Midwest Region Sweet Sixteen

Written by: Miles Jordan

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Midwest Sweet 16 Matchup

Here, we look at the matchups in the Sweet Sixteen for the Midwest region, where four powerhouses battle for two spots in the Elite Eight. Below is the schedule for these two games and a brief overview of each team still standing in the Midwest.

Friday, March 29 (Sweet 16)

(1) Purdue vs. (5) Gonzaga | 7:39 p.m. |TBS/truTV

(2) Tennessee vs. (3) Creighton | 10:09 p.m. |TBS/truTV

No. 1 Purdue

Zach Edey Purdue Center

The Boilermakers are preparing for their first real test in the NCAA tournament, facing No. 5 Gonzaga on Friday, March 29. As a No. 1 seed, Purdue has had one of the easier paths to the Sweet Sixteen, defeating No. 16 Grambling by 28 points in the round of 64 and dominating No. 8 Utah State in the round of 32, scouring 106 points to Utah State’s 67 points. Purdue has been led all year by senior center Zach Edey, who stands at 7’4” and 300 pounds and is averaging 24.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and 62.3% from the field this season. Edey earned AP Men's Player of the Year in 2023, the best men's college basketball player, and has shown why he deserved that honor this season. Edey has been the backbone of the Purdue offense and defense the entire season, and he can continue his fantastic season against the Bulldogs; Purdue will be moving on to the Elite Eight.

No. 4 Gonzaga

Benn Gregg Gonzaga Forward

The Zags have played a very impressive tournament so far, winning both of their two first and second-round games by 20+ points, including a win against No. 4 Kansas in the round of 32. Gonzaga has succeeded due to forward Graham Ike, who leads his team with 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. However, all eyes will be on forwards Ben Gregg and Braden Huff, tasked with guarding Purdue’s center, Zach Edey. Greg and Huff stand at 6’10”, six inches shorter than Edey, and both players weigh 55+ pounds less than Edey. If Gonzaga is going to find success against the No. 1 seeded Boilermakers, they will need to find ways to limit Edeys production and force other players on Purdue to make plays.

No. 3 Creighton

Creighton Advances to the Sweet Sixteen

Creighton enters the Sweet Sixteen after a thriller double OT win against the No. 11 Oregon Ducks. Oregon hung with Creighton for all of the regulation; however, the Bluejays took over in overtime, outsourcing the Ducks by 13 points to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Creighton needs to continue playing team basketball to capture a victory over the No. 2 Tennesee Volunteers. In Round 32, four players scored 18+ points, showing that there isn't just one player for whom Tennesee needs to watch. Creighton also shot 13-14 (92.9%) from the free throw line against Oregon, which was significant not only because they missed one free throw but also because they could shoot 14 total free throws. If Creighton hopes to advance past Tennesee, they must involve their entire team in scoring and make sure they give themselves chances at the free throw line.

No. 2 Tennessee

Dalton Knecht Tennesee Guard

Tennesee scraped past No. 7 seed Texas, capturing a 62-58 win against the Longhorns in the round of 32 to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The Volunteers were led by guard Dalton Knecht, who scored 18 points and made four free throws in the final 8.8 seconds of the game to secure Tennesee’s four-point victory. Tennessee led by nine at half to the Longhorns but opened the door in the second half, allowing Texas to claw their way back into the game, which is something that cannot happen against the Creighton Bluejays. Tennessee looks to advance further than the Sweet Sixteen with a win against Creighton for the first time under head coach Rick Burns.