Skip to content

Sweet 16 Power Rankings: Who are the best teams left in the field?

Mar 24, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

source:

AP Photo

The first weekend could not have been more thrilling, beginning with Vee Sanford’s runner that sent No. 11 Dayton past No. 6 Ohio State and ending with the dunk show that Aaron Gordon put on for No. 1 Arizona.

In between, we unbelievably only had one true buzzer-beater — Cameron Ridley dispatching No. 10 Arizona State — but we did manage to put together the best day of Round of 64 games ever and the single best college basketball game since Louisville beat Michigan for the 2013 title.

We now have just 16 teams left in the dance. Here they are, ranked:

MORECoverage from the first weekend of the tournament | Sweet 16 Preview

1. Florida: The Gators were not as aesthetically dominating as some of the other teams left in the field, but when you combine the strength and versatility of Billy Donovan’s defense with Scottie Wilbekin’s ability to close out games down the stretch, the Gators are going to be a very, very difficult team to beat.

2. Michigan State: The Spartans were dominant for about 70 of the 80 minutes of the first weekend of the tournament. For the other ten, they allowed Harvard to erase an 18 point deficit and take the lead late in the second half. Consistency will be key, but when the Spartans are focused and at their best, there may not be a more dangerous team left.

3. Virginia: When Virginia’s defense is clicking, you just don’t get good looks at the rim. Period. The key for Tony Bennett’s club is on the offensive end, and when they can execute the way they did against Memphis, they’re tough. That game between the Cavs and the Spartans on Friday night will be a doozy.

4. Arizona: The Wildcats have the most blowout potential of anyone left in the field. When they can speed you up and force turnovers, they embarrass people. Force them into a half court game, however, and they can be beaten. Quality guard play is key.

UK-WSUHype was justified | How good can Kentucky be? | One loss ruins Wichita State’s season?

source:

AP Photo

5. Louisville: The Cards didn’t play near their best against Manhattan or Saint Louis and still managed to win their pod. They’ll have their work cut out for them against Kentucky on Friday night. Russ Smith is going to have to play better than he did over the weekend.

6. Kentucky: The biggest x-factor left. They looked like a national title contender on Sunday, which came just 22 days after Kentucky lost in ugly fashion at South Carolina. If they play like they did against Wichita State for the rest of the tournament and the Wildcats might cut down the nets, yet I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Louisville beat them by 20.

7. Michigan: Duke’s lost opened things up for the Wolverines, but Tennessee actually matches up well with them. Michigan can be beaten by teams with powerful front lines and/or with a little guard that can bother Nik Stauskas. Tennessee has both.

8. Wisconsin: The Badgers were impressive in their come-from-behind win over Oregon, but now they’ll draw arguably the hottest team left in the tournament.

9. Baylor: The Bears are streaking. They ran both Nebraska and Creighton off the court after winning nine of their last 11 entering the tournament. As much criticism as Scott Drew gets, a tweak in their zone — hugging shooters, daring penetrators to try to score over Isaiah Austin in the lane — was the difference against the Bluejays.

KANSASJoel Embiid’s back injury cost all of us | Bill Self’s fifth tourney loss to No. 9 seed or lower

10. Tennessee: Jarnell Stokes and Jordan McRae are going to get the attention, but Josh Richardson’s emergence as a tertiary scorer has been huge. He averaged 19.3 points in Tennessee’s three tournament games.

11. UCLA: Of everyone left in the dance, UCLA is the one team I have the most trouble evaluating. They can score and they are as talented on the perimeter as anyone left in the tournament. But how good is their front line? And can they defend at this level against elite competition?

12. Iowa State: The Cyclones would have been much higher on this list if Georges Niang hadn’t broken his foot. He created so many matchup problems for Fred Hoiberg’s club. I’m not sure Iowa State can bet Virginia or Michigan State without him.

13. UConn: You can never count out a team with Shabazz Napier on it, but there are two things that worry me about the Huskies: the status of Napier’s shin/lower leg/ankle/whatever it is he injured on Saturday night, and the inconsistency of DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright.

14. San Diego State: The Aztecs are as good as anyone left in the field on the defensive end of the floor, but they have trouble scoring the ball outside of Xavier Thames. It’s probably not a good thing that they’re running into Arizona on Thursday.

15. Stanford: The Cardinal have a massive, deep front line, but their lack of a point guard and turnover issues are a concern when compared to some of the elite defenses still dancing.

16. Dayton: The Flyers are simply at a talent deficit compared to everyone else left in the tournament. But they were at a talent deficit against Ohio State and Syracuse, and they’ll draw Stanford with a chance to get to the Elite 8. Archie!

Latest Posts
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. Las Vegas Wednesday Recap: Corey Sanders working to become a better leader

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    The final open period has begun, with Corey Sanders and Jalen Brunson among the standouts.

  20. USC Upstate assistant Kyle Perry promoted to associate head coach

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:59 PM EDT

    USC Upstate Athletics USC Upstate Athletics

    Perry’s been at USC Upstate since 2009, and among the players he’s helped recruit was former great Torrey Craig.