Table of Contents

    On Selection Sunday, the committee awarded 68 squads a shot in the Big Dance. We’ve whittled that down to 16 – it’s time to reevaluate who will climb the mountaintop. I’ve ranked the Sweet 16 teams by their chances to win the national championship, all the way from Alabama down to Princeton.

    The frenzied first weekend is done, and the scope of who can take home college basketball’s greatest prize is narrowed by four. The best part? We’re still on a great path for a first-time national champion.

    To Purdue, Kansas, Arizona, and the rest who couldn’t survive – better luck next year. Princeton is keeping your place warm.

    Ranking the Remaining Sweet 16 Teams as Title Contenders

    16. Princeton

    Title Odds: +15000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 2 Arizona (59-55) and 7 Missouri (78-63)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 6 Creighton

    Princeton is the third No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 in three years and aims to become the second to go even deeper. The Tigers first shocked Arizona behind an outstanding defensive performance and 15 points and seven rebounds from Tosan Evboumwan before conquering Missouri in the second round, raining 12 triples on the No. 7 seed and outrebounding the favorites, 44-30.

    For reasons we’re now all aware of, this team should not be underestimated. However, if you had to pick a team of the remaining 16 that’s the least likely to win another four contests, it has to be Princeton. Sorry, Cinderella.

    15. FAU

    Title Odds: +5000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 8 Memphis (66-65) and 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (78-70)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 4 Tennessee

    FAU overcame Memphis in a game that will test the mettle of future cardiologists. Nicholas Boyd finished off a drive with 2.5 seconds to go to give FAU a one-point lead that it carried to its first tournament victory in program history. Next, Johnell Davis went off for 29 points and 12 rebounds against Fairleigh Dickinson to propel the Owls to the Sweet 16.

    Florida Atlantic has some ballers and can really hurt you with its athleticism on both ends of the floor. This team could continue to do damage in this tournament, but a national championship seems a bit far-fetched.

    14. Miami

    Title Odds: +4800

    How It Got Here: Defeated 12 Drake (63-56) and 4 Indiana (85-69)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 1 Houston

    In the first round, Miami showed that it can still persevere without Isaiah Wong playing a great game, then illustrated what it can do when he does have it going in the second round versus Indiana. The Hurricanes have an explosive backcourt with three players in Wong, Nijel Pack, and Jordan Miller who can each drop 20 on any given night.

    The Hurricanes have stepped up their defense so far this tournament, but that’s not in character with how this team played for the majority of the season. For how long can they keep that up? Four more games, all against better competition? We’ll see.

    13. Xavier

    Title Odds: +4500

    How It Got Here: Defeated 14 Kennesaw State (72-67) and 11 Pittsburgh (84-73)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 2 Texas

    The Musketeers escaped a scary upset bid in the first round to No. 14 seed Kennesaw State – a Jack Nunge block off the backboard with fewer than six seconds on the clock protected Xavier’s one-point lead and avoided the catastrophe of a buzzer-beating sendoff. Xavier played better against Pittsburgh in the second round, spreading the ball to the tune of six players scoring in double-figures and 22 team assists.

    We’ve seen two sides to this team already this tournament, and that concerns me for its national title aspirations. Xavier can light up the scoreboard in any outing, though, making it dangerous no matter who’s in the way.

    12. San Diego State

    Title Odds: +4000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 12 Charleston (63-57) and 13 Furman (75-52)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 1 Alabama

    The Aztecs held both of their tournament opponents well below the 60-point mark and smothered them both on the boards. San Diego State is an absolute force on the defensive end and among the best in the nation on that side of the ball.

    If the Mountain West’s best is to win the national championship, its defense will carry it there. But to do so, it will also need big, efficient scoring nights from at least one of its guards to have a hope of cutting down the nets in Houston. That’s happened so far. Let’s see if this team is up for the task.

    11. Arkansas

    Title Odds: +4000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 9 Illinois (73-63) and 1 Kansas (72-71)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 4 UConn

    Arkansas ran Illinois ragged in the first round, forcing 17 turnovers and dominating the Illini on the glass. Then, the Hogs sent a No. 1 seed packing and gave Eric Musselman a reason to release his torso to the world. Arkansas is in the Sweet 16 for the third season in a row.

