16 things you need to know about the Sweet-16


The first weekend is in the books, and now just 16 teams remaining in the running for a National Championship. The first true Sweet-16 took place in 1985, when the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

With a five-day break in between games, take some time to get to know the Sweet-16.

1. Mid-Major Madness?
Mid-major teams are just 32-53 in Sweet-16 games since 1985. The most success by mid-majors came last year, when five small-conference schools made the Sweet-16 and two of them advanced to the Elite Eight and eventually the Final Four. Xavier and Ohio are the only mid-majors in the Sweet-16 this season. This is Xavier’s fourth Sweet-16 appearance since 2008, but had never been seeded lower than sixth. Only five mid-major teams seeded No.10 or higher have advanced past the Sweet-16 since 200.

2. Lower Seeds Struggle
Since 1985, teams seeded No.10 and higher have gone just 13-46. Only two No.14-seeds have made the Sweet-16 (Chattanooga – ’97 and Cleveland State – ’86), and both teams lost. Three No.13-seeds have made the Sweet-16 and all three (Bradley – ’06, Valparaiso – ’98, and Richmond – ’88) lost. Since 2000, teams seeded No.10 or lower have won just six times, and have lost 20 out of 26 games. This season there are three teams seeded No.10 or lower competing in the Sweet-16. This is also the third consecutive year that three teams seeded No.10 or lower have advanced to the Sweet-16. The most teams seeded No.10 or lower to ever compete in the Sweet-16 in one season was four back in 1999.

3. Straight Chalk
This is just the seventh time since 2000 that all No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Since 2010, only six No.1-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16, and of that group, only three teams advanced to the Elite Eight.

4. Four Alive in Ohio
For the first time in tournament history, four teams from one state have advanced to the Sweet-16. No.2 Ohio State, No.6 Cincinnati, No.10 Xavier, and No.13 Ohio all advanced to the Sweet-16. Cincinnati and Ohio State will face-off in an interstate battle to determine one of the Elite Eight teams from the East region.

5. No Fives Alive
This is the first time since 1992 that no No.5-seeds have advanced to the Sweet-16. Only two No.5-seeds advanced to the Round of 32 this year, and both teams, New Mexico and Vanderbilt, lost.

6. The Scores
In 1988, No.1-seed Oklahoma set a Sweet-16 record by scoring 108 points against No.5-seed Louisville. The final score was 108-98, which is the Sweet-16 record for most combined points scored in one game. The least amount of points scored by one team in a Sweet-16 game was 43, set by No.5-seed Maryland back in 1985 and by No.10-seed Miami (OH) in 1999. Maryland lost to No.8-seed Villanova by a final score of 46-43, which still stands as a Sweet-16 record for the fewest combined points scored in one game. The largest point differential in a Sweet-16 game was recorded in 2009 when No.1 Louisville defeated No.12 Arizona by 39 points, in a 103-64 blowout.

7. The West Was Not Won
No teams from the Mountain and Pacific time zones are in the Sweet-16. Only three teams from the two time zones made the Round of 32 and all three teams lost. Baylor is the Western-most team remaining in the tournament.

8. The Rematch
No.1-seed Kentucky and No.4-seed Indiana meet in a rematch of their instant classic from December 10, when Christian Watford hit a buzzer-beater to defeat the Wildcats 73-72. The game will take place in Atlanta on Friday at 9:45PM. This is the only tournament game thus far that has been a rematch of a regular season game.

9. High School Sweethearts
18 different high schools have more than one former-player on Sweet-16 roster. The Brewster Academy has five former-players still standing, the most of any high school.

10. State’s Rights
The state of Indiana has more players competing in the Sweet-16 than any other state. 25 Indiana-natives still have a chance to cut down the nets in New Orleans. Ohio has the second-most representatives with 23, and North Carolina has 18. In all, 36 different states have representatives on Sweet-16 rosters.

11. The Wolf Pack is Back
This is the first time since 1985 that North Carolina State has advanced further in the tournament than Duke. This is just NC-State’s first Sweet-16 appearance since 2005 when they were a No.10-seed. Overall, NC-State is 2-2 in Sweet-16 games since 1985.

