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Ranking Sweet 16 games from least to most watchable

Ranking the Sweet 16 games this weekend from casual intrigue to must-watch status.

Oral Roberts v Florida Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The second weekend of March Madness will be in full swing on Saturday and Sunday with eight matchups making what should be an exciting Sweet 16 slate. Some matchups will have more juice and intrigue than others, so we decided to rank all eight games in terms of watchability.

8. No. 11 Syracuse vs. No. 2 Houston

Saturday, 9:55 p.m. ET on TBS

On one hand, an 11-seed sneaking into the tournament and potentially making a deep run is compelling. On the other hand, it’s Syracuse and the combo of an annoying zone defense and a coach’s son angle that will be run into the ground can make this brutal to watch if you aren’t a Cuse fan.

However, the Quentin Grimes-led Cougars are fun and every bit deserving of their No. 2 seed.

7. No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 2 Alabama

Sunday, 7:15 p.m. ET on TBS

Alabama could potentially be on upset alert against a UCLA team that is seemingly returning to their mid-season form when they were dominating the Pac-12. This could be a close one late if the high-octane Crimson Tide offense doesn’t decide to hit the gas and put it out of reach early.

6. No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 6 USC

Sunday, 9:45 p.m. ET on TBS

The Pac-12 had the best showing collectively as a conference over all other leagues in the first weekend and at the center of it were Oregon and USC. These are two evenly matched conference foes and while it may not appeal to a national audience late on a Sunday night, the familiarity between these two programs should make it a competitive matchup.

5. No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 8 Loyola Chicago

Saturday, 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS

Officer Rod Farva Cameron Krutwig and his Loyola Chicago Ramblers reintroduced themselves to the nation last weekend with a dominant second-round upset of one-seeded Illinois.

The roles are flipped with LC entering the Sweet 16 as the favorite against an Oregon State ballclub that snuck into the big dance by winning the Pac-12 Tournament. The Beavers ran off double-digit victories over Tennessee and Oklahoma State so it’ll be intriguing to see if they can put the Ramblers on their heels.

4. No. 5 Creighton vs. No. 1 Gonzaga

Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET on CBS

Gonzaga has been the bonafide top team in the nation all season long and with a stacked roster featuring three All-Americans, there is always going to be intrigue in either how much the No. 1 team can win by or will it be the day that they get caught sleeping.

That’s where fifth-seeded Creighton comes in, who have played through the Greg McDermott racist “plantation” analogy controversy to get to this point. The Bluejays have taken down elite opponents like UConn and Villanova this season but do they have the guns to match Gonzaga? We’ll find out on Sunday.

3. No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 1 Michigan

Sunday, 5 p.m. ET on CBS

Top-seeded Michigan took care of business against both Texas Southern and LSU but they’re being tabbed as the next No. 1 seed to go down and they’ll have their hands full against Florida State.

The Seminoles stood among the ACC’s elite in a down year for the conference and are poised to be game for a Michigan squad still adjusting to life without Isaiah Livers.

2. No. 15 Oral Roberts vs. No. 3 Arkansas

Saturday, 7:25 p.m. ET on TBS

Oral Roberts became the darlings of the college basketball world last weekend by knocking off two-seed Ohio State before stepping up late to upend Florida. The Golden Eagles are led by the nation’s leading scorer in the regular season Max Abmas and are now walking into a potential fireworks show of a matchup against an Arkansas team that can shoot lights out and play defense at an elite level.

A Cinderella team going blow-for-blow with a fast rising program featuring a potential NBA Lottery pick in Moses Moody has the potential to be must-watch tv in primetime on Saturday.

1. No. 5 Villanova vs. No. 1 Baylor

Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS

The best matchup in terms of KenPom will feature the No. 11 Villanova Wildcats taking on the No. 2 Baylor Bears. On one end, you have a Baylor team that’s been right behind Gonzaga as a national title favorite all season long. On the other end, you have a Jay Wright-led Villanova program that owns two national titles in recent years.

This has the potential to be the best pure matchup of the weekend and all eyes should be glued to CBS on Saturday evening.