The basketball-less three days between the end of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament and the start of the Sweet 16 are always among the most painful on the sports calendar. Thankfully, the madness returns Thursday night and doesn’t leave us again until a Final Four has been established.
Before we get to that point, here are 16 things you should know about the 2022 crop of Sweet 16 teams and matchups.
1. Duke is a 1-point underdog for Thursday night’s game against Texas Tech, making this just the fourth time in 26 Sweet 16 appearances under Coach K that the Blue Devils have not been favored. Each of the other three times Duke has been an underdog in the Sweet 16, the Blue Devils have gone on to lose.
If Duke breaks that trend, Mike Krzyzewski will win his 100th all-time NCAA tournament game. His 99 victories are already the most of any coach in history.
2. North Carolina and UCLA are both appearing in the Sweet 16 for the 35th time in program history, putting them tied for second in all-time second weekend appearances. Kentucky leads the way with 44 all-time Sweet 16 appearances.
3. When UCLA and North Carolina square off on Friday, it will be just the third NCAA tournament meeting between two of the most storied programs in college basketball history. The Bruins topped the Tar Heels in the 1968 national championship game, and UNC knocked off UCLA in the second round of the 1989 Big Dance.
The matchup is one of two in the Sweet 16 that feature teams which have previously played one another in a national title game. Villanova and Michigan squared off in the 2018 national championship, with the Wildcats rolling to a 79-62 win. They’ll look to go 3-0 all-time versus the Wolverines in March Madness with a win Thursday night.
4. Gonzaga is looking to become just the fourth No. 1 overall seed to cut down the nets since the NCAA tournament selection committee began designating a No. 1 overall seed in 2004. Florida (2007), Kentucky (2012) and Louisville (2013) are the only previous top dogs to get the job done.
The Zags were also the No. 1 overall seed a year ago, but fell to another No. 1 seed, Baylor, in the national championship game.
5. Every seed line from 1-8 has produced at least one national champion besides the 5-seed line. No. 5 seeds have made it to the Final Four seven times (most recently Auburn in 2019), the national title game three times, but have never been able to be the last team standing.
Houston, which will face top-seeded Arizona in the late game on Thursday, is the only 5-seed still standing this year.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, No. 5 seeds are just 9-47 all-time in games against No. 1 seeds.
6. There have been six overtime games already in the 2022 NCAA tournament, tying it for the second most all-time. Seven is the record number of overtime games in a single NCAA tournament, shared by the 1995, 1997 and 2014 Big Dances.
7. Gonzaga is appearing in the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive NCAA tournament, the longest active streak in college basketball and tied for the third-longest of all-time. North Carolina (1985-93) and Duke (1998-2006) are tied for the record with nine consecutive Sweet 16 appearances.
It should also be noted that Michigan is in the Sweet 16 for a fifth consecutive tournament, putting them tied for the fifth-longest streak of all-time.
8. Just like a year ago, four double-digit seeds — No. 10 Miami, No. 11 Iowa State, No. 11 Michigan and No. 15 Saint Peter’s — have crashed the Sweet 16, making this the first time in history we have had back-to-back NCAA tournaments with four double-digit seeds playing their way into the second weekend.
The record for most double-digit seeds in a Sweet 16 is five back in 1999.
9. At least one power conference team seeded 9th or worse has reached the Sweet 16 in every NCAA tournament since 2008. This year, just like in 2021, we have three — No. 10 Miami, No. 11 Iowa State and No. 11 Michigan.
10. No. 10 Miami vs. No. 11 Iowa State is just the fourth all-time Sweet 16 meeting between a No. 10 and No. 11 seed. Each of the other three times this has happened, the underdog has won the game, and in two of the three times this has happened (2011 VCU and 2016 Syracuse), the underdog has gone on to crash the Final Four.
Miami is currently a 2.5-point favorite over Iowa State.
11. With No. 11 Iowa State and No. 11 Michigan both still dancing, at least one 11-seed has reached the Sweet 16 in seven of the last eight NCAA tournaments.
12. Surprisingly, there are three ACC teams — Duke, North Carolina and Miami — still standing. This marks the fourth consecutive year that the ACC has sent multiple teams to the Sweet 16, the longest active streak of any conference in college basketball. The Big Ten saw its run of 12 consecutive tournaments with multiple teams in the Sweet 16 snapped last year.
13. Baylor’s second-round loss to North Carolina guaranteed not only that this will be the 14th straight tournament without a back-to-back national champion, but the 14th straight year that the reigning national champ has failed to make it back to the Final Four.
Since Florida won the second of consecutive championships in 2007, here’s how the reigning champ has fared in the NCAA tournament:
2008: Florida – Missed tournament
2009: Kansas – Sweet 16
2010: North Carolina – Missed tournament
2011: Duke – Sweet 16
2012: Connecticut: – First round
2013: Kentucky – Missed tournament
2014: Louisville – Sweet 16
2015: Connecticut – Missed tournament
2016: Duke – Sweet 16
2017: Villanova – Second round
2018: North Carolina – Second round
2019: Villanova — Second round
2021: Virginia — First round
2022: Baylor — Second round
14. Fourteen of the 16 teams still standing have been to at least one Final Four in their program’s history. Only Miami and Saint Peter’s have failed to play in a national semifinal. The Peacocks are in the Sweet 16 for the first time, while the Hurricanes are playing their fourth Sweet 16 game, but looking for their first victory in the tournament’s third round.
15. Saint Peter’s is just the third No. 15 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament to crash the Sweet 16. No 15-seed has ever played in a regional final.
In 2013, Florida Gulf Coast rolled into the second weekend with back-to-back 10-point wins, but was bounced by third-seeded Florida, 62-50. Last year, Oral Roberts pushed another 3-seed, Arkansas, to the brink before missing a last second shot and falling by a bucket.
What. A. Game.
Max Abmas misses at the buzzer as No. 3 Arkansas holds off No. 15 Oral Roberts and advances to the Elite Eight
(via @marchmadness) pic.twitter.com/DbzbQaSbrd
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 28, 2021
The Peacocks will try and break the trend by taking down No. 3 seed Purdue in the first game to tip-off (7:09 p.m. ET) Friday night.
16. In each of the last eight NCAA tournament second weekends, at least one team seeded 5th or worse has won a pair of games to capture a regional title and crash the Final Four. In seven of those eight tournaments, a team seeded 7th or worse has gotten the job done.
2021 — No. 11 UCLA
2019 — No. 5 Auburn
2018 — No. 11 Loyola-Chicago
2017 — No. 7 South Carolina
2016 — No. 10 Syracuse
2015 — No. 7 Michigan State
2014 — No. 7 Connecticut and No. 8 Kentucky
2013 — No. 9 Wichita State
No. 5 Houston, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 10 Miami, No. 11 Michigan, No. 11 Iowa State and No. 15 Saint Peter’s all have a chance to keep that trend rolling this weekend.