The matchups are set for the Sweet 16, and if the path to get here was any indication, it should be a wild round as a field that began with 68 gets reduced even further. Just look at the East Regional, which has already seen its top two squads eliminated with No. 1 seed Baylor and No. 2 seed Kentucky each failing to advance past the first weekend.
Those outcomes and the emergence of No. 15 seed Saint Peter's have cast the East into a river of chaos. And how about the Midwest Regional, which lost two of its top four seeds during the opening weekend mayhem? One of the Midwest Regional semifinal games will pit No. 10 seed Miami against No. 11 seed Iowa State in a showdown of the Cinderellas.
But there is some "chalk" still around, particularly the rock chalk Jayhawks of Kansas. The No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region will face the Big East regular season champions of Providence in the other Midwest Regional semifinal. Only one region saw each of its top four seeds reach the Sweet 16 was the West, and boy is it a doozy of a group. With Gonzaga and Duke as the top two seeds, there will be no shortage of star power on display in San Francisco as the NCAA Tournament rolls on into its second weekend.
Here is the early look at what's ahead for the Sweet 16.
Thursday -- Chase Center in San Francisco
(1) Gonzaga vs. (4) Arkansas
- Scouting the Bulldogs -- Gonzaga reached its seventh consecutive Sweet 16 by outlasting Memphis 82-78 in a second round thriller. The Zags are known for frontcourt stars Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, but their guards have delivered some big-time performances recently as well. Andrew Nembhard and Rasir Bolton combined for 40 points against Memphis. Now the question is whether this is the Gonzaga team with the chops to break through for the program's first-ever national title. – Cobb
- Scouting the Razorbacks -- The run-and-fun style of Arkansas' offense under Eric Musselman this season is buttressed by yet another elite defense that has helped the Razorbacks to advance to their second consecutive Sweet 16 after more than a 20-year drought for the program in the second weekend of the tournament. Led by leading scorer J.D. Notae, who scored 35 points in two wins to open the tournament, this red-hot Razorbacks team heads to the second weekend fresh off holding a really good New Mexico State to only 48 points in one of their best defensive showings of the season. – Kyle Boone
(3) Texas Tech vs. (2) Duke
- Scouting the Red Raiders -- Texas Tech never missed a beat amid the coaching transition from Chris Beard to Mark Adams. The Red Raiders nagged Big 12 opponents with their tenacious defense all season and did the same thing to Notre Dame in a 59-53 second round victory. This is a balanced team with no clear superstar, but UTEP transfer Bryson Williams qualifies as a national breakout star. The versatile 6-8 forward has made the transition from Conference USA to college basketball's biggest stage look easy. He exemplifies the type toughness and grit that make Texas Tech a brutal team to face. – David Cobb
- Scouting the Blue Devils -- Duke is dancing into the Sweet 16 after dashing the upset hopes of No. 7 seed and Tom Izzo-led Michigan State in the second round on Sunday. The Blue Devils, led by Mike Krzyzewski in his final season before retirement, have a host of stars including potential No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero and shot-blocking savant Mark Williams, who rose to the occasion to help them avoid an upset to the Spartans in the second round. This team has the goods to be great with its talent and offensive firepower, but its defense, a point of contention among Duke faithful down the stretch of the season, remains one of the biggest question marks entering the second weekend. – Boone
Thursday -- AT&T Center in San Antonio
- Scouting the Wildcats -- Arizona enjoyed a solid run during Sean Miller's 12 seasons, but the Wildcats haven't made a Final Four since 2001. First-year coach Tommy Lloyd has the program primed to change that. The former longtime Gonzaga assistant has seamlessly implemented the offensive philosophies of his former program with the help of stars like Bennedict Mathurin and Azuolas Tubelis. While offense is this team's strength, the Wildcats have two excellent rim protectors in Christian Koloko and Oumar Ballo. When the Wildcats are really humming, they can rack up points faster than anyone in college basketball, and it's an impressive sight to behold considering that it's Lloyd's first year. – Cobb
- Scouting the Cougars -- Despite losing leading scorer Marcus Sasser and fifth-leading scorer Tramon Mark during the month of December, Houston's into the Sweet 16 for a third consecutive season under legendary coach Kelvin Sampson. This Cougars team has embraced the identity of many of Sampson's best bunches by smashing teams on the boards, playing a methodical and effective style on offense and suffocating teams with effort and scheme on defense. They've won 11 of their last 12 games headed to the Sweet 16 and are fresh off dominant wins over UAB and Illinois in the Big Dance. – Boone
- Scouting the Wolverines -- The Wolverines barely made the NCAA Tournament, but they validated their inclusion with victories over Colorado State and Tennessee on the opening weekend. Big man Hunter Dickinson is the engine of the team, but fifth-year senior Eli Brooks may be the soul. Together, the duo combined for 50 points against the Volunteers. This marks Michigan's fifth straight Sweet 16 appearances, a feat which spans the tenures of John Beilein and current coach Juwan Howard, who is in his third season. – Cobb
