After a weekend, not many upsets, and a few heart-attacks thanks to some Runnin’ Bulldogs (shouts to Gardner-Webb), the Sweet Sixteen is upon us. We already know who the Virginia Cavaliers will be playing in Louisville, but how did they get here? A quick look
12 Seed. Oregon Ducks (25-12, 10-8 in Pac-12, No. 29 in KenPom)
1st Round: defeated No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers, 72-54
2nd Round: defeated No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters, 73-54
Oregon is on an absolute heater. After starting the season in the preseason Top 15 according to most polls, the Ducks got lost along the way. The calendar then turned to March and Oregon has been rolling; winners of ten straight by an average of 17.9 points and jumping from No. 67 in Kenpom to their current spot at No. 29. While impressive, eight of those wins came against Pac 12 competition, and only one win against a KenPom Top 45 team (Wisconsin).
3 Seed. Purdue Boilermakers (25-9, 16-4 in Big Ten, No. 9 in KenPom)
1st Round: defeated No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs, 61-48
2nd Round: defeated No. 6 Villanova Wildcats, 87-61
After going just 7-4 in their out of conference schedule, many thought Purdue might not be as good as they turned out to be. 16-4 in a power conference like the Big Ten gets you some recognition though. They flamed out early in the conference tournament, losing to Minnesota 75-73, but were absolutely dominant in the first two games of the tournament with Carsen Edwards making a player of the year push with a 26 point game against ODU and 42 points (!) against Nova.
2 Seed. Tennessee Volunteers (31-5, 15-3 in SEC, No. 10 in KenPom)
1st Round: defeated No. 15 Colgate Toothpaste Gators, 77-70
2nd Round: defeated No. 10 Iowa Hawkeyes, 83-77 (OT)
Back to back tournament scares could not have given Tennessee fans much confidence, especially after the way the Volunteers looked in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn. One of only three teams to beat Gonzaga, many thought the Volunteers would compete for the National Championship. They still can, but can’t have Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams disappear for halves at a time against Purdue and possibly UVa.