12. No Home-Court Advantage Out West
The West Regional in Phoenix, AZ will have no teams participating that are located within 1,500 miles of the arena. Marquette and Louisville are both located roughly 1,700 miles away, while Michigan State is 1,900 miles away and Florida over 2,000 miles away. The three other Regional sites have at least one participating team that is located with-in 500 miles of the arena.

13. Bobcats are Lucky No.13
Ohio has made the NCAA five different times, once as a No.12-seed, twice as a No.13-seed and twice as a No.14-seed. They have won as many games in the 2012 NCAA tournament as they have in their entire tournament history. They become just the fifth No.13-seed to make the Sweet-16, and if they can beat No.1-seed UNC, will become the first No.13-seed to ever advance to the Elite Eight.

14. The Six-Game Streak
14 of the 16 remaining teams will not play for the 2012 National Championship. Since 2002, Every National Champion has compiled two regular season win streaks of at least five games and has advanced to the semifinals of their conference tournament. Of the 16 remaining teams, three teams (Marquette, Indiana and North Carolina State) do not meet the requirements.

15. No No.15-seeds in Sweet-16
This was the first time in Tournament history that two No.15-seeds had advanced to the Round of 32, but thanks to Xavier and Florida, this will be the 27th consecutive year that a No.15-seed has be absent from the Sweet-16.

16. 16 Teams Remain, But There Is Only One Kentucky
Of the 16 remaining teams, Kentucky is the overwhelming favorite to cut down the nets iN New Orleans. The odds of them winning the entire tournament from here on out are at a staggering 9-5. Only the Florida Gators have a larger average margin of victory (30) than the Wildcats (15.5). But the Wildcats defeated the Gators three times during the regular season with a an 12.6 point margin of victory average.

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

Marquette’s Shaka Smart voted men’s AP coach of the year

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Shaka Smart has packed an entire career’s worth of experiences into 14 years as a college head coach. He led VCU to an improbable Final Four as a 30-something wunderkind in 2011, guided mighty Texas to a Big 12 Tournament title during six otherwise tepid years in Austin, and now has turned Marquette into a Big East beast.

It’s sometimes easy to forget he’s still just 45 years old.

Yet his work with the Golden Eagles this season might have been his best: Picked ninth in the 11-team league by its coaches, they won the regular-season title going away, then beat Xavier to win their first Big East Tournament championship.

That earned Smart the AP coach of the year award Friday. He garnered 24 of 58 votes from a national media panel to edge Kansas State’s Jerome Tang, who received 13 votes before guiding the Wildcats to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, and Houston’s Kelvin Sampson, who earned 10 before taking the Cougars to the Sweet 16.

Voting opened after the regular season and closed at the start of the NCAA Tournament, where the No. 2 seed Golden Eagles were knocked out in the second round by Michigan State and Smart’s longtime mentor, Tom Izzo.

“I’m very grateful to win this award,” said Smart, the second Marquette coach to take it home after Hall of Famer Al McGuire in 1971, “but obviously it always comes back to the guys you have on your team.

“Early on,” Smart said, “we had a real sense the guys had genuine care and concern for one another, and we had a very good foundation for relationships that we could continue to build on. And over the course of seasons, you go through so many different experiences as a team. And those experiences either bring you closer together or further apart. Our guys did a great job, even through adverse experiences, even through challenges, becoming closer together.”

It’s hardly surprising such cohesion is what Smart would choose to remember most from a most memorable season.

The native of Madison, Wisconsin, who holds a master’s degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania, long ago earned a reputation for building close bonds with players and a tight-knit camaraderie within his teams.

No matter how high or low the Golden Eagles were this season, those traits carried them through.

“Everything that we go through, whether it be the retreat that we went on before the season, all the workouts in the summer, he’s preaching his culture,” said Tyler Kolek, a third-team All-American. “And he’s showing his leadership every single day, and just trying to impart that on us, and kind of put it in our DNA. Because it’s definitely in his DNA.”

That’s reflected in the way Smart, who accepted the Marquette job two years ago after an often bumpy tenure at Texas, has rebuilt the Golden Eagles program after it had begun to languish under Steve Wojciechowski.

