EL PASO, Texas – The 2017 NCAA Sweet 16 begins Thursday, March 23 with six programs that have played in the Annual WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in the past.
Purdue, Michigan, Arizona, Baylor, Florida and South Carolina are set to play this weekend with hopes to advance to the 2017 Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Big Dance continues on March 23 with the first games from the Midwest Region bracket. No. 4 seed Purdue takes on No. 1 seed Kansas State. In 1984, Purdue challenged UTEP in the Championship Game of the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational becoming the 24th Champion of the annual Sun City tournament.
Purdue hoping to secure a spot in the Final Four, advanced to the Sweet 16 after defeating Vermont, 80-70 and Iowa State, 80-76.
Michigan is the No. 7 seed out of the Midwest Region bracket and will square up against No. 2 seed Oregon. Michigan is advancing after it was victorious over Oklahoma State, 92-91 and Louisville, 73-69. Michigan traveled to El Paso back in 1978 and 1983 to compete in WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational.
Out of the West Region, No. 2 seeded Arizona is set for a showdown with No. 11 seeded Xavier. Arizona is proceeding to the Sweet 16 after a 100-82 win against North Dakota in the first round and a 69-60 victory against St. Mary’s California. Xavier pulled of the upset over No. 3 Florida State in the second round.
“It’s always really interesting to look back and see all the great programs that have come through El Paso,” said Executive Director of the Sun Bowl Association, Bernie Olivas.
In the East Region of the bracket, No. 3 seeded Baylor takes on South Carolina on Friday, March 24. Baylor played in the 1961, 1963 and 1967 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational and South Carolina played in the 1989 Sun Bowl tournament. Baylor advanced to the Sweet 16 by eliminating New Mexico State 91-73 in the first round of the NCAA tournament and USC 82-78 in the second round.
South Carolina, who played in the 1989 WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational, has found itself in the Sweet 16 by beating Marquette 93-73 in round one and upsetting Duke 88-81 in the second round. South Carolina became the 29th WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Champion after battling it out with Kansas State 62-60 in overtime.
Florida is the No. 4 seed out of the East Region in the bracket and faces Wisconsin on March 24. Defeating East Tennessee State 80-65 in round one and Virginia 65-39 in round two, the Gators are hoping to stay hot when they take on the Badgers. Florida made one appearance in WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational in 1992.
Now in its 56th year, the WestStar Bank Don Haskins Sun Bowl Invitational is the oldest collegiate holiday basketball tournament in the country. The tournament is held annually at UTEP’s Don Haskins Center.
The 2017 edition is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 21 and Friday, Dec. 22. Teams have yet to be announced.