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NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 5:38pm

Everyone’s favorite team of the year is here, March Madness. The one month where the unexpected seems to happen on a daily basis. This week, brackets will be busted, teams will be sent home early, and Cinderella stories will begin.

This week’s Power 16 is more than just power rankings, it’s the 16 teams with the best odds to win it all. Everything is taken into account, schedule, matchups, how hot teams are, the whole 9 yards. Without further ado, here are your most likely teams to cut down the nets on April 2nd in San Antonio.

Rank (Last week's rank)
Record
Comment
1. Villanova (5)
30-4
For a long time, Villanova looked like the team to beat this season. After some late season struggles, Nova seems to be right back at the peak of their game. Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges showed that even when the rest of the team is off, they can shoulder the workload and lead the team to a W. In my opinion, getting past West Virginia would almost lock up a Final Four bid as Villanova matches up well against teams like Purdue and Texas Tech. As successful as their regular season was, Jay Wright only truly cares about what’s about to happen next. The Wildcats have the easiest road to the Final Four of any 1 seed. Combine that with championship experience for a number of their core players and they get the nod at 1.
2. Virginia (1)
31-2
Despite having no surefire NBA player on the roster, Virginia is the best team in the country. One of the best ACC regular seasons was followed by an ACC Tournament Championship. Virginia has the best defense in the country to go along with one of the most efficient offenses. The road to Championship won’t be easy for the Cavaliers, but they’ve proven time and time again that they aren’t afraid of elite opponents and always seem to force the opposition to play their game. Virginia is a strong candidate to run the gauntlet and cut down the nets on April 2nd.
3. Michigan St. (4)
29-4
Michigan State is just ahead of Duke in our odds to make it out of the Midwest. If the Spartans edge out Duke in the Sweet 16, I also believe they will be able to overwhelm Kansas. Michigan State has one of the best shooters in the country, one of the best players in the country, and arguably the best tournament coach in the country. The Spartans were the most disrespected team on Selection Sunday, a preseason #2 overall team that hasn’t done much to take away from that gets a 3 seed? Apparently Cinco de Mayo came early for the selection committee.
4. Duke (2)
26-7
The Midwest is loaded with talent and I think Duke has a great chance to emerge through it all. Michigan State would be a great matchup in the Sweet 16, but Duke has already proven they can beat the Spartans this year. They would be rewarded with a Kansas team, that even with their lack of size, have been able to win games. However, Duke has two of the best big men in the country and matches up extremely well against the Jayhawks. The Blue Devils have had their ups and downs this year and to be honest, Coach K seems to be underachieving given his talented roster. Five first round picks on a college team should spell out more success than Duke has had. Coach K will look for a formula for success and could very well get his 6th ring.
5. Kansas (10)
27-7
The third and final team with a chance to emerge from the Midwest, Kansas has the easiest road to the Elite Eight in the Midwest, but their lack of frontcourt depth could prove costly against either MSU or Duke. Relying on their 3 point shooting, if the Jayhawks make it past those two teams, they have a great shot at winning it all. Bill Self is one of the elite coaches in the nation with a history of March success. You can never rule out Kansas, and this year is no different.
6. Arizona (16)
27-7
One of the most dangerous teams in the field is Arizona. Amidst all the controversy off the court, the Wildcats have been handling business on the court. DeAndre Ayton has been on an absolute tear and has solidified himself as the top pick in the draft, but also possibly the most impactful player on the college level. Arizona has one of the elite trios in college basketball and is probably the most dangerous 4 seed in recent memory. Could a championship this year be stripped from Arizona down the line? Possibly. But just like 2013 Louisville, we would know who the true champions are.
7. Gonzaga (3)
30-4
Gonzaga is the prime contender to beat Xavier and make a push past UNC and Michigan. They are a deep and talented team with elite coaching and playmakers, and have players with championship game experience. The Zags are another disrespected team in their seeding along with Arizona and Michigan State and should prove to everybody that Mid-Majors should not be taken lightly once again.
8. Xavier (7)
28-5
The weakest 1 seed in the tournament is Xavier, and really, it’s not even close. Some people are even calling for the first ever 16 over 1 seed win, and Xavier is coming off of a loss to Providence. There’s so much negativity surrounding the Xavier program that the Musketeers are playing with house money. Xavier will have to go through Gonzaga and Michigan or UNC which I don’t know if they’re capable of doing. I’ve been low on Xavier all year, but the beauty of March is that they have their chance to prove everyone wrong.
9. North Carolina (14)
25-10
North Carolina is the beneficiary in being, in my opinion, in the weakest region of the bracket. In beating Duke in the ACC tourney, they served notice that they're a formidable foe for anyone. Xavier is the weakest 1 seed, Gonzaga hasn’t faced the toughest opponents, and Michigan might have peaked in the Big 10 tourney. The UNC roster has shooters, playmakers, and great coaching which spells out a possible repeat championship, especially considering their opponents on the way there.
10. Michigan (6)
28-7
One of the hottest teams in the country right now is Michigan. Coming off of a Big 10 championship in where they beat both Purdue and Michigan State, the Wolverines are a lot of people’s Final Four sleeper pick. My one worry for Michigan is that they have to roll through North Carolina in the Sweet 16 to get to the Final Four, a team that they’ve lost to already this season. Even if they pull that off, Virginia will be waiting for them in the Final Four. Michigan has proven they can hang with anyone, but the road to the final four might be a little too tough for them to conquer.
11. Purdue (8)
28-6
One of the best teams in the country seem to have fallen off as of late, however, I still think they have a good chance of reaching the Final Four or even going further. They should be able to handle Texas Tech and should put up a good fight against Villanova. Purdue has a fantastic roster, elite guard play, multiple 7-footers, and all-around depth. Purdue is one of those teams that just seem fit to play in March. The Boilermakers were ranked in the Top 3 for a good portion of the season and for good reason. They’re a great team that could very well make a run at the championship.
12. Cincinnati (9)
30-4
Cincinnati has been a tough team for me to get a feel on all year. They have the second-best defense in the country behind Virginia, an effective offense, but they haven’t faced many quality opponents. For all I know, the Bearcats could be the real deal and take down Virginia in the Elite Eight, but they just haven’t been able to prove it to me yet. Nobody can say Cincy isn't legitimate, but questions have been raised about their ability to beat other elite teams.
13. Texas Tech (12)
24-9
Texas Tech has to roll through Florida, Purdue, and Villanova just to make the Final Four. The Red Raiders had an amazing beginning to the season but slowly fell apart towards the season’s end. Keenan Evans is an offensive juggernaut but I don’t see the surrounding cast necessary to really make a push past some of these other teams.
14. West Virginia (15)
24-10
West Virginia finds themselves in the dreaded 5-12 matchup against Murray State. I believe that WVU is the safest of all the 5 seeds and honestly, could give Villanova some struggles. It’s unlikely they make it past Nova, but if they do, they could give many teams issues due to their intense defense. They were ranked #2 in the nation at one point for a reason, this team is capable of beating anybody on any given night.
15. Tennessee (11)
25-8
Tennessee got stuck with two of the most efficient teams in the country in Virginia and Cincinnati and then an Arizona team. The road is just too tough for Tennessee, but if Texas happens to upset Cinci and they pull a miraculous win against Virginia who knows, anything could happen.
16. Ohio State (NR)
24-8
Ohio State is the lowest ranked team on this list. They are in the bracket with Xavier and could easily beat them. They could also beat UNC or Michigan on the back of Keita Bates Diop. It’s not at all likely that they are able to run the gauntlet, but they are one sleeper team that have the potential to string together enough good games to make it happen.

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