- Scouting the Wildcats -- Villanova struggled early in Round 1 against No. 15 seed Delaware but turned it on in the second half with a 20-point win that carried over into the second round, where it went wire to wire and defeated No. 7 seed Ohio State. This Wildcats team is among the oldest in this year's field led by senior guard Collin Gillespie and junior Justin Moore, a hallmark of some of coach Jay Wright's teams. Two of his last Nova clubs that made it this far wound up winning the title, and this team has the goods to do the same coming out of a wide-open South Region. – Boone
Friday-- United Center in Chicago
(1) Kansas vs. (4) Providence
- Scouting the Jayhawks -- After bowing out in the second round of the past two NCAA Tournaments, Kansas is back in the Sweet 16 following wins over Texas Southern and Creighton during the opening weekend. Senior wing Ochai Agbaji is the superstar, but he's got a strong supporting cast that includes dynamic forwards Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson. The x-factors for this team are point guard Remy Martin and David McCormack. Neither is consistent, but if the Jayhawks are going to reach the Final Four they will likely need substantive contributions from both. – Cobb
- Scouting the Friars -- Providence won the Big East regular season and has rolled with ease in its first two NCAA Tournament wins, first by holding the top 3-point shooting team in the country (South Dakota State) to 57 points then by mashing Richmond's red-hot offense with physicality in a 28-point blowout win. The Friars aren't the most talented but because of Ed Cooley's influence they're among the best-coached and their physicality and experience makes them one of the most brutal matchups. – Boone
(11) Iowa State vs. (10) Miami
- Scouting the Cyclones -- After finishing just 2-22 last season, Iowa State completed a remarkable turnaround under first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger by defeating LSU and Wisconsin to reach the Sweet 16. Otzelberger reloaded quickly via the transfer portal, and one of those players, Minnesota transfer Gabe Kalscheur, came up huge with 22 points in a defensive struggle against the Badgers in the second round. Freshman point guard Tyrese Hunter is also a big-time talent who has been integral to ISU's quick rebound.
- Scouting the Hurricanes -- Miami was one of the biggest surprises of the first weekend after knocking off No. 7 seed USC and then No. 2 seed Auburn in consecutive games. The 10th-seeded Hurricanes seem to be coming together at the right time led by the star contributions of Isaiah Wong and the veteran experience and production provided by Charlie Moore, Kam McGusty and others. Miami lost 10 games prior to the NCAA Tournament and didn't have an impressive resume, which hurt its tourney seeding, but seven of those losses were by two possessions or fewer – and three were by a single point. Being battle-tested has prepped Jim Larranaga's team for an unlikely run into the second weekend. – Boone
Friday -- Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia
- Scouting the Tar Heels-- After a home loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 16, North Carolina sat on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Tar Heels have won eight of their past nine since and just took out No. 1 seed Baylor, the defending national champions, in a second round thriller. It's been a remarkable turnaround for this team under first-year coach Hubert Davis, but the talent was never a question. With junior star Armando Bacot bruising under the basket and Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek drilling 3-pointers as a stretch power forward, this team is hitting its offensive stride. – Cobb
- Scouting the Bruins-- UCLA a season ago went from the First Four to the Final Four after gelling at the right time and riding a heater from star wing Johnny Juzang. Now the Bruins, who defeated Akron and Saint Mary's in the first and second round, respectively, are in position as an underdog no longer with almost all of the roster back and intact. All eyes will again be on Juzang in the Sweet 16 in a matchup with North Carolina with co-star Jaime Jaquez dealing with a lower body injury suffered in the second round. His status remains up in the air moving forward, though Bruins coach Mick Cronin said over the weekend that if Jaquez can walk, he'll likely play. – Boone
(3) Purdue vs. (15) Saint Peter's
- Scouting the Boilermakers -- Purdue rose to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time in program history earlier this season and remained among the nation's elite, even while navigating some defensive issues that kept it from winning the Big Ten regular season or conference titles. The Boilermakers are an offensive juggernaut led by star shooting guard Jaden Ivey and ultra-skilled big men Trevion Williams and Zach Edey. Under the direction of 17th-year coach Matt Painter, this team is seeking its first Final Four since 1980. There is no question the Boilermakers have the firepower to do it. The question is whether they have the defense to match. – Cobb
- Scouting the Peacocks -- Saint Peter's is the Cinderella story of the NCAA Tournament. After taking down No. 2 seed Kentucky as an 18.5 point underdog in the first round, the Peacocks, led by coach Shaheen Holloway, a former star at Seton Hall, followed it up with a second round win over Murray State as an 8-point underdog, becoming just the third No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16. One more win would make them the first No. 15 to ever make the Elite Eight. – Boone