The NCAA Tournament‘s four No. 1 seeds are all still alive heading into the Sweet 16, which begins with regional semifinals Thursday, March 22. Two No. 2 seeds weren’t so fortunate.
While No. 1s Syracuse (East), Michigan State (West), North Carolina (Midwest), and Kentucky (South) avoided upsets, Duke, No. 2 in the South, and Missouri, No. 2 in the West, were each knocked out by No. 15 seeds within hours of each other last week in the biggest shockers of the tournament. Lehigh upset Duke and Norfolk State took out Missouri, marking the first time a 15 had beaten a 2 since 2001.
Lehigh and Norfolk State each lost Sunday, March 18, leaving the Sweet 16 dominated by teams from power conferences and few surprises on the road to the Final Four at the Superdome in New Orleans, March 31 and April 2. The biggest upstart is Ohio University, a 13 seed in the Midwest.
The Bobcats, from the lightly regarded Mid-America Conference, are one of four Ohio-based teams remaining. Ohio State, Cincinnati, and neighboring Xavier are the others. Ohio will look to continue its run Friday, March 23 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis against North Carolina. The Tar Heels could be hurt by the loss of point guard Kendall Marshall, who sustained a broken wrist in their victory over Creighton.
Here’s a look at all the Sweet 16 games. The East and West regionals are Thursday, March 22 and Saturday, March 24; the Midwest and South are Friday, March 23 and Sunday, March 25. All ticket prices are secondary market listings from search site TiqIQ.com.
Site: TD Garden, Boston.
Thursday semifinals: No. 4 seed Wisconsin vs. No. 1 Syracuse, 7:15 p.m.; No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 9:45 p.m.
Outlook: The Big Ten vs. Big East semifinal session has an average ticket price of $306.67, with a “get-in” price of $150. Syracuse survived a first-round scare from North Carolina-Wilmington and will continue to be without 7-foot center Fab Melo, who was ruled ineligible just before the tournament began. Should Cincinnati get past Ohio State — a tall task — they could face Syracuse in an East final that would be a rematch of the Big East tournament semifinal won by the Bearcats.
Site: US Airways Arena, Phoenix.
Thursday semifinals: No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 1 Michigan State, 7:47 p.m.; No. 7 Florida vs. No. 3 Marquette, 10:17 p.m.
Outlook: A high-profile coaching match-up in the first game pits Louisville’s Rick Pitino, whose has been to five Final Fours, vs. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, who has been to six. Marquette features Big East player of the year Jae Crowder and will take on a Florida team that is trying to reach its third Final Four in the past six years. Despite the big coaching names, this semifinal session has the lowest average ticket price of the Sweet 16 ($261.95). The schools’ distances from Phoenix could be a factor there. Get-ins are $85 for Thursday and $59 for the final on Sunday.
Site: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis.
Friday semifinals: No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 1 North Carolina, 7:47 p.m.; No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 11 North Carolina State, 10:17 p.m.
Outlook: This regional has the two highest-seeded teams remaining in Ohio and N.C. State. They’ll each try to pull off shockers against college basketball’s elite. The Marshall injury could leave the Heels vulnerable. The Bobcats will need another big game from guard D.J. Cooper, who is averaging 20 points a game in the tournament. N.C. State surprised Big East power Georgetown to get to the Sweet 16, while Kansas is coming off a comeback victory over Purdue. Average ticket price for the semifinal session is $318 and $202 for the final. Look for that price to go up if it’s Kansas vs. UNC in what will become Jayhawk-friendly St. Louis on Sunday.
Site: Georgia Dome, Atlanta.
Friday semifinals: No. 10 Xavier vs. No. 3 Baylor, 7:15 p.m.; No. 4 Indiana vs. No. 1 Kentucky, 9:45 p.m.
Outlook: More college basketball royalty in the second semifinal as storied programs Indiana and Kentucky meet again. That match-up gives this the average ticket price the highest of all the regional semifinal sessions at $389.50, with a get-in price of $200. The South Regional also had the most purchases early this week on StubHub.com, followed by the Midwest and East. Kentucky, top-ranked at the time, lost to Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., on a three-pointer at the buzzer in their regular season match-up December 10. The Wildcats, behind player of the year candidate Anthony Davis and Coach John Calipari, are seeking revenge and a 15th Final Four trip. Baylor features future NBA players Perry Jones III, Pierre Jackson and Quincy Miller, but it was the nine threes Brady Heslip hit against Colorado that got them to Atlanta. The Bears will have to stop Xavier All-America guard Tu Holloway, who had 25 and 21 points in two tournament victories.