Alabama, Houston, Princeton aim for NCAA basketball title : NPR

The Sweet 16 included the Desi Sills (#13) and the Kansas State Wildcats, in an NCAA men’s tournament that didn’t feature any of the top four “blue-blooded” programs, such as Kentucky.

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The Sweet 16 included the Desi Sills (#13) and the Kansas State Wildcats, in an NCAA men’s tournament that didn’t feature any of the top four “blue-blooded” programs, such as Kentucky.

Image of Jacob Kupferman/Getty

College basketball is hosting two tough, electric NCAA tournaments: In both the men’s and women’s events, only half of the No. 1 seeds make it to the Sweet Round of 16.

Some of the interesting things are thanks to the transfer portal, which allows athletes to change schools without having to wait outside. The relatively new policy has been accused of destabilizing college sports, but it also creates equality.

With the men continuing to compete on Thursday, here’s a quick look at the Sweet 16’s start time and tournament placement. (We’ll be previewing the Women’s Sweet 16 before it starts on Friday.)

Big Dance dance floor is open

At this stage of the tournament, fortunes often begin to tilt in favor of one or two teams with the right mix of talent and motivation to make it to the finals. But this year is kind of hard to define.

The two remaining No. 1 seeds, Alabama and Houston, are not the weakest. The other two No. 1 seeds, Purdue and defending champion Kansas, sit out. The same goes for the two seeds of #2.

Two teams are being labeled Cinderella, especially the lowest seed still playing: No. 15 Princeton University. The Tigers are proving that their attack and recovery are good enough to take on the country’s strongest teams.

Then there’s the Florida Atlantic. Seed number 9 has reject the label Cinderellasays its 33-3 record comes from hard work and focus, not fairy godmothers.

It’s a good year for new blood, not green blood

Eleven conferences are represented in this year’s Sweet 16. To find a recent NCAA champion in the current field, you have to go back 2014 winner UConn.

This is the second time in three years that four of the top “blue-blooded” shows — North Carolina, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky — have failed to make the Sweet 16. Between 1980 and 2019, at least one of the teams That has gone as far as this annual tournament.

Basketball goes through the gate

The NCAA changed the transfer portal system in April 2021 to allow athletes to transfer schools and compete instantly. It has a big impact on talent spread: Last year, about 1,650 Division I college boys basketball players joined the portal.

Coaches and programs are still figuring out how to adjust — and how to retain top players. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, a frequent critic of the transfer portal, says there are pluses and minuses.

“The portal isn’t all bad. I mean…everywhere isn’t for everyone,” Izzo said recently. “For me, the bad thing is that every kid who’s having a bad day is just thinking about leaving. At this level, if you’re halfway in, you’re not going anywhere.”

Despite his skepticism, Izzo took advantage of the portal — and it helped his team in this tournament. MSU has received large donations from a number of players transferring from other schools, including top scorer Tyson Walker.

fifth game

Four games each will be played on Thursday and Friday, with the first kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET.

#3 Kansas vs #7 Michigan at 6:30 p.m. ET (TBS)
Number 4 UConn vs Number 8 Arkansas at 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
4 Tennessee vs. 9 Florida Atlantic at 9 p.m. (TBS)
No. 2 UCLA vs No. 3 Gonzaga at 9:45 p.m. (CBS)

Friday game

#1 Alabama vs. No. 5 San Diego at 6:30 p.m. ET (TBS)
#1 Houston vs #5 Miami at 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
Number 6 Creighton vs No. 15 Princeton at 9 p.m. (TBS)
Number 2 Texas vs Number 3 Xavier at 9:45 p.m. (CBS)

The final round takes place in April

The remaining eight teams will face off on Saturday and Sunday.

The quarterfinals are set for Saturday, April 1, with the national championship match on Monday, April 3.


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