Grading Each Sweet 16 Team by Their Rootability (Daily Sports Thought 3/20)

I’m not sure rootability is even a real word (just checked and it is in fact not recognized in the English language). So maybe I can start a movement here with my made-up word. If you are like me and your favorite team is not in the NCAA Tournament (Go Cougs) and your bracket is already busted (Boo Kentucky) then you are what I would call a fan free-agent. You are free to root for whoever you want for the rest of the tournament, but how do you decide which team to choose. I will try to help you out here by grading each Sweet 16 team by their rootability going forward in the field.

North Carolina 3/5

  • The five starters play nearly all of the minutes, so they’re kinda like the Cal Ripken of March Madness
  • Brady Manek looks like a lumberjack but shoots threes off the catch like Klay Thompson (plus he’s got a mean elbow that wouldn’t be out of place in the UFC)
  • Armando Bacot was one of the best players in the ACC this year and he plays with a crazy intensity

Kansas 2/5

  • They haven’t won a National Championship since 2008 so that’s a reason to root for them
  • Ochai Agbaji is one of the stars of this year’s college basketball season and a great example of a player betting on themself and using another year of college to boost their draft stock
  • They are one of the most successful college hoops programs in the history of the sport and I like to root against those types of teams

Michigan 2/5

  • Juwan Howard punched a coach earlier this season so it’s hard to want to see him succeed
  • They are the only team from the Big Ten to have tournament success the past two seasons
  • Hunter Dickinson is a great player to watch if you are a fan of old-school, back-to-the-basket post offense

Providence 3/5

  • They’re from Rhode Island so it would be cool to have a national champion from the smallest state geographically in the country
  • They’re from Rhode Island and I don’t know if anyone actually lives there and it’s possible the entire state is fake
  • They play incredibly tough on the defensive end
  • There is no true superstar on the team so they rely on the entire team to function together

UCLA 3/5

  • They have enough championships already don’t they?
  • If you feel bad for them about how they were eliminated last year they could earn some sympathy
  • They fill the court with shot creators and can have a different player lead the way every night

Saint Peter’s: 5/5

  • Doug Edert (do you even need other reasons?)
  • Their mascot is the freakin’ Peacocks
  • Cinderella runs are the best part of March Madness and this team has the chance to make history
  • If you don’t root for a team like Saint Peter’s to advance then you literally do not like fun and I don’t like you

Arkansas 4/5

  • They have become a legit title contender under Eric Musselman recently and turnarounds like that are always fun
  • J.D. Notae might be the best player you’ve never heard about in college hoops (unless you know nothing about college basketball and then probably don’t know any of the really good players)
  • They play really scrappy basketball that is very fun to watch

Gonzaga 4/5

  • Every year they get better and better and closer and closer to finally winning a title but haven’t sealed the deal yet
  • Drew Timme is not only one of the best players in college basketball, but one of the best personalities as well (and not to mention the best facial hair in the sport)
  • Chet Holmgren looks like he would break in half if someone blew on him yet he dunks on people and swats shots all game, and he is going to be a top-three pick in the NBA Draft

Houston 4/5

  • I doubted this team at the start of March Madness because they lost two starters this season to season-ending injuries yet here they are
  • There probably isn’t a team left in the field that plays harder than these guys
  • Kelvin Sampson is one of the best and most likable coaches in college basketball (and he used to coach WSU so that’s another plus for me)

Villanova 3/5

  • They are a really good team that operates like a well-oiled machine on the court but they’ve won two national championships in the past six years so they need to let someone else get a chance
  • Collin Gillespie has defied the recent trends in college basketball by staying at Nova for five years, and he is one of the best guards in the country and is playing on fire right now
  • Jay Wright is a class act and is going to be one of the best coaches in the sport for a while

Duke 2/5

  • The only thing saving Duke from having a lower rootability score from me is that this is Coach K’s final season and it would be cool if he won a Natty and rode off into the sunset
  • The talent on this team is insane, Paolo Banchero will be a top pick in the draft, Mark Williams is a freak athlete of a big man, and AJ Griffin and Trevor Keels are intriguing players that would be superstars on most other teams
  • Coach K has won five championships including two since 2010 so they don’t really need another one

Texas Tech 5/5

  • They made the championship game in 2019 but lost in overtime to Virginia so it would be nice to see them redeem that loss
  • Mark Adams took over as head coach when Chris Beard left to go to Texas and seeing a former assistant get the job and win a title in year one would be a great story
  • Remember last year’s Cinderella team, Oral Roberts? Well one of the best players from that team, Kevin Obanor, now plays for Texas Tech so if you rooted for them last year you might as well root for the Red Raiders

Miami 4/5

  • They are playing the role of Power-5 Cinderella so it takes them a notch below a true Cinderella
  • Isaiah Wong is having one of the best tournaments out there and dunked on a future top-five NBA draft pick
  • They have been playing really close and interesting games lately before whooping Auburn’s ass

Iowa State 5/5

  • Another team playing Power-5 Cinderella and unfortunately those two teams have to play each other in the Sweet 16
  • They finished 2-21 last season and are in the midst of one of the most impressive one-season turnarounds in recent memory
  • Aljaz Kunc used to play for WSU so they get to claim 1/12of whatever success the Cyclones achieve

Purdue 3/5

  • Zach Edey is the only 7-foot-4 player in the tournament and he’s genuinely a good player that is fun to watch
  • Jaden Ivey was one of the best players in the nation this season and has continued to play like it so you can watch him play before he goes off and becomes a very high draft pick
  • Trevion Williams took a reduced role because of the emergence of Edey without complaining and has thrived in his role, he deserves much more credit than he is getting

Arizona 5/5

  • They played probably the game of the tournament so far against TCU in the last game of the opening weekend
  • Benedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko racked up the Pac-12 end of season awards and rightfully so
  • Mathurin might be playing better basketball than anyone else in the tournament right now, he dominated in the win over TCU, including a huge three-pointer to send the game to overtime
  • Tommy Lloyd is another coach having unexpected success in his first season after spending a ton of years with Gonzaga suffering postseason heartbreak