Where U.S. News Ranks Colleges in the NCAA Sweet 16

Ranking schools in the Sweet 16

The 16 schools in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament aren’t just good at athletics — academics are also noteworthy. Of the teams remaining from the original group of 64 that began tournament play, 15 represent National Universities, schools that offer a full range of undergraduate majors as well as master’s and doctoral programs. The lone regional college is Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. Eight of the National Universities in the Sweet 16 are ranked in the U.S. News top 100 and 10 different athletic conferences are represented. As March Madness rages on, here’s a look at the schools that made the Sweet 16 and how each ranks, per U.S. News data.

University of Houston

U.S. News rank: 176 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 46,148

4-year graduation rate: 32%

The University of Houston is the sole member of the American Athletic Conference represented in the Sweet 16. The Cougars have played claws out this year with a 26-3 overall record. They enter the Sweet 16 riding a nine-game win streak. Houston advanced to the Final Four on five occasions in 21 tournament appearances and made it to the championship game twice, losing in both 1983 and 1984.

University of Arkansas

U.S. News rank: 160 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 27,559

4-year graduation rate: 49%

The University of Arkansas Razorbacks are one of two Southeastern Conference teams in the Sweet 16. The Razorbacks finished second in the SEC, going 24-6 overall and 13-4 in conference play. The Razorbacks lost in the SEC tournament semifinals to Louisiana State University–Baton Rouge but secured an invite to the Big Dance on the strength of their regular season record. The program has appeared in 33 prior NCAA tournaments and six Final Fours, winning it all in 1994.

Oregon State University

U.S. News rank: 153 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 31,719

4-year graduation rate: 35%

Though the Oregon State University Beavers finished in the middle of the Pac-12 with a 10-10 conference record and 19-12 overall, they find themselves in the Sweet 16 alongside three other conference members. Despite a middling Pac-12 record, the Beavers punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament by winning the conference championship. This entry into the Big Dance marks the 18th NCAA tournament appearance for Oregon State, which has reached the Final Four twice.

University of Alabama

U.S. News rank: 143 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 38,100

4-year graduation rate: 50%

The University of Alabama Crimson Tide finished the season with a 26-6 record and went 16-2 in conference play, an SEC best. That strong record carried over into the SEC tournament, where Alabama bested LSU by one point in the championship game. Over the years the Crimson Tide has made it to the NCAA tournament 21 times, but did not advance to the Final Four in any of those previous efforts.

Creighton University (NE)

U.S. News rank: 112 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 8,821

4-year graduation rate: 69%

The Creighton University Blue Jays finished second in the Big East, going 22-8 in the regular season and 14-6 in conference play before losing in the conference tournament championship. Alongside Villanova University, Creighton is one of two Big East teams to make the Sweet 16 this year. The Blue Jays reached the NCAA tournament 21 times in the past but never cracked the Final Four.

Loyola University Chicago

U.S. News rank: 112 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 17,159

4-year graduation rate: 66%

The Loyola University Chicago Ramblers are unlikely entrants in the Sweet 16 considering they had to knock off the top-seeded University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign to reach this spot, a win that the faithful may attribute in part to the presence of hard-praying 101-year old team chaplain and super fan Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. They were the top team in the Missouri Valley Conference in league play and finished the regular season with a 26-4 record overall. The Ramblers have reached the Final Four twice in six tournament appearances and won the national championship in 1963.

University of Oregon

U.S. News rank: 103 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 22,517

4-year graduation rate: 56%

The University of Oregon Ducks finished the regular season as the top team in the Pac-12 with a 21-6 overall record but fell to cross-state rival and eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon State in the conference tournament. Oregon has made it to the NCAA tournament on 17 occasions, twice advancing to the Final Four. The Ducks have one national title to their name, coming in 1939, which is the first ever men’s basketball championship recognized by the NCAA.

Gonzaga University (WA)

U.S. News rank: 80 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 7,548

4-year graduation rate: 75%

Championship buzz has followed Gonzaga University throughout an undefeated season in which the Bulldogs racked up 28 wins overall and went 15-0 in conference play. Gonzaga also claimed the West Coast Conference tournament championship en route to the Big Dance and is the only WCC member to reach the Sweet 16 this year. In 22 prior NCAA tournament appearances, the Bulldogs made the Final Four only once, advancing to the National Championship in 2017 and losing to the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill.

Baylor University (TX)

U.S. News rank: 76 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 18,033

4-year graduation rate: 63%

The Baylor University Bears lost only twice in the regular season, powering through to a 24-2 record overall and going 13-1 in the Big 12. Despite this regular season dominance, Baylor slipped in the Big 12 tournament. However, Baylor is the only Big 12 team to advance to the Sweet 16 and has made 13 tournament appearances, advancing to the Final Four twice.