    This roster is brimming with talent that had issues putting it together in the regular season but seems to be clicking now. Most teams in the country will have trouble matching up with Arkansas’s athleticism and pace, and there’s something to be said for what Musselman has achieved in multiple Marchs. The three-point shooting will have to improve to win it all, but the Razorbacks will be a tough out.

    10. Michigan State

    Title Odds: +2500

    How It Got Here: Defeated 10 USC (72-62) and 2 Marquette (69-60)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 3 Kansas State

    Dread it, run from it, Izzo arrives all the same.

    Michigan State is the only Big Ten team still on the dance floor, and if how it played against Marquette is an indication of what’s to come, then it might stick around a while longer. The Spartans held one of the most explosive offenses in Division I to 60 points, forcing 16 turnovers and outdoing the Golden Eagles on the boards in classic MSU fashion.

    There are few coaches in the country as adept in single-elimination situations than Tom Izzo. If his team can keep rebounding like it has and Tyson Walker continues scoring, then Michigan State can shock the world.

    9. Kansas State

    Title Odds: +3000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 14 Montana State (77-65) and 6 Kentucky (75-69)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 7 Michigan State

    Kentucky hammered Kansas State on the glass, but KSU countered by forcing turnovers, getting to the free-throw line, and putting the ball in Markquis Nowell’s hands. The guard had 27 points and nine assists against Kentucky and looks like the exact sort of player you need to win six games in a row at this time of the year.

    The Wildcats need to get more efficient from beyond the arc, but they’re off to a great start in this tournament. When its defense is disrupting passing lanes and turning steals into transitions, Kansas State can beat anybody.

    8. Gonzaga

    Title Odds: +1200

    How It Got Here: Defeated 14 Grand Canyon (82-70) and 6 TCU (84-81)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 2 UCLA

    For the eighth tournament in a row, Gonzaga is in the Sweet 16. Please, keep telling me how the Zags are March disappointers.

    The Bulldogs boast one of the most potent offenses around and scored in the 80s in both first-weekend tournament games. Drew Timme posted a combined 49 points and 18 rebounds against Grand Canyon and TCU, and he’s out to avenge his team’s loss in the 2021 title game. When you can fill it up like the Zags, you’re always a threat.

    The concern for Gonzaga remains its defense. If TCU doesn’t shoot 12-of-20 from the free-throw line, we might be having a very different conversation right now. But surviving and advancing is the name of the game – we can only move forward.

    7. Tennessee

    Title Odds: +1100

    How It Got Here: Defeated 13 Louisiana (58-55) and 5 Duke (65-52)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 9 FAU

    Well, color me surprised and orange. Tennessee is on its way to the Sweet 16 after holding off upset-minded Louisiana in the first round and blasting Duke into the next season two days later. The Vols were already one of the best defensive teams in the country, but they’ve clamped down even further this tournament. Duke attempted nine shots from the field below its average and mustered just 52 points after scoring 78.5 points per game since the start of the ACC Tournament.

    Even without Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee is finding ways to distribute the basketball and generate scoring opportunities. With the Volunteers defending as they are, they’re a threat to silence any offense that comes their way. That’s awfully dangerous.

    6. Creighton

    Title Odds: +950

    How It Got Here: Defeated 11 North Carolina State (72-63) and 3 Baylor (85-76)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 15 Princeton

    Even without the three-ball dropping, Creighton outlasted North Carolina State behind 31 points via Ryan Kalkbrenner and impressive defense around the rim. Against Baylor, the triples were falling, and the Bluejays rolled the Bears with an offensive onslaught and 30 points from Ryan Nembhard. Across the two games, Creighton shot 39-of-41 from the charity stripe.

    Creighton can win the national championship if it has a player put up 30 every contest. Even if it doesn’t, this team is playing great ball on both sides of the floor. Kalkbrenner makes everything inside a challenge for the opposition, and the Bluejays possess a variety of weapons to keep the court stretched and defenses scrambling.

    5. UCLA

    Title Odds: +850

    How It Got Here: Defeated 15 UNC Asheville (86-53) and 7 Northwestern (68-63)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 3 Gonzaga

    UCLA waxed UNC Asheville before facing a real challenge from Northwestern in the second round. The Wildcats stormed back from a 13-point deficit in the middle of the second half to get within one, but the Bruins never relinquished the lead. Jaime Jaquez led all scorers with 24 points, and UCLA’s defense proved too powerful to overcome.

