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History Made: All the Favorites Make it to Sweet 16

Tennessee Vols Duke Zion
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In the history of college basketball, it’s never happened before. After a wild Sunday of blowouts and near upsets in the men’s NCAA Tournament, all the betting favorites survived the Round of 32 to make it to the Sweet 16.

It’s the first time the 16 best teams rolled through the bracket since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

If you want to do the math, that breaks a 33-year streak. How big a deal was it? Only three times have 15 of the 16 favored teams made it to the Sweet 16 in that same span.

Of course, it didn’t come without some high drama. The University of Tennessee, the No. 2 seed in the South Region, needed overtime to knock off 10th-seeded Iowa once the Hawkeyes tied the game up at the end of regulation. It took a furious Iowa comeback (and UT collapse) to get to that point as the Volunteers led 49-28 at the half and looked like they were all but tossing the Hawkeyes’ luggage onto the plane home.

As shocking as that near-upset was, it had nothing on Duke’s 77-76 victory over UCF. The Black Knights outplayed the tournament favorite all through the second half and only lost after a putback from Aubrey Dawkins just barely rimmed out.

Tennessee and Duke are both on plenty of Final Four predictions and nearly blew up brackets all over the country in a single afternoon.

The only lower seed team to win Sunday was No. 5-seeded Auburn, who knocked off No. 4 Kansas 89-75.

The NCAA Tournament continues Thursday night. Tennessee will face off against No. 3 seed Purdue. On Friday, Duke will square up against fourth-seeded Virginia Tech.

Written by Adam Greene

Adam Greene is a writer and photographer based out of East Tennessee. His work has appeared on, in USA Today, the Associated Press, the Chicago Cubs Vineline Magazine, and many other publications.


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