a #1 seed. No problems in the tournament so far with blowout wins over Robert Morris and San Diego State, with Jahlil Okafor averaging 23.5 points in both of them. Utah is waiting for them next.

Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky are still undefeated after going through the nonconference schedule, the SEC and the conference tournament unscathed, making the Sweet Sixteen for a fifth time in the last six seasons, hoping to reach the championship game like last year. They’re the number one team in the country and obviously a #1 seed, ready to face West Virginia after already beating Hampton and Cincinnati without a single player scoring in double figures in more than one game.

Wisconsin Badgers

Frank Kaminsky

The Badgers are in the Sweet Sixteen for an 8th time in school history and the fourth time in the last five seasons, all under Bo Ryan. Last season it ended in a trip to the Final Four. They were ranked #3 by the polls heading into the tournament and got a #1 seed, which took them through Coastal Carolina in the round of 64 (86-72) followed by beating Oregon 72-65 in the round of 32. Up next for them are North Carolina. Frank Kaminsky, their leading scorer in the regular season, is averaging 23.5 points in the tournament so far.

Arizona Wildcats

The Pac-12 champions and tourney winners are in the Sweet 16 for a third straight season, trying to make the Final Four for the first time since 2001. AP ranked them as #5 overall, and they’re playing on a #2 seed, putting them through Texas Southern and Ohio State in the opening rounds, winning both games by a combined 36 points. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with 17 points per game is their leading scorer in the tournament, facing Xavier next.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The eternal WCC champions are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009 following early exits despite high seeds for a number of years (a #2 seed this time). They beat North Dakota State and Iowa in the opening rounds, led by Kyle Wiltjer, averaging 23.5 points in the wins. They’re up against UCLA next, hoping to make the Elite Eight for only the second time in school history; previous one was in 1999.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Unlike the other high ranked teams mentioned earlier, Notre Dame, a #3 seed and the ACC tournament champions, have been struggling in the tournament so far, beating Northeastern by four points followed by an overtime, 3-point win over Butler. Jerian Grant is leading them averaging 16.5 points per game as the Irish are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2003, hoping to pass this stage for a first time since 1979. Wichita State are up next.

Oklahoma Sooners

A #3 seed, Oklahoma are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009, a first under head coach Lon Kruger. They’ll be facing Michigan State next after already being Albany and Dayton. Bobby Hield with 15 points per game is the top scorer for the Sooners in the tournament.

Louisville Cardinals

The second team from the Bluegrass State is “just” a #4 seed, beating UC Irvine (barely) and Northern Iowa to make it to the Sweet 16 for a fourth consecutive time. Terry Rozier with 18.5 points per game is their leading tourney scorer. They’re up against fellow ACC team North Carolina State next, losing to them by nine points on the previous encounter.

North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels are a #4 seed in the tournament, struggling in the opening round against Harvard followed up by a slightly more convincing win over a good Arkansas team. This is their first Sweet 16 since 2012, hoping to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2009. Marcus Paige is their leading scorer in the tourney with 17 points per game, and they’re up against Wisconsin next.

Utah Utes

A #5 seed, Utah are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, hoping to get past this stage for a first since 1998, a year they made it all the way to the championship game before losing to Kentucky. After beating Stephen F Austin and Georgetown, Duke are their next hurdle. Jakob Poeltl with 15 points per game is their leading scorer.

West Virginia Mountaineers

This is the first time for the Mountaineers, a #5 seed, in the sweet 16 since 2010, the year they also made the Final Four. They’ve beaten Buffalo in the round of 64 and then stunned Maryland two days later, led by Devin Williams with 16.5 points per game. They’re about to face Kentucky next.

Xavier Musketeers

Xavier Musketeers

A #6 seed, Xavier didn’t have such a great regular season, finishing just 9-9 in the tough Big East. In the tournament they’ve looked more impressive, beating Ole Miss and Georgia State comfortably, led by Dee Davis, averaging 16 points per game. It’s their fifth Sweet 16 since 2008 and a second under head coach Chris Mack, now waiting for Arizona.

Michigan State Spartans

One of the two remaining #7 seeds, Michigan State beat Georgia and then stunned Virginia for a second straight year to make it into the Sweet Sixteen for the 13th time under Tom Izzo, into his 20th season. They’re facing Oklahoma next, hoping Travis Trice, averaging 19 points per game, keeps up the good work when it comes to scoring.

Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State are only a #7 seed in this tournament, but there’s nothing new about them going far in the tournament, making the Final Four in 2013. The MVC champions knocked off teams from power conferences along the way, beating Indiana and Kansas, led by Fred VanVleet who is averaging 22 points per game. Up next for them? Notre Dame.

North Carolina State Wolfpack

The only #8 seed to make it this far, North Carolina State are facing a Louisville team they beat once in the regular season next. It’s been extremely close for them so far, beating LSU by one point and Villanova, a #1 seed, by three points two days later. It’s only their second Sweet 16 in the last 10 years, the previous one being in 2012. They’re led by Anthony Barber, averaging 15 points per game.

UCLA Bruins

The lowest seed left in the tournament (#11), the Bruins happen to be the most successful team in college basketball history with 11 championships, although the last one came in 1975. Sweet 16’s haven’t been plentiful as well, making it two in a row after a six year break. They beat SMU on a goaltending buzzer beater followed by crushing UAB, led by Bryce Alford averaging 24.5 points per game. They’re facing Gonzaga next.

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