    This is one of the best defensive teams you’ll find with a handful of players who can wreak havoc in one-on-one situations on the offensive end. With how this team limits its opposition offensively, the Bruins don’t need to score too many points to beat you.

    4. Texas

    Title Odds: +1000

    How It Got Here: Defeated 15 Colgate (81-61) and 10 Penn State (71-66)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 3 Xavier

    Dylan Disu was a monster in Texas’s first and second-round games, putting up two double-doubles as a force to be reckoned with offensively and on the glass. But the main story for the Longhorns has been their defense, which held two strong offenses to lackluster outings. Penn State went 28.6 percent from three against Texas – the Nittany Lions hit 59.1 percent of their triples in the first round versus Texas A&M and had shot 40 percent from beyond the arc dating back to the start of the month.

    Marcus Carr is distributing, Disu is rebounding, Sir’Jabari Rice is scoring, and everyone is defending. Timmy Allen looks to be back, too. This Texas team has shown enough to be viewed as one of the top-ranked Sweet 16 teams heading into the round.

    3. UConn

    Title Odds: +900

    How It Got Here: Defeated 13 Iona (87-63) and 5 Saint Mary’s (70-55)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 8 Arkansas

    UConn had the pleasure of emptying its bench against Iona and Saint Mary’s, a testament to how thoroughly this team worked its opposition in the opening two rounds.

    The Huskies have been on point from three, annihilated their adversaries on the boards, and snowballed the second halves of both games into a feeding frenzy of ball movement and interior dominance. Connecticut conjured up just the sixth instance of the Gaels conceding 70 points in a game all season.

    Adama Sanogo has it going right now – he’s averaging 26 points and 10.5 rebounds per game in the tournament while shooting better than 72 percent from the field. But even if you can stop or slow him, there are still several other pieces to worry about. This UConn team is primed to bring a fifth title back to Storrs.

    2. Houston

    Title Odds: +400

    How It Got Here: Defeated 16 Northern Kentucky (63-52) and 9 Auburn (81-64)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 5 Miami

    It was a bit of a struggle for Houston in the early stages of its first-weekend games, but it pulled away with some comfort in both instances in the second halves. Marcus Sasser played limited time against Northern Kentucky but saw 31 minutes versus Auburn, declaring himself back from injury with a 22-point performance on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.

    It hasn’t been the prettiest, but Houston is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in as many tournaments. The Cougars don’t play pretty basketball, anyway. This team is about beating you up on the defensive end and beating you down on the offensive end, and it’s very good at both. Houston remains a main suspect for the 2023 national crown.

    1. Alabama

    Title Odds: +320

    How It Got Here: Defeated 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (96-75) and 8 Maryland (73-50)

    Sweet 16 Matchup: 5 San Diego State

    Alabama is the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed and has looked the part thus far. The Crimson Tide blasted Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as expected, then gave Maryland a beatdown for good measure. Jahvon Quinerly scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field against the Terps, showcasing what the senior guard can do and solidifying yet another offensive threat in Nate Oats’s arsenal.

    Brandon Miller followed up an abnormally-poor performance in the first round with a smooth scoring spree in the second, amassing 19 points as he nonchalantly weaved his way into the lane through a formidable Maryland defense. Alabama was ranked as the favorite to win the national championship before the tournament started, and nothing has changed in the days leading up to the Sweet 16.

    CBB FAQs

    When are brackets due for March Madness?

    For March Madness Bracket pools, brackets typically are due before the start of the First Four games on March 15. However, on RunYourPool, commissioners have the ability to select their own due date for when brackets need to be submitted. Commissioners can access this setting by viewing their Commissioner Console and clicking on the Pool Settings.

    How do I run a March Madness bracket for my office?

    To run a March Madness Bracket Pool for your office, head over to RunYourPool.com! RunYourPool offers a plethora of different pool options to ensure the fun and competition amongst participants. Additionally, RunYourPool allows pool commissioners to customize and modify pools the way they see fit. It should take less than five minutes to set up your pool and start inviting colleagues!

    How do you win your NCAA bracket?

    To win a traditional March Madness Bracket pool, you will need to correctly select the winners of as many of the tournament's games as possible. In most March Madness contests, the point total of each correct selection increases with each ensuing round, culminating in the most important pick of all: the national championship game winner!

