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. E.C. Matthews will return to Rhode Island

    Apr 19, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    E.C. Matthews AP

    Rhode Island is getting E.C. Matthews back for his junior season.

  2. Former Vanderbilt guard finds a new home in the ACC

    Apr 19, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    A former top-100 player found a new home in the ACC.

  3. Former Alabama guard transfers to Georgia State

    Apr 19, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    A former top-150 prospect is heading from the SEC to Georgia State.

  4. Mixtape of No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2017, DeAndre Ayton (VIDEO)

    Apr 19, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    ayton

    DeAndre Ayton is one of the best prospects in high school basketball.

  5. UNLV awaiting two important personnel decisions in its front court

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Wood returning would ensure that this young but talented front line wouldn’t lack for experience.

  6. Missouri receives commitments from two John A. Logan College players

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:56 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Missouri is hopeful that these two junior college products can help them rebound from a tough 2014-15.

  7. Vermont signee injured in car crash speaks first words in more than ten weeks

    Apr 18, 2015, 7:44 PM EDT

    Vermont Athletics Vermont Athletics

    Josh Speidel hadn’t spoken since the crash February 1. His first word: “Mom.”

  8. Three-star forward Rapolas Ivanauskas becomes Northwestern’s first 2016 commitment

    Apr 18, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Chris Collins and his staff have done a good job of recruiting local talent, and they reeled in another player Saturday.

  9. 2016 New Mexico commit Mitch Lightfoot decides to reopen recruitment

    Apr 18, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Craig Neal Craig Neal

    Lightfoot was on the receiving end of offers from Arizona State and Utah before committing to UNM, and the new staff at ASU has already reached out to him.

  10. Former Cornell forward Shonn Miller headed to UConn for final season of eligibility

    Apr 18, 2015, 4:39 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpte4mwi1zmrlntq4ndc4yjfiywyzztq3zgnhzgfhmgu0 AP

    Miller averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, and he’s an important addition for the UConn front court.

  11. Five members of Iowa State’s 2014-15 team have been arrested after two more arrests this week

    Apr 18, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Dustin Hogue AP

    More arrests at Iowa State as two more members of the 2014-15 roster were charged within the last week.

  12. Boise State star granted fifth year of eligibility

    Apr 18, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Anthony Drmic AP

    Boise State received some encouraging news this week as Anthony Drmic is returning for another season.

  13. Purdue center A.J. Hammons to return for senior season

    Apr 18, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hammons’ decision to return makes the Boilermakers a Top 25 team.

  14. Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan will earn his degree this spring

    Apr 18, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    Eddie Jordan AP

    Rutgers head coach Eddie Jordan has been taking classes at the school in order to complete his degree.

  15. Storylines from the Jordan Brand Classic: Diallo claims another MVP; Briscoe wins over crowd

    Apr 18, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT

    2015 Jordan Brand Classic Getty Images

    A look at the top storylines from the 14th annual Jordan Brand Classic.

  16. Illinois lands commitment from Charlotte graduate transfer big man Mike Thorne Jr.

    Apr 18, 2015, 11:58 AM EDT

    Kacinas Thorne AP

    Illinois landed a huge graduate transfer on Saturday.

  17. Report: Coppin State graduate transfer Sterling Smith will visit four programs

    Apr 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Sterling Brown, Rashad Smith AP

    Coppin State junior guard Sterling Smith is looking like a prime graduate transfer.

  18. Five-star Kentucky commit believes the NCAA will clear him to play

    Apr 18, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    Kentucky five-star big man Skal Labissiere believes that the NCAA will allow him to play this season.

  19. West defeats East 118-116 in the Jordan Brand Classic

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Cheick Diallo won named MVP for both the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.

  20. Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg undergoes successful open heart surgery

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hoiberg just completed his fifth season at Iowa State.