Florida State University

U.S. News rank: 58 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 42,450

4-year graduation rate: 68%

The Florida State University Seminoles finished the season 18-6 overall and 11-4 in conference play, ultimately losing to the Georgia Institute of Technology in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Despite this setback, FSU is one of only two ACC teams to advance to the Sweet 16 this season. The Seminoles cracked the Final Four once in 17 prior appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Syracuse University (NY)

U.S. News rank: 58 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 22,850

4-year graduation rate: 72%

By the numbers, Syracuse University doesn’t jump off the stat sheet with an 18-9 overall record and an eighth-place finish in the ACC conference, going 9-7 in league play. Even so, The Orange is one of two ACC teams to crack the Sweet 16, joining conference runner-up Florida State University. Syracuse has a rich NCAA tournament history with 40 prior entries, six Final Four appearances and one championship win in 2003.

Villanova University (PA)

U.S. News rank: 53 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 10,848

4-year graduation rate: 87%

One of two teams in the Sweet 16 hailing from the Big East, Villanova University led in league play by winning percentage but was knocked out of the conference tournament early. Despite that setback, the Wildcats earned an invite to the NCAA tournament on the strength of an 18-6 regular season record. Villanova is a March Madness regular, having made 39 prior tournament appearances, advancing to six Final Fours and winning the national championship in 1985, 2016 and 2018.

University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

U.S. News rank: 24 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 48,090

4-year graduation rate: 80%

The University of Michigan–Ann Arbor Wolverines narrowly led the Big Ten standings this season as they went 22-4 overall and 14-3 in conference play. Michigan lost to Ohio State University–Columbus in the Big Ten tournament, but was the only conference member to advance to the Sweet 16 after Illinois and Ohio State both fell in bracket-busting games to lower-seeded opponents. In 29 prior tournament appearances, the Wolverines advanced to the Final Four eight times, winning the championship in 1989. The Wolverines last made the championship game in 2018, losing to Villanova.

University of Southern California

U.S. News rank: 24 (tie), National Universities

Total enrollment: 48,321

4-year graduation rate: 77%

The University of Southern California finished the regular season second in the competitive Pac-12 standings with a 24-7 record overall and a 15-5 performance in league play. The Trojans narrowly lost in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. This venture into the Sweet 16 marks the 19th NCAA tournament appearance for the Trojans — though one entry was vacated due to NCAA sanctions. USC has twice reached the Final Four.

University of California–Los Angeles

U.S. News rank: 20, National Universities

Total enrollment: 45,742

4-year graduation rate: 79%

In the annals of NCAA basketball history, few teams can claim the level of success that the University of California–Los Angeles Bruins boast. UCLA has 11 national championships to its name, 10 of those coming in the 1960s and ’70s under John Wooden, the legendary coach. UCLA finished fourth in a competitive Pac-12 this year, going 20-9 overall and 13-6 in conference play, though the Bruins were bounced from the Pac-12 tournament by Oregon State. UCLA has 48 prior tournament appearances — two of which were later vacated by the NCAA — and has reached the Final Four 18 times.

Oral Roberts University (OK)

U.S. News rank: 5 (tie), Regional Colleges (West)

Total enrollment: 4,042

4-year graduation rate: 43%

As the only member of The Summit League in the Sweet 16, Oral Roberts University emerged as a surprise, knocking off No. 2 seed Ohio State University–Columbus in an overtime shocker, presumably busting countless brackets. Despite defeating one of the nation’s top teams, Oral Roberts has a humble resume this season, going 18-10 in the regular season and fourth in conference winning percentage. This NCAA tournament appearance marks the sixth such trip for the Golden Eagles.

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Sweet 16 teams by U.S. News rank

— Oral Roberts University: 5 (tie), Regional Colleges (West)

— University of California–Los Angeles: 20, National Universities

— University of Michigan–Ann Arbor: 24 (tie), National Universities

— University of Southern California: 24 (tie), National Universities

— Villanova University: 53 (tie), National Universities

— Florida State University: 58 (tie), National Universities

— Syracuse University: 58 (tie), National Universities

— Baylor University: 76 (tie), National Universities

— Gonzaga University: 80 (tie), National Universities

— University of Oregon: 103 (tie), National Universities

— Creighton University: 112 (tie), National Universities

— Loyola University Chicago: 112 (tie), National Universities

— University of Alabama: 143 (tie), National Universities

— Oregon State University: 153 (tie), National Universities

— University of Arkansas: 160 (tie), National Universities

— University of Houston: 176 (tie), National Universities

More from U.S. News

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Where Big 12 Schools Rank Among the 2021 Best Colleges

Where ACC Schools Rank Among the U.S. News Best Colleges

Where U.S. News Ranks Colleges in the NCAA Sweet 16 originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 03/26/21: This slideshow has been updated with new information.

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