The NCAA Basketball Tournament opens Sweet 16 play today with four games on the schedule. The first is set to tip off at 11:40 a.m. when Loyola of Chicago meets Oregon State. These two teams have advanced out of the first round while opening the tournament as eighth and twelfth seeds respectively.
Oregon State earned an NCAA bid by winning the PAC 12 conference tournament, a conference that has surprised most basketball followers by winning 9 of 10 opening round games and placing four teams in the Sweet 16. Loyola of Chicago won their opening round game over Georgia Tech and then upset the only Number One seed that didn’t advance to this round, Illinois.
The second contest scheduled today pits Villanova against number one seed Baylor. Even without Big East player of the year Collin Gillespie, Villanova was both favored and won their first two tournament games over Winthrop and North Texas. The Wildcats were favored in both those games, while they are underdogs today against the Bears. Villanova has shown the ability to overcome the loss of Gillespie in games they were favored, but today their chances of beating the top seed Bears appears more challenging, and they are currently an eight point underdog.
The biggest surprise of the opening four days of tournament play was the success of 15th seed Oral Roberts. They become only the second 15th seed in NCAA history to advance to the Sweet 16. The other 15th seed to advance to the Sweet 16 was Florida of Gulf Shores in 2013, and they lost in this round by double-digits to Florida.
Oral Roberts will look to become the first 15th seed to advance to the Elite Eight when they tangle with the Arkansas Razorbacks in a contest set to begin at 4:25 p.m. Pacific Time. These two teams met in the regular season, on December 20th, and Oral Roberts took a ten point lead to the halftime locker room only to get blowin out in the second half and suffer an 87-76 loss.
Today, third seed Arkansas is favored by 11½ points.
The final game of the day finds Syracuse, who won as an underdog against San Diego State and West Virginia to advance to this weekend’s action, meeting the second seed Houston Cougars, who edged Rutgers last Sunday, 63-60.
The rated Qoxhi NCAA Saturday selections For Saturday of the Sweet 16 are now posted on this site.