Skip to content

Re-ranking the Sweet 16: Now who are the favorites?

Mar 19, 2012, 9:00 AM EDT

spt-120318-kentucky Getty Images

There are 16 teams left in the NCAA tournament. Every single one of them has had a winning streak of four games this season. To cut down the nets on April 2, all they need to do is put together one last four game winning streak. Who is the most likely to do so?

Sweet 16 Power Rankings

1. Kentucky: The Wildcats are the unquestionable favorite to win the national title. They are the most talented team in the country. There are lottery picks up and down their lineup. And when they are playing with as much intensity and shooting as well as they did on Saturday against Iowa State, they are going to be unbeatable.

The Problem: The Wildcats aren’t always playing that way. Marquis Teague and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been as inconsistent as you would expect freshmen to be. Terrence Jones is always on the brink of a meltdown. Kentucky should win the national title. They probably should have won in 2010 as well.

2. Michigan State: I’ll avoid the typical “they are coached by Tom Izzo” statements here. The Spartans are the most complete team in the country. They defend, they rebound, they have post scoring, they have perimeter scoring and they have Draymond Green. They do everything well.

The Problem: The Spartans are without Branden Dawson, who tore his ACL on the last day of the regular season. Yes, Michigan State is 5-0 without him, but his void is unmistakable. His ability to defend and rebound at the small forward spot is what made Michigan State so difficult to matchup with.

3. Kansas: Tyshawn Taylor has been as good as any point guard in the country in 2012. Thomas Robinson has been as good as any player in the country all season long. With Jeff Withey defending the rim and Elijah Johnson and Kevin Young turning into meaningful role players, the Jayhawks are as balanced and talented as they have been all season.

The Problem: Inconsistency. The Jayhawks got bailed out by Elijah Johnson’s defining moment as a member of the Kansas program on Sunday night. Taylor is always a threat to turn into a turnover machine. Robinson plays as hard as anyone in the country, but he isn’t as skilled as other big men. Off nights do happen when defenses key on him.

4. Ohio State: Aaron Craft is the most disruptive defensive force this side of Anthony Davis, and his offense is really starting to come around. Deshaun Thomas has been terrific offensively of late, and Jared Sullinger is still Jared Sullinger. Injuries haven’t hit this team yet, which means they are still the same group they were in November.

The Problem: William Buford has not yet broken out of his funk offensively, and while Sullinger is still the best low-post scorer in the country, he’s not been himself recently. It’s a problem for OSU if Craft and Thomas are their two most reliable offensive options.

5. Syracuse: With injuries to other title contenders, the right side of the bracket has suddenly become wide open. Syracuse still is very talented offensively, as guys like Scoop Jardine, Dion Waiters and Kris Joseph are all capable of playing a starring role. James Southerland has become a reliable jumpshooter in the clutch.

The Problem: Rakeem Christmas looked decent against Kansas State, but he can’t replace Fab Melo defensively and he certainly doesn’t solve their rebounding issues. Southerland is not a good defender. If UNC-Asheville can pick apart the 2-3 zone, than somewhere along the line a better team is going to.

6. North Carolina: With or without Kendall Marshall, UNC is still a very talented basketball team. Their front line is as good as anyone in the country. Harrison Barnes is an dangerous scorer on the wing. Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston have been solid on the wings this year.

The Problem: Stilman White was capable in his minutes backing up Marshall, but now he’s being thrust into a starring role. Will he be able to distribute the ball to UNC’s scorers?

7. Marquette: The Golden Eagles are lethal in transition, and they are as good as anyone in the country at using pressure to increase the tempo of the game to their liking. With Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom on the roster, they have two seniors that are not going to let accept losing. Davante Gardner provides an another look now that he’s healthy.

The Problem: Using Gardner makes Marquette slower and less capable of using the athletes they have on their perimeter, but they’ll need him against teams with bigger bodies inside. The Golden Eagles also have issues with slow starts.

8. Baylor: Baylor is as talented as any team in the country. They have length and athleticism at every position except the two-guard spot, which is occupied by sniper Brady Heslip, who hit nine threes against Colorado in the round of 32. Pierre Jackson is a bulldog at the point.

The Problem: Consistent effort. Consistent defense. It’s that simple. Perry Jones III still seems reluctant to be the kind of player he is capable of being.

9. Louisville: I love their defense and what Peyton Siva has turned into over the last month, but can it last? Will they have enough shooting? Most importantly, will they stay healthy?

10. Indiana: Since switching Victor Oladipo to a more predominant role as a ball handler, the Hoosiers have gotten better defensively and more athletic, but this is still a group that can struggle to get stops. They can score, however, with players like Cody Zeller and Christian Watford.

