N2K’s All-Time College Basketball Bracket Challenge: The Sweet Sixteen

We’re getting down to the wire soon here in the All-Time Bracket Challenge with the Sweet Sixteen taking place today. The magic number is only four games to win the first All-Time College Basketball Championship. A few of today’s main storylines include how much further can underdogs 1997 Kansas, 1992 Cincinnati, 1996 UMass and 2008 Xavier make it? Also, could a 1990 National Championship rematch take place between 1992 Duke and 1990 UNLV in the Elite Eight? Now for what you most likely clicked on this article for, the Sweet Sixteen results.

EAST

UConn 2011 vs Kentucky 2015

If there is one thing that the 2015 Kentucky squad should be known for in this tournament is their consistency and their depth. In another game, the Wildcats had all of their starters contribute at least double-digit points. The Huskies have been sort of an underdog story thanks to their upset over 2015 Wisconsin and behind the play of Kemba Walker, anything might be possible. Kemba certainly tried to make anything become possible as he finished this one with 31 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. Despite a late game surge from Walker and the Huskies, the Wildcats were able to keep UConn at bay. For Kentucky, Andrew Harrison had 15 points while Karl-Anthony Towns ended with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Sweet Sixteen UConn Kentucky

Villanova 2016 vs Louisville 2013

Two National Champions facing off in the Sweet Sixteen for a chance to play the 2015 Kentucky Wildcats for a spot in the Final Four. This Villanova against Louisville game was a second half game where both Villanova’s Josh Hart and Louisville’s Russ Smith got going late in the second half. Hart and Smith were trading baskets for a while but the Cardinals got the best of Hart and the Wildcats when all was said and done. Cardinal center Gorgui Dieng converted a crucial tip-in to give Louisville the lead but Villanova had a chance to win the game with a final shot. Off of Dieng’s play, Nova’s Kris Jenkins got an open look behind the three point line but it rattled in and out giving the Cardinals a huge win. Russ Smith finished with 35 points while Gorgui Dieng ended with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Villanova forward Josh Hart had 25 points and 8 rebounds.

Sweet Sixteen Villanova Louisville

WEST

Duke 2001 vs UMass 1996

The Minutemen were one of the more underrated teams in this All-Time Bracket but running into a stacked 2001 Duke Blue Devils team will be a massive test for a star-driven UMass. In order for UMass to advance, Camby would need to have a career game while Minutemen Dana Dingle contains Shane Battier, anything is possible. Marcus Camby led all scorers with 29 points and 9 rebounds while Carmelo Travieso and Donta Bright combined for another 30 points. As for Duke, their high-powered offense was too much for the UMass defense. Every starter for the Blue Devils had at least 13 points with Shane Battier scoring 25 points and Jay Williams with another 21 points. The Minutemen kept this one relatively close for most of the game, but the depth and shear talent boasted by 2001 Duke was too much for UMass to overcome in the end.

Sweet Sixteen Duke UMass

Kansas 1997 vs Kentucky 1996

In the first overtime game of the Sweet Sixteen, Paul Pierce of Kansas and Antoine Walker of Kentucky battled it out. While Paul Pierce was able to hold his defensive assignment to just 6 points, Kentucky’s Antoine Walker was exposed for 21 points and 11 rebounds from Jayhawk forward Raef LaFrentz. Nevertheless, Antoine Walker had an impressive double-double totaling 31 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Pierce finished with 26 points and 8 rebounds of his own but the story of this game was the unexpected offensive production from Kansas center Scot Pollard. Pollard had 18 points and 9 rebounds but his post jump shot to send the game to overtime was the definition of clutch. Pierce and Walker continued to battle in OT, but Pierce got the upper-hand contributing 7 of Kansas’s 13 points including a 4-point play. Kansas will continue their cinderella run against 2001 Duke in the Elite Eight.

Sweet Sixteen Kansas Kentucky

MIDWEST

Michigan 1989 vs Duke 1992

Coach K’s 1992 Duke Blue Devils find themselves in the Sweet Sixteen but they haven’t really been tested yet against a top tier seed. Although here they find themselves against 1989 National Champions and one seed, the Michigan Wolverines led by Glen Rice. Both teams were firing on all cylinders totaling a combined 176 points. Glen Rice scored 27 points with 7 rebounds but the leading scorer and rebounder was Christian Laettner of Duke who finished with 33 points and 9 rebounds. The Blue Devil duo of Thomas Hill and Grant Hill controlled the final minutes driving Duke to the win and onto the Elite Eight.

Sweet Sixteen Michigan Duke

UNLV 1990 vs Cincinnati 1992

Cincinnati’s cinderella run has been fun so far but we’re talking about the 1990 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. The Bearcats kept it relatively close for the entire game and especially made a run in the final seconds to knock off UNLV but Anthony Buford’s desperation buzzer beater was no good and the Runnin’ Rebels advance to play 1992 Duke in the Elite Eight. For the Bearcats, Nick Van Exel finished with 12 points and Anthony Buford ended with 16 points. As for the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, forward Larry Johnson tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds while small forward Stacey Augmon added another 15 points and 7 rebounds.

Sweet Sixteen UNLV Cincinnati.png

SOUTH

UNC 2005 vs Xavier 2008

Two schools belonging to four of our writers (UMass and Xavier) found their respective ways into the Sweet Sixteen. UMass has since been eliminated thanks to the hands of the 2001 Duke Blue Devils. Now we’ll find out the fate of Xavier, the only thing that stands in their way is a loaded 2005 UNC team. Xavier plays small so they match up relatively well against UNC if they can contain Tar Heel center Sean May. The Musketeers played well and their starting five, once again showed their the perfect example for consistency but Xavier was not able to contain Sean May. May went off for 18 points and 11 rebounds en route to a UNC Tar Heel victory. Editor’s note: If it is any consolation it wasn’t a buzzer beater at the hands of Wisconsin (sorry Tyler and Gabe)

Sweet Sixteen UNC Xavier.png

Marquette 2003 vs UCLA 2008

It seems only right that the Sweet Sixteen finale game would end in buzzer beater fashion. The Golden Eagles of Marquette relied on their bench’s production more than they normally do. As for the UCLA Bruins, which are a team that is very starter production reliant they needed stars Kevin Love and Darren Collison to leave no doubt. On the Golden Eagles side of things Dwyane Wade finished with 20 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds while center Robert Jackson added 14 points and 7 rebounds. UCLA’s center Kevin Love would need to win the battle in the trenches against Marquette’s Jackson and he did just that scoring 17 points with 10 boards. Marquette stuck around in this one and UCLA’s inability to put them away almost cost them their tournament life. If it wasn’t for some clutch free throws from Darren Collison, Marquette might have very well moved on to the Elite Eight to face the 2005 UNC Tar Heels.

Sweet Sixteen Marquette UCLA.png

What did you think of today’s games? How did you bracket do? Make sure you stay updated with our All-Time Bracket Challenge and be on the look out for the Elite Eight results that gets released tomorrow. The rest of our result releasing schedule is as follows…

3:00PM MARCH 9, 2017- ELITE EIGHT
3:00PM MARCH 10, 2017- FINAL FOUR
3:00PM MARCH 11, 2017- CHAMPIONSHIP

Sweet Sixteen Results.png

Cover Photo via SI.com

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