If your brackets were busted, this region probably had something to do with it. There were only two double-digit seeds to survive the First Round. But one of those teams ruined a few brackets, joining the no. 1, 3, and 5 seeds in the Sweet 16.
Needless to say, the no. 15 seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles were the biggest culprits of busted brackets. They quickly became the biggest story of the tournament after knocking off no. 2 seed Ohio State. The tandem of Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas dominated that game, combining for 59 points. Even after the Buckeyes got a clean slate in overtime, they couldn’t get the job done. The Golden Eagles then took things to the next level by overcoming a halftime deficit to beat Florida. Once again, it was Obanor and Abams, who combined for 54 points, helping the Golden Eagles become just the second 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.
In the Sweet 16, Oral Roberts will play Arkansas, a school that’s located less than 120 miles away. The Razorbacks didn’t exactly have the easiest time reaching the Sweet 16 despite holding serve as the favorite in both games. Arkansas trailed by as many as 14 points against no. 14 Colgate in the First Round. The Hogs needed to up the tempo and their defensive pressure to keep the Raiders at bay. In the Round of 32, the Razorbacks had to go wire-to-wire with Texas Tech in an old-school Southwest Conference battle. Justin Smith stepped up with 20 points, helping out star freshman Moses Moody. For Arkansas, it will be their first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 1996.
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In the upper portion of the South Region, many are surprised that Villanova survived the opening weekend. Most were counting out Jay Wright’s team after Collin Gillespie was lost to a season-ending injury late in the regular season. But Wright has been able to recalibrate his lineup quickly and return to the Sweet 16 for the third time since 2016. In both 2016 and 2018, trips to the Sweet 16 turned into national championships for the Wildcats. To be fair, Villanova faced no. 12 Winthrop and no. 13 North Texas, so they have yet to be truly tested.
Of course, that will change for Villanova this weekend when they take on top-seeded Baylor. The Bears made quick work in their opener against Hartford and cruised to a 13-point win over Wisconsin in the Round of 32. Baylor might have been sweating a little on Selection Sunday at a potential matchup with North Carolina in the Second Round. The Tar Heels had the size to give Baylor trouble on the boards but couldn’t get past the Badgers. To be fair, Wisconsin put in a good effort. However, 16 points from both Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were enough to push the Bears to the Sweet 16. The goal for Scott Drew and company now is to take Baylor to the Final Four for the first time since 1950.
If you want a preview of one of our favorite games for the Sweet Sixteen check out this Villanova vs Baylor breakdown from BetQL