11. Cincinnati: The Bearcats are aggressive defensively and surround big man Yancy Gates with a myriad of shooters. But on nights the shots are off, the Bearcats can be in trouble.

12. Wisconsin: I love Jordan Taylor, but this is not junior year Jordan Taylor. And it’s not junior year Jordan Taylor’s supporting cast.

13. Florida: Florida has enough talent and scoring ability to beat anyone in the country on the right night. Do you have faith that they’ll be able to put it all together for four straight games? I don’t.

14. Xavier: Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons can be as good as any back court in the country, particularly Holloway, who is a killer in big situations. Kenny Frease can be a beast on the block. But all three can also be horrible on any given night.

15. NC State: The Wolfpack have won over a lot of people in the last two games with their stellar front court play. But they will have to go through Kansas and UNC before getting to the Final Four. That’s tough.

16. Ohio: I love DJ Cooper. He’s sensational. Ohio’s a great story. But their road ends sooner rather than later.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Florida commit KeVaughn Allen puts together an impressive Peach Jam (VIDEO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:15 PM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Florida commit KeVaughn Allen had a great week at Peach Jam.

  2. Report: Dismissed Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt turning pro

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt Jordan Henriquez, Jarvis Threatt

    Former Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt is turning pro after being dismissed from the program in June.

  3. Iowa State’s Georges Niang provides visual evidence of his weight loss (PHOTO)

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT

    niang Getty Images

    Didn’t believe Niang when he stated that he’d reshaped his body? Here’s visual evidence that he did.

  4. Rawle Alkins carries the torch as one of New York’s next great guards

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    New York City guard Rawle Alkins is one player to monitor in the Class of 2016.

  5. College Basketball Talk’s Class of 2015 Draft

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    If allowed to do so, how would a draft of the Class of 2015′s best players go? Here’s our attempt.

  6. Marcus Foster still hasn’t forgotten, or forgiven, those pulled scholarships

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Texas native isn’t happy some Texas schools pulled their scholarship offers.

  7. Las Vegas Thursday Recap: Skal Labissiere, Stephen Zimmerman perform well

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:49 AM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Two of the nation’s best big men were on the same court Thursday, with Zimmerman’s Oakland Soldiers getting the win.

  8. UTPA head coach Dan Hipsher announces addition of Willie Watson to staff

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    UTPA Athletics UTPA Athletics

    Hipsher worked with Watson from 2009-11, when he was associate head coach at Alabama and Watson a grad assistant.

  9. Forward Nikola Vujovic won’t be joining Monmouth program

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    King Rice AP

    Despite the fact that Vujovic made it through the NCAA Eligibility Center, Monmouth has decided to not admit him.

  10. Report: With Tennessee, FGCU in the past, Eric McKnight finds new landing spot

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT

    Florida Gulf Coast Eagles v San Diego State Aztecs Getty Images

    Eric McKnight’s waiver to play immediately was denied by the SEC.

  11. Head coach John Groce receives contract extension from Illinois

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    John Groce AP

    Groce is under .500 in Big Ten play in his two seasons at Illinois.

  12. Florida State announces non-conference slate that includes Florida, Nebraska

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT

    hamilton AP

    Florida State will play five non-conference games against teams that reached the NCAA tournament last season.

  13. Kentucky’s freshman try on their uniforms (PHOTOS)

    Jul 24, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    @specialk44 @specialk44

    The four latest five-star recruits that Cal landed all showed off their Kentucky threads on instagram.

  14. Tennessee gets some big news regarding freshman Detrick Mostella (VIDEO)

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 5.58.11 PM

    Mostella has travelled a long road to get to Knoxville.

  15. Former Oregon guard Brandon Austin has found a landing spot

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    image

    Austin has found a landing place, but it’s still a long way from the Division I ranks.

  16. Stanford’s non-conference schedule is strong

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    dawkins Getty Images

    Three true road games and a visit from the reigning champs?

  17. Thon Maker’s guardian: It’s ‘not very likely’ that he will reclassify

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Adidas Hoops Adidas Hoops

    Thon Maker is a top five recruit in 2016 and would be a top two or three recruit in 2015.

  18. Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg returns to practice, but not to recruiting

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Hoiberg had surgery to replace his pacemaker last week.

  19. Two new regular season college hoops events headed to Vegas

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    IjMOm5u

    The events will be played in November and December

  20. Kansas recruit Svi Mykhailiuk scores 19 in U18 Euro debut

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Mykhailiuk is playing in the B Division of the event.