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We’ve reached that stage of the tournament. The NCAA Men’s Sweet 16 will tip off this Thursday, and the expectations are the same as usual for the tournament’s second weekend – uncertainty, drama, and a smattering of tear-shedding supporters.
To celebrate this occasion, I’m running with the theme of 16; 16 Sweet 16 showdowns from 16 Sweet 16s (try to say that 16 times fast). For these next few days, there is no other number.
Considering contests from the Sweet 16s between 2006 and 2022 only, I’ve compiled a collection of the best games from this magical round of March that have emotionally endured well beyond their final whistles.
16 of the Best Sweet 16 Games Since 2006
2006: 2 UCLA 73, 3 Gonzaga 71
Best remembered for Adam Morrison crying on the court, this game featured one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history. UCLA closed the contest on an 11-0 run to transform a 71-62 deficit into a 73-71 victory, pouring the final seven points on in the last minute. A series of critical errors led the Zags down this path, and it’s weighed on their minds since.
2006 2 Texas 74, 6 West Virginia 71
Before these two shared a conference, they met in the Sweet 16 and put together an unforgettable finish. Down three with five seconds to go, West Virginia’s Kevin Pittsnogle drilled a triple from the top of the key. Texas inbounded quickly and got the ball to one of its best three-point shooters in program history, Kenton Paulino, who fired from deep to catapult the Longhorns into the Elite Eight as time expired.
2006 1 UConn 98, 5 Washington 92 (OT)
Washington led, 78-72, with 1:26 remaining in regulation. Some ill-timed fouls and UConn heroics later, the game was knotted at 82-82 and headed for overtime. In OT, Connecticut asserted itself and continued its dance, while Washington left D.C. wondering what if.
2007 2 Georgetown 66, 6 Vanderbilt 65
A totally back-and-forth game came right down to the line, culminating in a crazy Jeff Green jumper that put the Hoyas on top with 2.5 seconds to play. Vanderbilt neglected to use either of its two timeouts and rushed to get the ball in, squandering its final opportunity. Vandy fans still maintain that Green traveled, and Georgetown fans say it was the greatest technicality ever.
2007 1 Ohio State 85, 5 Tennessee 84
By the break, Tennessee had cruised to a 49-32 advantage and appeared poised to pull off the upset. The Buckeyes scored 53 points in the second half and regained the lead with 7:26 to go. The Vols didn’t give up and had a chance to win at the horn, but Greg Oden scaled the Himalayas to reject Ramar Smith’s layup and preserve Ohio State’s Elite Eight spot.
2008 10 Davidson 73, 3 Wisconsin 56
This wasn’t a close game, but for the culture, it must be included. Steph Curry thrust himself into the national spotlight with his 40-point and 30-point performances in the first and second rounds, and he launched through into space with his 33 points against the Badgers in the Sweet 16. The Wildcats waxed Wisconsin and put to rest any discussion of a fluke. This run was the foundation for the legacy of one of the most important basketball players ever.
2010 2 Kansas State 101, 6 Xavier 96 (2OT)
This is one of the best games of any sport that I have ever seen. Kansas State and Xavier provided us with it all: lead changes, logo threes, overtimes, an abundance of emotion, and so much more. If you were too young to experience this live, you deserve to watch it in full. My words can’t do it justice – just breathe it in.
2011 11 VCU 72, 10 Florida State 71 (OT)
Neither of these teams were supposed to be here, and yet there they were, needing five extra minutes to decide if the No. 10 or No. 11 seed in the Southwest Regional would play in the Elite Eight. Florida State had the ball at the end of regulation, but VCU didn’t let it get a good look. The Seminoles took a one-point lead with 29.2 seconds on the overtime clock, but Bradford Burgess got open on an inbounds play at the last moment and scored to elevate the Rams with 7.1 ticks to go. Rob Brandenberg blocked a Seminole shot at the buzzer, and VCU was on to the Elite Eight.
2011 4 Kentucky 62, 1 Ohio State 60
Neither team ever had much breathing room in this one. A Jon Diebler three tied the game at 60 with 21.2 seconds to play, but Brandon Knight nailed a contested jumper in the final moments to regain the lead. The Buckeyes had a look from beyond the arc to win it at the buzzer that didn’t go, and the Wildcats knocked out the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
2012 1 North Carolina 73, 13 Ohio 65 (OT)
The Bobcats connected on 12 three-pointers and forced 24 turnovers to keep up with Carolina in this one. The No. 13 seed had an opportunity to take the lead in the final 30 seconds of regulation off an and-one from Walter Offutt, but he missed the free throw, and the game went to overtime. The Tar Heels pulled away in the extra period, but Ohio came this close to shocking the world.
2013 4 Michigan 87, 1 Kansas 85 (OT)
At the under-four timeout, these teams jogged to their respective benches with Kansas leading, 70-59. The Jayhawks methodically choked that away, and Trey Burke capped off the comeback with one of the most iconic shots ever in the tournament, let alone the Sweet 16. All 23 of Burke’s points came in the second half and overtime as the Wolverines shoved the South Regional’s No. 1 seed out of the event.
2017 4 Florida 84, 8 Wisconsin 83 (OT)
Wisconsin rallied from a 12-point hole in the last five minutes of the second half, a runner three via Zak Showalter with 2.1 seconds left sending the game to overtime. The roles reversed in OT, with the Gators recovering from a five-point deficit in the final 50 seconds. The closing sequences of this one were unreal, none more notorious than Chris Chiozza’s emphatic ender to smash Badger hearts into a million pieces.
2017 11 Xavier 73, 2 Arizona 71
This Sweet 16 showdown had a little extra gas – it pitted Arizona head coach Sean Miller against his former program in a do-or-die situation, plus these teams met in the same round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Musketeers exacted revenge via Sean O’Mara’s layup with 44.1 seconds remaining, which finished a 12-0 Xavier run to end the game. Trevon Bluiett scored a game-high 25 points as the No. 11 seed’s Cinderella story continued on.
2019 3 Purdue 99, 2 Tennessee 94 (OT)
Purdue was ahead, 65-51, at the 10:53 mark of the second half, but it wasn’t meant to be that easy. Tennessee stormed back and took the lead about six minutes later. It was a battle through the end of regulation, with Carsen Edwards capitalizing on two pressure free throws in the waning seconds to tie everything at 82. Edwards and Ryan Cline combined for 56 points and the Boilermakers made 15 threes en route to the overtime victory.
2019 1 Duke 75, 4 Virginia Tech 73
The Hokies beat the Blue Devils in their only regular season meeting, and the lower seed kept the favorites in the balance throughout this one’s entirety. In the final 1:10 of the game, Virginia Tech nearly overcame a six-point shortage. VT had plenty of looks on the last possession of the contest, including an inbounds lob with 0.6 seconds on the clock from point-blank range that Ahmed Hill couldn’t get over the rim – the No. 1 seed and Zion Williamson moved on in dramatic fashion.
2021 3 Arkansas 72, 15 Oral Roberts 70
Oral Roberts had its sights set on becoming the first-ever No. 15 seed to reach the Elite Eight, and Arkansas wanted to return to the round for the first time since 1995. In the end, the only separation between the teams was a Davonte Davis jumper with 2.9 seconds left. ORU’s Max Abmas scored 25 and Arkansas’s Jalen Tate had 22 in a highlight-filled fight to the end.
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.