As ever, March Madness has given fans some brilliant storylines from the world of college basketball.
There have been upsets, ‘Cinderella’ runs, and brackets busted aplenty in this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament.
As we enter the Sweet 16 stage of the tournament, these narratives are set to get even bigger.
Sweet 16 siblings
Siblings Jaime and Gabriela Jaquez are set to make history with both gearing up to represent the UCLA Bruins in the men’s and women’s Sweet 16 respectively.
The pair will become the first brother-sister duo ever to play at this stage of the tournament with progression to the Elite Eight on their minds.
The UCLA Bruins men’s team will take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs on Thursday while the women’s team faces the No. 1-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday.
However, as a result of their children’s success, the parents of the Jaquez siblings now have tough choices to make.
Speaking to reporters, Gabriela said about their parents’ travel plans: “I don’t have their flight itinerary, but I know they’re crazy. And they’re going to try to make both as best they can.
The freshman continued: “My parents are very supportive. They’ve been that way since I was a kid. And I just really appreciate all the hard work that they’ve put in trying to make it and support all three of their kids in all their sports and all their games.”
Despite having his own fixtures, Jaime has still managed to see his sister play during the tournament.
The guard said: “I was very happy I got to watch her in the second round. I was able to go. I know all the guys were there supporting the women’s team as well. I’m just very proud of the work she’s put in.”
The Jaquez siblings are not the only family duo competing at this stage of the tournament. The Cavinder twins, who play for the Miami Hurricanes, will also be taking to the court in the women’s Sweet 16.
Haley and Hanna, whose joint TikTok account has over 4.5 million followers, have burst to prominence this season, with Haley proving key in the Hurricanes’ shock 70-68 win against the No. 1 seed Indiana Hoosiers in the last round.
The point guard kept her cool and nailed two huge free throws in the clutch before shushing rival fans in the crowd.
The twins will take on the Villanova Wildcats in the Sweet 16 on Friday with the Hurricanes looking to stage another upset as they continue their dream run through the tournament.
Rivalries and upsets
No. 2 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 3 Gonzaga Bulldogs
No. 2 seed UCLA faces No. 3 seeded Gonzaga in a huge men’s Sweet 16 game at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The teams have developed a rivalry over recent years and will be playing for more than just a victory on the court – bragging rights are on the line.
Anton Watson, a forward for Gonzaga, spoke on the competitiveness between the two colleges: “There’s been a rivalry kind of building up the past couple of years. Every time we play them, it’s a high-energy game.”
The 22-year-old continued: “There’s going to be a lot of fans there from both sides. And they really want to beat us, and we want to beat them. It’s going to be a fun game. We know what to expect. It’s really just going to be competitive from the start.”
No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls
The No. 9-seeded Florida Atlantic Owls have flown through to the Sweet 16 and will now take on the fourth-seeded Tennessee Volunteers with an upset in mind.
FAU head coach Dusty May previously said that Tennessee plays an Australian rugby-style of basketball but has gone back on this since.
“I feel bad because I combined two sports,” May said. “There’s Australian rules football and then there’s rugby, and I should have known that, but it was the first thing that came into my mind.”
The coach added: “But I say that in the most complimentary way possible. Coach Barnes is a legend and it hasn’t changed. When I was at Florida, they were the same way, and it was hard to make a pass, let alone score a basket against them.”
Elsewhere on Thursday, No. 3 Kansas State plays No. 7 Michigan State and No. 4 UConn is up against No. 8 Arkansas.
The men’s Sweet 16 action will then continue Friday. No. 15 Princeton faces No. 6 Creighton with the Tigers looking to continue their Cinderella run. No. 2 Texas will play No. 3 Xavier, No. 1 Houston takes on No. 5 Miami and No. 1 Alabama faces No. 5 San Diego State.
‘Cinderella’ to continue at the ball?
No. 4 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 9 Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes are the only real ‘Cinderella’ team left in the women’s tournament and they take on the No. 4 seeded Villanova. The ninth-seed will be hoping to continue its form after a dramatic win against No. 1 seed Indiana last time out.
“It doesn’t feel real, still,” Miami forward Lola Pendande told reporters after the win. “When we were done with the game, I was like: ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. We’re here. We’re really here.’”
The upset result also marked the first-time multiple No. 1 seeds have fallen before the Sweet 16 in the women’s bracket since 1998.
Elsewhere No. 1 seed South Carolina will face No. 4 UCLA, No. 3 Notre Dame takes on No. 2 Maryland, No. 8 Ole Miss faces No. 5 Louisville and No. 6 seed Colorado will battle with No. 2 seed Iowa for a spot in the Elite Eight.
No. 3 LSU faces No. 2 Utah, No. 1 Virginia Tech will play No. 4 Tennessee and No. 3 Ohio State duels with 11-time NCAA champion UConn.