Sure, Smart landed his share of transfers – Kolek among them – in an era in which the portal has become so prevalent. But he largely built a team that finished 29-7 this season around high school recruits, eschewing a quick fix in the hopes of long-term stability. Among those prospects were Kam Jones, their leading scorer, and do-everything forward David Joplin.

“He teaches us lots of things about the importance of each other,” Joplin said. “He lets us know, time and time again, that we can’t do anything without each other, but together we can do anything.”

That sounds like a decidedly old-school approach to building a college basketball program.

One embraced by a still-youthful head coach.

“I think being a head coach has never been more complicated, never been more nuanced, and never more all-encompassing,” Smart told the AP in a wide-ranging interview last week. “Does that mean it’s harder? You could say that.

“What makes your job less hard,” Smart said, “is having a captive audience in your players, and guys that truly understand and own what goes into winning, and that’s what we had this past year. But those things just don’t happen. There are a lot of steps that have to occur on the part of a lot of people, not just the coach, to get to where you have a winning environment.”

Purdue’s Zach Edey named AP men’s player of the year

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Zach Edey spent the days following Purdue’s historic NCAA Tournament loss lying low, his phone turned off, along with the rest of the outside world.

The disappointing finish did little to diminish the season the Boilermakers big man had.

Dominating at both ends of the floor during the regular season, Edey was a near-unanimous choice as The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year. Edey received all but one vote from a 58-person media panel, with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis getting the other.

“The season ended in disappointment, which really sucks, but it’s always nice to win individual accolades,” Edey said. “It kind of validates your work a little bit. The last three years I’ve played here, I’ve seen my game grow every year. AP player of the year is a great feeling, it just kind of stinks the way the season ended.”

That ending came in the NCAA Tournament’s first round, when Purdue lost to Fairleigh Dickinson, joining Virginia in 2018 as the only No. 1 seeds to lose to a No. 16.

Before that, Edey dominated.

The 7-foot-4 Canadian was named a unanimous AP All-American and the Big Ten player of the year after finishing sixth nationally in scoring (22.3), second in rebounding (12.8) and first in double-doubles (26).

Edey also shot 62% from the floor and averaged 2.1 blocked shots per game while leading Purdue to its first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 2017. He is the first player since Navy’s David Robinson in 1985-86 to have at least 750 points, 450 rebounds and 50 blocked shots in a season.

“He’s kind of a one of a kind,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “I’ve never played with someone like him, probably never will again.”

And to think, Edey didn’t want to play basketball when he was younger.

A hockey and baseball player growing up in Toronto, Edey resisted basketball at first. He was 6-2 by the sixth grade and the natural inclination by the adults was to push him toward basketball, where his size would be a massive advantage.

“It was something I kind avoided all my life.,” Edey said. “I didn’t like people telling me what I should be doing with my life and it felt like that’s what people were doing with basketball. When I started playing competitively, that’s when I really fell in love with the sport.”

Edey developed his game quickly. He played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and proved himself against some of the nation’s best high school players, drawing attention from college coaches. He ended up at Purdue, where coach Matt Painter had a proven track record of developing big men.

Edey had a limited role as a freshman, then averaged 14.4 points and 7.7 rebounds last season on a team that had talented big man Trevion Williams and future NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey.

Already a tireless worker, Edey put in even more time during the offseason, spending extra time after practice and taking better care of his body. His already solid footwork got better, he added quickness and developed more patience with the constant double teams he faced – not to mention the barrage of physical play teams tried to employ against him.

“There’s not really any kind of cool, sexy answer,” Edey said. “I came in every day, I worked hard, I stayed after practice – stayed a long time after practice. I took care of my body and was able to steadily improve. There was nothing revolutionary I did. I just worked hard.”

It certainly paid off, even if the season ended with a huge disappointment.

George Mason Final Four star Tony Skinn hired as hoops coach

Doral Chenoweth/Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

FAIRFAX, Va. – Tony Skinn, who helped lead 11th-seeded George Mason to the Final Four during March Madness as a player in 2006, was hired Thursday to coach men’s basketball at the school.

Skinn replaces Kim English, who left George Mason for Providence after Ed Cooley departed Providence for Georgetown.

