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This Is Mathematically the Most Hectic Men's Sweet 16 Ever

In Tuesday’s Hot Clicks: why this men’s NCAA tournament is unlike any other, a horrible call in a women’s tournament game and more.

Year of the Cinderella

This March is officially the maddest in recent memory.

Monday's men's tournament featured two second-round upsets of high seeds, as Oregon defeated Iowa and USC blew the doors off of Kansas. After Sunday’s surprises, we’re left with what is officially the most Cinderella-laden Sweet 16 in NCAA tournament history.

The remaining field looks like this: three No. 1 seeds, two No. 2 seeds, a No. 3 seed, a No. 4 seed, two No. 5 seeds, a No. 6, a No. 7, a No. 8, two No. 11 seeds, a No. 12 and a No. 15. Even though Oral Roberts is the only remaining double-digit seed not from a power conference, there’s still a robust collection of fun underdogs to pull for.

According to ESPN’s John Gasaway, this year’s Sweet 16 features the lowest average seed of any year since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. It beats out the 1986 tournament, in which No. 14 seed Cleveland State and No. 12 seed DePaul made the Sweet 16. (Both of those teams lost in the Sweet 16, but No. 11 seed LSU made the Elite Eight.)

This year’s Sweet 16 is noteworthy for another reason: It’s the first time in the history of the 64-team men's tournament that Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina have all missed out on the Sweet 16.

It’s a funny coincidence that, as Gasaway points out, this off-the-wall tournament immediately follows the one that featured the chalkiest Sweet 16. In 2019, all of the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds advanced past the first weekend. The so-called “Cinderellas” in the regional semis were No. 5 seed Auburn and No. 12 seed Oregon.

Nobody could have predicted that this exact collection of teams would be the ones left standing, but the difficult circumstances of this season made it seem like we were destined for a tournament full of surprises. It wouldn’t be a shock if one or two double-digit seeds made it all the way to the Final Four. 

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