Mid-Majors in the Sweet Sixteen and How They Got There

The opening weekend of college basketball has been very exciting. In the left side of the bracket, no one or two seeds remain. The best team standing is 3 seed Michigan.

There have been some mid-majors upsetting major programs many times from Thursday to Sunday. There were fifteen upset total this past weekend, and six of those upsets were by a mid-major.

The biggest story line of the weekend was obviously UMBC’s win over Virginia. It was the first time a 16 seed has defeated a 1 seed in Men’s Basketball history. To say this weekend was chaotic is a complete understatement.

Though many small programs did shine in the past four days, there are only three mid-major teams in the Sweet Sixteen. Let’s take a look at their match up and how they got there.

11 Seed Loyola-Chicago (Missouri Valley Conference)

The Ramblers will be taking on 7 seed Nevada in a completely lopsided South region semifinal.

The Sister Jean led team (not really) has been through a ton in the first two rounds.

On Thursday, the Ramblers took on 6 seed Miami. It was a close game throughout, though Loyola won off a buzzer beating three from Donte Ingram.

On Saturday, the Ramblers played 3 seed Tennessee in a game where Loyola would surely lose. Their magic was gone, by then, right? Wrong. Again, in clutch fashion, the Ramblers upset Tennessee. Clayton Cluster hit a jumper that got a lucky bounce off the rim, and went in with 3.6 seconds to go. That shot won the game for Loyola.

The Ramblers will play a Nevada team that has been winning extremely tight games in the NCAA Tournament as well, so it’ll likely be another great game between the two veteran led programs.

7 Seed Nevada (Mountain West Conference)

The Wolf Pack has had a very interesting post season thus far.

Nevada was blown out of the MWC Championship game by San Diego State. They then defeated Texas in overtime in the first round. In the second round, the Wolf Pack was down 22 to Cincinnati at one point, though came back and won by two.

Nevada has been fueled by Caleb and Cody Martin, two twin forwards who have played outstanding basketball throughout the season and during the tournament so far.

Wolf Pack fans have faced a series of emotions, and their Sweet Sixteen match up versus Loyola will likely be just as crazy as the first two games.

Nevada’s head coach, Eric Mussleman has gotten a reputation of cursing and doing other outlandish things after winning this past weekend.

4 Seed Gonzaga (West Coast Conference)

The Bulldogs had a compelling but not too frightening first weekend.

Gonzaga beat UNC Greensboro in the first round by four. That was quite a scare for the Bulldogs, though their defense and free throw shooting won that game (barely).

In the second round, the Zags played 5 seed Ohio State, where they won by six in a high scoring contest.

After the win, head coach Mark Few performed a handstand, something that is becoming a tradition in the postseason after Gonzaga wins.

Gonzaga will match up against 9 seed Florida State in the Sweet Sixteen. The Seminoles are hot. They defeated Mizzou in the first round and then somehow came back and upset 1 seed Xavier late Sunday night.

The ‘Noles will be a tough out for the Bulldogs, though they’ll likely take care of them.

All in all, the first and second rounds were extremely entertaining. Hopefully the Sweet Sixteen is the same.

The Sweet Sixteen will be aired on CBS and TBS on Thursday and Friday.

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