“Tony Skinn is the right man for this moment in Mason’s basketball program,” university President Gregory Washington said in the news release announcing the hiring. “His coaching style will galvanize our student-athletes and his connection to our finest hour on the court is sure to electrify our alumni and fans.”

Skinn was a starting guard for the Patriots 17 years ago when they picked up a series of surprising wins – including against UConn in the regional final in Washington, about 20 miles from campus – to make the semifinals at the NCAA Tournament.

George Mason’s coach at the time, Jim Larrañaga, is now at Miami and has the Hurricanes in this year’s Final Four.

Skinn was most recently an assistant coach at Maryland. He also has worked at Ohio State, Seton Hall and Louisiana Tech.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to step back on campus,” Skinn said. “I’ve had some of my greatest memories here and I’m looking forward to making new ones with our fans and our community.”

Gonzaga’s Timme among five finalists for men’s Wooden Award

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – Drew Timme of Gonzaga is one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award as the men’s college basketball player of the year.

He’s joined by Zach Edey of Purdue, Trayce Jackson-Davis of Indiana, Houston’s Marcus Sasser and Jalen Wilson of Kansas.

Timme took his team farthest in the upset-riddled NCAA Tournament with Gonzaga losing in the Elite Eight. Sasser helped Houston reach the Sweet 16. Purdue lost in the first round, while Indiana and Kansas were beaten in the second round.

The winner will be announced April 4 on ESPN. All five players have been invited to Los Angeles for the 47th annual presentation on April 7.

Also among the top 10 vote getters were: Jaime Jaquez Jr. of UCLA, Brandon Miller of Alabama, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky and Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis.

Voting took place from March 13-20.

South Carolina’s Dawn Staley will receive the Legends of Coaching Award during the ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Indiana’s Teri Moren wins AP Coach of the Year

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

DALLAS – Teri Moren has led Indiana to some unprecedented heights this season.

The team won its first Big Ten regular season championship in 40 years, rose to No. 2 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll and earned the school’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Moren was honored Thursday as the AP women’s basketball Coach of the Year, the first time she has won the award. She received 12 votes from the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week. South Carolina’s Dawn Staley was second with eight votes. Utah’s Lynne Roberts received five and Virginia Tech’s Kenny Brooks three.

Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament.

“I think a lot of people were like this is going to be a year where Indiana is reloading, rebuilding, they won’t be as good as they had been the year prior. We were picked third in the Big Ten,” Moren said.

Moren was surprised by her team, who told her she won in an elaborate ruse.

“Anytime you can share it with people that made it happen. the staff, the players, the most important people who have been instrumental in the season and this award is special. I was speechless.”

Moren accepted the award at the Final Four, sharing the stage with AP Player of the Year Caitlin Clark to complete a Big Ten sweep.

The team has come a long way from when Moren was a young girl growing up in southern Indiana. She was a diehard fan of the Indiana basketball team. The men’s one that is.

She would attend men’s games with her family when she was a kid and was a big fan of coach Bob Knight. She has a constant reminder of the Hall of Fame coach in her office as a picture of his infamous chair-throwing incident hangs by the door. Moren said it’s the last thing she sees before heading to practice.

As far as the women’s team, they just weren’t very good. Times have changed, as Moren has built the program into a blue-collar team that focuses on defense and is a consistent Top 25 team the last few seasons, appearing in the poll for 75 consecutive weeks starting with the preseason one in 2019-2020. That’s the fourth-longest active streak.

Before that, the Hoosiers had been ranked for a total of six times.

“People still talk to me about living in Bloomington and they couldn’t afford a ticket to the men’s game. Not that they settled, but became women’s basketball fans. At that moment, you could walk in and find any seat you wanted and watch women’s basketball,” Moren said.

“There were 300-400 people in the stands, now to what it is today, it’s an unbelievable thing to watch it grow. Things you dream about to see fans and bodies up in the rafters.”

The Hoosiers had six of the school’s top 10 most attended games this season, including crowds of over 13,000 fans for the first round of the NCAA Tournament and 14,000 for the second round game – a shocking loss to Miami.

“It stings right now, but that last game doesn’t define our season,” Moren said.