2021 March Madness: Which 16 Teams Are Still Dancing?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Upsets. Bracket Busters. Feel-Good Stories. All these words can be used to describe March Madness. And over the first and second round of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we’ve had plenty of upsets. Plenty of bracket busters. And plenty of feel-good stories.


Every year, over 350 Division 1 College Basketball teams across the country start their season. By the end of the season, only 68 of those teams are selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, also known as March Madness, or the Big Dance. This past weekend, the first and second rounds of the tournament were played, and 16 teams made it through. The other 52? Their season is over. 

 

     Now, let’s take a look at the few teams that are moving on to the Sweet Sixteen, and how they got there.

 

SOUTH REGION

Baylor, Villanova, Arkansas, Oral Roberts

 

  • 1st seeded Baylor cruised through their opening round game against 16th seeded Hartford, 79-55, in a well-rounded team effort. MaCio Teague led all scorers with 22 points, while Jared Butler recorded a near double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds. They followed that up with a wire to wire victory over 9th seeded Wisconsin, winning 76-63, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Matthew Mayer scored 17 points to lead the team, while also recording 6 rebounds. Butler and Davion Mitchell each dropped in 16 points, while the latter also dished out 8 assists.

 

  • Villanova defeated 12th seeded Winthrop, 73-63, in their first round matchup on Friday, March 19. Star forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl recorded a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The Wildcats then faced and defeated 13th seeded North Texas in the second round, winning by a score of 84-61. Robinson-Earl led the team in scoring with 18, while Jermaine Samuels and Justin Moore each dropped in 15 points of their own. They will take on Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen.

 

  • Arkansas had a harder path to the Sweet Sixteen, but were ultimately able to survive and advance. They beat 14th seeded Colgate in the first round 85-68 after trailing by 14 points earlier in the game. Justin Smith had himself a monster game, recording 29 points and 13 rebounds. The Razorbacks then took down the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, 68-66, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. This one was back and forth the whole way, but Smith and Co. proved just a little too much to handle in the end. 

 

  • Upset Alert! 15th seeded Oral Roberts is in the Sweet Sixteen! That’s right, 15th seeded Oral Roberts! First, they took down 2nd seeded Ohio State in the first round. This thriller went to overtime, and when Duane Washington Jr. ‘s game-tying three bounced out at the buzzer, ORU had the win, 75-72, as well as an upset for the ages. They also busted thousands of brackets! Kevin Obanor had 30 points, while point guard Max Abmas dropped in 29 of his own. But ORU didn’t stop there! The Golden Eagles pulled off yet another crazy upset on Sunday, beating 7th seeded Florida 81-78 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. They’re only the second 15 seed in history to make the Sweet Sixteen, the other being Florida Gulf Coast in 2013. ORU will face 3rd seeded Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen this weekend.

 

MIDWEST REGION

Houston, Syracuse, Loyola Chicago, Oregon State

 

  • The Cougars of Houston are back in the Sweet Sixteen, where they will face Syracuse this weekend. Houston won their first round matchup 87-56 over 15th seeded Cleveland State last Friday, with junior guard Quentin Grimes pouring in 18 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. On Sunday, the Cougars faced 10th seeded Rutgers, and were trailing by 9 points with less than five minutes to go. They came back, and ended up winning the game 63-60 to advance.

 

  • 11th seeded Syracuse, known for their 2-3 zone defense, is also in the Sweet Sixteen this year after wins over 6th seeded San Diego State (78-62) and 3rd seeded West Virginia (75-72). The Orange are led by Buddy Boeheim, who scored a game-high 30 points in their win over West Virginia on Sunday.

 

  • You remember Loyola Chicago? The team that made the Final Four as an 11 seed back in 2018, beating Miami, Tennessee, Nevada, and Kansas State before losing to Michigan in the Final Four? Well, they’re back! After a win over 9th seeded Georgia Tech and an upset of number 1 seed Illinois, the Ramblers once again find themselves back in the Sweet Sixteen, and don’t be surprised if they make the Final Four again this year!

 

  • 12th seeded Oregon State put together a great late-season push, winning the Pac-12 Tournament Championship to qualify for the National Tournament. There, they upset 5th seeded Tennessee in the first round, with starting center Roman Silva leading the way with 16 points. Ethan Thompson added 13 points and recorded 10 rebounds to go along with 6 assists. The Beavers then knocked off Cade Cunningham and the 4th seeded Oklahoma State Cowboys, 80-70, with Thompson scoring a huge 26 points. They will face Loyola Chicago on Saturday, March 27th.

 

WEST REGION

Gonzaga, Creighton, USC, Oregon

 

  • Undefeated Gonzaga rolled through their opening round game against 16th seeded Norfolk State, winning handily by a score of 98-55. The Zags followed that up with an impressive 87-71 victory over 8th seeded Oklahoma to stay undefeated at 28-0. They are led by forward Drew Timme and guard Jalen Suggs

 

  • 5th seeded Creighton barely escaped their first round game against UC Santa Barbara, winning 63-62 when Santa Barbara forward Amadou Sow’s layup with three seconds left rolled out. The Blue Jays then defeated 13th seeded Ohio, 72-58, with guard Marcus Zegarowski recording 20 points and forward Christian Bishop scoring 12 points and grabbing an astounding 15 rebounds. They will face Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen.

 

  • USC, who is led by NBA prospects Evan Mobley and his brother Isaiah Mobley, is back in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2007 after defeating 11th seeded Drake in the first round, 72-56, and following that up with a dominating win over 3rd seeded Kansas by a score of 85-51 in the second round. The Trojans will face 7th seeded Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen.

 

  • 7th seeded Oregon won their first round game by forfeit due to COVID-19, and followed that up with an upset win over 2nd seeded Iowa in the second round. Oregon pretty much led the whole way, ultimately winning by a score of 95-80. Iowa center Luka Garza did pour in a ridiculous 36 points, but a great all-around team effort by Oregon propelled them to victory over the Hawkeyes. 

 

EAST REGION 

Michigan, Florida State, UCLA, Alabama 

 

  • 1st seeded Michigan, led by Coach of the Year Juwan Howard, is in the Sweet Sixteen too after wins over 16th seeded Texas Southern (82-66) and 8th seeded LSU (86-78). The Wolverines are led by center Hunter Dickinson and guard Eli Brooks.

 

  • Florida State, the 4th seed in the East Region, will face Michigan this weekend after beating 13th seeded UNC Greensboro and 5th seeded Colorado. The Seminoles are led by star guard Anthony Polite and forward Raiquan Gray.

 

  • UCLA has had to win three games, not two, to get to the Sweet Sixteen. First, they had to win a play-in game over Michigan State to even get into the actual tournament. They won in overtime, 86-80. Then, the Bruins beat 6th seeded Brigham Young, 73-62, and followed that up with yet another win, this time over 14th seeded Abilene Christian, to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Guard Johnny Juzang has been on fire, averaging over 22 points throughout the first three games of the tournament.

 

  • 2nd seeded Alabama is traditionally known as a football school, but that hasn’t been the case this year. The Crimson Tide have a loaded basketball squad, and have shown that so far in March. They beat 15th seeded Iona, 68-55, and followed that up with an impressive 96-77 defeat of Maryland to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.The Tide are led by SEC Player of the Year Herb Jones.

 

     So there you have it. A complete breakdown of the 16 teams in the Sweet Sixteen, and how they got there. 

 

     As for picking a champion, well, I don’t know who will win this year. I bet you don’t either. With all the upsets, who knows? But the one thing we do know? It’s been a pretty awesome tournament so far this year, and you better believe it’ll get even crazier.

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