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Joe Boozell | | February 24, 2022

What is the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament? Everything you need to know about March Madness' regional semifinals

Bryce Drew Buzzer Beater

The Sweet 16 is the catchy name for the regional semifinal round of the NCAA tournament. Teams that make it to the Sweet 16 previously won in the second round, or the round of 32, and the winners of Sweet 16 matchups move on to the Elite Eight.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Sweet 16.

How did the Sweet 16 get its name?

It's believed that CBS commentators originally started using the term in the late 1980s after the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams. But before that, the Sweet 16 was often used for state high school basketball tournaments.

Below is an excerpt from The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa) from March 1936, describing a high school basketball tournament, so the phrase has long been associated with postseason, single-elimination basketball tournaments.

Who made it to the Sweet 16 in last year's tournament?

The teams in the Sweet 16 in the 2021 NCAA Tournament were: No. 1 seed Gonzaga, No. 5 seed Creighton, No. 6 seed Southern California, No. 7 seed Oregon, No. 1 seed Michigan, No. 4 seed Florida State, No. 2 seed Alabama, No. 11 seed UCLA, No. 1 seed Baylor, No. 5 seed Villanova, No. 3 seed Arkansas, No. 15 seed Oral Roberts, No. 8 seed Loyola Chicago, No. 12 seed Oregon State, No. 2 seed Houston and No. 11 seed Syracuse.

Click or tap here to see the complete 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket.

Where is the Sweet 16 played?

The Sweet 16 can be played all over the U.S., and it takes place in the same arenas as the Elite Eight. This year, the Sweet 16 will be played in Chicago, Philadelphia, San Antonio and San Francisco.

When does the Sweet 16 take place?

The Sweet 16 takes place on the Thursday and Friday of the second week of the NCAA tournament. This year, the dates are March 24-25, 2022.

Who are some notable Cinderellas who’ve made it to the Sweet 16?

Note: Some famous Cinderellas have made it further than the Sweet 16, but here are some teams who bowed out in the regional semis:

  • 2021 Oral Roberts (No. 15 seed)
  • 2013 Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15 seed)
  • 1986 Cleveland State (No. 14 seed)
  • 1997 Chattanooga (14 seed)
  • 2006 Bradley (No. 13 seed)
  • 1998 Valparaiso (No. 13 seed)
  • 1988 Richmond (No. 13 seed)

What seeds typically make the Sweet 16?

Here's a complete breakdown of Sweet 16 appearances by seed since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams i 1985.

Seed Appearances
No. 1 123
No. 2 91
No. 3 75
No. 4 67
No. 5 49
No. 6 43
No. 7 28
No. 8 14
No. 9 7
No. 10 23
No. 11 24
No. 12 22
No. 13 6
No. 14 2
No. 15 2
No. 16 0

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