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Top Dogs, Underdogs Fill NCAA's 'Sweet 16'

Cornell's Jon Jaques (25) and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor go after a loose ball. hide caption

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Cornell's Jon Jaques (25) and Wisconsin's Jordan Taylor go after a loose ball.

Old dynasties and new faces are still alive in the NCAA men's basketball tournament after an opening two rounds full of upsets, overtime, buzzer-beaters and nail-biters.

When play begins Thursday and Friday in the round of 16, three No. 1 seeds will still be alive ... but so will a No. 10, a No. 11 and a No. 12.

Sunday's action included another win by Cornell, a No. 12 seed that has handled two higher-ranked teams so easily you'd be hard-pressed to call the wins over Temple and Wisconsin upsets.

In other Sunday outcomes that defied the oddsmakers, No. 6 seed Xavier knocked off No. 3 seed Pitt and No. 5 seed Michigan State topped No. 4 seed Maryland.

There were predictable results, too: No. 1 seed Syracuse dismantled No. 9 seed Gonzaga, No. 2 seed Ohio State held off No. 10 seed Georgia Tech and No. 3 seed West Virginia got past No. 10 seed Missouri.

And in an overtime thriller, No. 4 seed Purdue — playing without injured star Robbie Hummell — managed to edge No. 5 seed Texas A&M, 63-61, to lock down the last spot in the Sweet 16.

Bite Of The Underdog

But throughout the first two rounds of the tournament, the bite of the underdog was felt. No. 9 seed Northern Iowa stunned overall No. 1 seed Kansas Saturday, 69-67.

And besides Northern Iowa, the Sweet 16 lineup includes No. 10 seed Saint Mary's (victorious over Richmond and Villanova) and No. 11 seed Washington (a winner over Marquette and New Mexico).

Then there's Butler. The Bulldogs aren't an out-and-out surprise — this is the third time in eight years that they've reached the Sweet 16, and they're a No. 5 seed — but they are representative of the recent rise of "mid-major" teams from smaller schools that have bedeviled the power conferences in recent NCAA tournaments.

And the tournament's topsy-turvy first round included eight wins by lightly regarded "double digit" seeds — No. 10 or higher.

Sweet 16 Matchups

So the pairings are set for the next round of play.

In the East bracket, powerful Kentucky will be the next opponent up for confident Cornell, while Washington gets a shot at West Virginia.

In the South, Duke will contend with Purdue, while Baylor squares off with Saint Mary's.

In the Midwest, Ohio State plays No. 6 seed Tennessee as Northern Iowa tries to stay on its roll against Michigan State.

And in the West, Xavier gets No. 2 seed Kansas State while Syracuse faces Butler.

If you're counting by conference, that's three from the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue); two from the Big East (Syracuse, West Virginia), Big 12 (Kansas State, Baylor) and SEC (Kentucky, Tennessee); one from the ACC (Duke) and Pac-10 (Washington); four of those pesky mid-majors (Northern Iowa/Missouri Valley Conference; Butler/Horizon League; Xavier/Atlantic Ten; Saint Mary's/West Coast Conference) and one from the Ivy League (Cornell).