After six days and 52 games, the field for this season's Sweet 16 is finally set. The NCAA Tournament field will again be cut in half on Thursday and Friday, as regional semifinals determine which programs will play for a spot in the Final Four.
The South regional, played in Memphis, starts the action. Top-seed Florida faces No. 4 seed UCLA, tipping off at 9:15 p.m. ET. While UCLA holds the record for the most national championships, the Gators have won all three meetings between the programs in the NCAA Tournament, including a 73-57 win in the 2006 national championship game and 76-66 victory in the 2007 Final Four.
The Dayton Flyers, who upset Syracuse on Saturday night to punch their tickets to the Sweet 16, take on the No. 10-seed Stanford Cardinal at 7:15 p.m. ET Thursday. The Flyers, who had not even made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, are playing in their first regional semifinal in 30 years. Stanford returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 after an upset win over Kansas Sunday.
In the West regional semifinals in Anaheim, top-seeded Arizona faces the Aztecs of San Diego State on Thursday night at approximately 10:15 p.m. ET, or 30 minutes after Wisconsin-Baylor finishes. The Wildcats are appearing in their fourth Sweet 16 in the last six seasons, having lost to Ohio State in last year's regional semifinal. Arizona has endured their only four losses of the season since forward Brandon Ashley suffered a season-ending injury, but had enough to get through the tournament's first weekend without the talented sophomore. San Diego State snuck by New Mexico State in overtime before suffocating North Dakota State in the round of 32. Arizona defeated San Diego State 69-60 in a November 14 meeting in San Diego.
Second-seeded Wisconsin overcame a 12-point halftime deficit to knock off Oregon Saturday and earn its berth in the Sweet 16. The Badgers get No. 6 Baylor on Thursday night at 7:47 p.m. ET. Baylor upset Creighton to win a place in Thursday's regional semifinal. The Bears have never lost a Sweet 16 game, having advanced to the regional final in 2012, 2010 and 1950.
Friday's East region semifinals, played in Madison Square Garden, feature some of the most legendary programs in the sport. Michigan State, considered one of the favorites to win the tournament despite a No. 4 seed, gets No. 1 Virginia at 9:57 p.m. ET, or 30 minutes after Iowa State-UConn wraps up. Virginia knocked off Memphis Sunday to earn its first Sweet 16 berth since 1995. The Spartans squeaked past Harvard Saturday, earning a sixth Sweet 16 trip in the last seven seasons.
The East's second semifinal features No. 7 Connecticut against No. 3 Iowa State. The game tips at 7:27 p.m. ET Friday. Connecticut upset No. 2-seeded Villanova Saturday behind 25 points from Shabazz Napier. The Huskies, who were ineligible for last year's tournament, are making their first Sweet 16 appearance since a national championship run in 2011. Iowa State, which is playing in its first regional semifinal since 2000, will have to take on the Huskies without forward Georges Niang, who broke his foot in the Cyclones' first-round game.
Georges Niang with his foot in a walking boot, Photo: Tom Pennington
In the Midwest regional played in Indianapolis, Kentucky takes on defending national champion Louisville. Tipoff is set for approximately 7:45 p.m. ET on Friday, or 30 minutes after Michigan-Tennessee wraps up. The Wildcats knocked off previously undefeated Wichita State in the second round, setting up a hotly anticipated intrastate battle with the rival Cardinals. Louisville, which advanced with wins over Manhattan and St. Louis, lost 73-66 to the Wildcats earlier this year.
In the second Midwest semifinal, No. 2 seed Michigan takes on Tennessee. Friday's game is set for 7:15 p.m. ET. The Wolverines, who won the Big Ten regular-season championship, cruised past Wofford and Texas in the first two rounds of the tournament. Tennessee had to survive an overtime game against Iowa in the First Four, then knocked off UMass and Mercer on its way to the Sweet 16. The Vols are one of the nation's best rebounding teams and defend the paint well, two traits that are not particularly useful against the jump-shooting Wolverines.
Thursday, March 27
- No. 11 Dayton vs. No. 10 Stanford, 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
- No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 2 Wisconsin, 7:47 p.m. ET on TBS
- No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 1 Florida, 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS
- No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 1 Arizona, 10:17 p.m. ET on TBS
Friday, March 28
- No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 2 Michigan, 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
- No. 11 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Iowa State, 7:27 p.m. ET on TBS
- No. 8 Kentucky vs No. 4 Louisville, 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS
- No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 1 Virginia, 9:57 p.m. ET on TBS