    How do I fill out an NCAA bracket?

    To fill out a March Madness Bracket, you will try to select the winner of every game of the tournament. The bracket begins with 68 teams and culminates in a championship between the final two remaining teams. You can fill out your bracket using RunYourPool and compete against friends, colleagues, family and more!

    What is a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool?

    A March Madness Head-to-Head Pool is a type of pool in which participants are randomly assigned one of the tournament's 64 teams. Participants advance if their team covers the spread, which allows every entry and team to have a chance of winning. If a team loses outright but covers the spread, the participant who's team covered will advance to the next round with the winning team.

    What is the best way to play a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool?

    The best way to play a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool is to set it up using RunYourPool and invite all of your friends! Setting up the pool and inviting participants is easy and should take less than five minutes. Next, you can randomize or assign the teams that participants will have.

    Are March Madness brackets legal?

    March Madness Brackets are completely legal to fill out and compete against fellow pool entries and users. Multiple softwares, including RunYourPool, will run sweepstakes and public contests for users to vie for a grand prize. Bracket pools must be in compliance with RunYourPools’s Terms and Conditions and must be for entertainment purposes only.

    What is a March Madness Squares Pool?

    A March Madness Squares Pools contains a 10x10 grid with each row and column being numbered 0-9. Prior to the tournament's start, pool members can login and select their squares. Next, when the tournament begins, the grid numbers are revealed. Members keep the same squares for each game and RunYourPool keeps track of the winners and other helpful statistics.

    How does the NCAA select its teams?

    32 of the 68 basketball teams that are selected for the NCAA tournament receive automatic entry into the competition as a result of winning their conference championship. The remaining teams get what's know as an "at-large bid," which extended by the NCAA selection committee based on the team's performance throughout the season.

    What is a March Madness bracket pool?

    A March Madness Bracket is a competition where players attempt to select the winning teams of each round of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Tournament in March. Traditionally, players would fill out a paper bracket and hand it into a pool commissioner. In recent years, software like RunYourPool.com has digitized and streamlined the process for speed and ease.

    How many teams are in March Madness?

    March Madness begins with 68 teams that are announced on Selection Sunday, March 13, 2022. The First Four consists of four games and the winners advance to the Round of 64. The following rounds are the Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and finally, the National Championship game.

    What is a March Madness Surivor Pool?

    A March Madness Survivor Pool is a type of pool where participants select one team to win their game for every day of the tournament. Typically, entries are only allowed to select each team once and the last entry standing wins! Survivor pools are a really fun way for entries to compete and test their knowledge

    What is the best way to play a March Madness Survivor Pool?

    The best way to play a March Madness Survivor Pool is to make a pool or join one using RunYourPool. Participants find it helpful to try to map out their picks ahead of the start of the tournament, and save the higher seeded teams for the later round picks of the survivor pool.

    How long is March Madness?

    March Madness takes place over three weeks, starting the First Four, First Round and Second Round in one week. The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight take place during the second week, while the Final Four and National Championship are played on Saturday and Monday the following week.

    What are the odds of a perfect March Madness bracket?

    Experts say that the odds of you crafting a perfect bracket in March Madness run from 1 in 120 billion to 1 in 9.2 quintillion, depending on how much you know about the teams, and about basketball. To put that in perspective, your odds of winning the lottery are significantly better, at 1 in 292 million.

    What is a March Madness Pick-X Pool?

    March Madness Pick X is a pool format in which the pool commissioner specifies a specific amount of teams that every participant will select. For each win of a team selected, participants will be awarded the amount of points of that team's seed, generally encouraging entrants to pick upsets. At the end of the tournament, the entry with the most points is the champion.

    What are Mid-Major teams?

    Mid-Major Teams are universities and colleges that play Division I basketball, are not part of a major conference such as the SEC or Big Ten. Mid-Major Teams are a substantial part of March Madness, as they regularly win lots games from mid-tiered conferences. Some examples of Mid-Major conferences are the WCC, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and Conference USA. Upsets usually occur from Mid-Major schools.

    What is the lowest seed to win the NCAA Tournament?

    In the March Madness Tournament, one of the higher seeds usually ends up winning it all. However, there have been a few occurrences where a lower seed fought their way to eternal glory. In 1985, Villanova won the Championship as a No. 8 seed and is the lowest seed to win in the tournament’s history.

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