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. Georgia-based combo guard becomes Charlotte’s first 2015 commitment

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Alan Major Alan Major

    With both Pierria Henry and Terrence Williams being seniors, Charlotte needed to add a perimeter player in 2015.

  2. Louisiana-based shooting guard verbally commits to Rhode Island

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT

    Rhode Island v George Washington Getty Images

    URI head coach Dan Hurley landed his second 2015 commitment Sunday evening.

  3. Wake Forest lands four-star point guard in Class of 2015

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

    Danny Manning Danny Manning

    Danny Manning finally has his first 2015 commitment and the player’s a very important one with regard to the future of the program.

  4. In-state forward becomes Cleveland State’s first 2015 commitment

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    Gary Waters

    The Vikings have added some depth to their front court for the 2015-16 season.

  5. Weight room providing valuable lessons for Wichita State newcomers

    Sep 21, 2014, 5:14 PM EDT

    Gregg Marshall Gregg Marshall

    The Shockers won’t lack for capable leaders this season, and their newcomers have followed the lead of those veterans in the weight room.

  6. Assigned Reading: Colorado State’s Antwan Scott overcomes obstacles

    Sep 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    Grambling State Grambling State

    A good read on Colorado State’s new senior transfer, Antwan Scott, overcoming family obstacles while still succeeding on the court.

  7. Washington State lands 2015 wing

    Sep 21, 2014, 2:40 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptk4nzy1otaznzgznti5nzvjyjkzndi2nzezndk3nge2 AP

    Washington State picked up a commitment from a 2015 forward on Sunday.

  8. Former UC Irvine forward could make NFL debut with Arizona Cardinals

    Sep 21, 2014, 12:50 PM EDT

    darren fells Getty Images

    A former UC Irvine forward could make his NFL debut on Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals.

  9. Wisconsin lands commitment from 2015 forward

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:43 AM EDT

    (Nike) (Nike)

    Wisconsin picked up a 2015 commitment on Sunday morning.

  10. LSU earns local commitment from the 2017 class

    Sep 21, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    johnnyjones AP

    LSU is on the board in the 2017 class.

  11. Mixtape of elite 2016 five-star guard Kobi Simmons

    Sep 21, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Five-star 2016 guard Kobi Simmons is electric.

  12. Three-star 2015 forward cuts list to seven

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT

    Area Codes Basketball Area Codes Basketball

    Three Mountain West programs and one Big Ten program among the schools on the Las Vegas native’s list.

  13. Western Kentucky junior guard Ayinde Sprewell’s highlight reel (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Ray Harper Ray Harper

    The nephew of Latrell Sprewell will play his first season at WKU.

  14. Recruiting heavyweight jumps into mix for five-star 2015 point guard

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI ISAIAH BRISCOE,BRUNO SANSIMONI

    The elite PG from New Jersey had his first in-person meeting with Kentucky head coach John Calipari on Thursday.

  15. In-state point guard becomes West Virginia’s second 2016 commitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT

    Bob Huggins AP

    The South Charleston HS floor general was one of the state’s best players last season, and he could prep for a year before joining the WVU program.

  16. High-scoring guard verbally commits to Stephen F. Austin

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Brad Underwood Brad Underwood

    The son of a former national champion has made a name for himself by scoring 28 points per game as a junior.

  17. Mount St. Mary’s gives extension to head coach Jamion Christian

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT

    jamion christian Getty Images

    Mount St. Mary’s rewarded head coach Jamion Christian with an extension.

  18. Gonzaga releases a loaded non-conference schedule

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Wichita State v Gonzaga Getty Images

    Gonzaga has one of its deepest teams of all time and the Bulldogs are challenging themselves with a difficult non-conference schedule.

  19. Bradley forward Auston Barnes charged with domestic battery following August arrest

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Peoria County Sheriff's Office Peoria County Sheriff's Office

    Bradley forward Auston Barnes has been charged with misdemeanor domestic battery following an August arrest.

  20. Pittsburgh 2016 commit Maverick Rowan re-opens his recruitment

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Pitt and head coach Jamie Dixon no longer hold a commitment from a former 2016 recruit.