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NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Wed, 03/21/2018 - 9:09pm

As just 16 teams remain in the NCAA Tournament, it’s time to see how they stack up against one other. This tournament has been filled with surprises and virtually every bracket is busted. Every region looks a little different, some went almost straight chalk, some are missing all their top seeds, and some are somewhere in the middle. In what has been a historic tournament, 16 teams remain and here’s how they rank.

Rank (Last week's rank)
Record
Comment
1. Villanova (1)
32-4
Villanova was at the top of the power rankings all year long and they continue as the top seed here. The Wildcats got to the Sweet 16 fairly easily on the back of their three-point shooting. Just under half of their field goal attempts have been behind the arc and they’ve knocked them down at a 40% clip, raining in 31 threes through two games. Jay Wright seems to find a way around the fact that his team doesn’t get to the free throw line or have much of an inside presence. Through their defense and three-point shooting, Villanova has looked like the best team in the tournament and has shown no signs of slowing down.
2. Duke (4)
28-7
The Blue Devils have looked nearly unstoppable. They’ve dropped 89 and 87 points on Iona and Rhode Island and are shooting the deep ball at a 45% rate. Marvin Bagley has been a monster so far and will be franchise player for an NBA franchise. Along with Bagley, Wendell Carter helps form what is probably the most talented frontcourt in the NCAA. Duke’s zone defense has the potential to be the reason for their downfall but it’s been solid for them thus far. The Blue Devils have run teams off the perimeter and forced them into the paint where they have the size advantage over almost everyone. Coach K might get another national championship this year.
3. West Virginia (14)
26-10
Bob Huggins’ press defense has worked wonders for the Mountaineers up this point. Although they’ve played two mid-major schools, their defense has been unbelievable and has locked down the best player on each team. West Virginia has also been on an offensive tear. They’ve put up over 89 points per game and haven’t even seemed to break a sweat in either of their wins. Jevon Carter has been on an absolute tear as of late and has turned into one of the best players remaining in the field. WVU has a tough road from here on out and it’ll be fun to see how they fare.
4. Kansas (5)
29-7
Although Mitch Lightfoot hasn’t had the best tournament and Udoka Azubuike still isn’t 100%, Kansas has been able to overcome their lack of big men and continue pushing towards the Final Four. They’ve had to rely more and more on the deep ball but that may have actually helped the Jayhawks. Devonte Graham, Sviatoslav Mykailiuk, and Malik Newman all shoot over 40% from three, while Lagerald Vick shoots just under 38%. The defense has been iffy, but the offense has powered them through. It will be interesting to see if that formula continues to work.
5. Texas A&M (NR)
22-12
The Aggies had one of the most memorable games of the tournament in a clobbering of UNC. Texas A&M has all five starters average double-digit points per game but really thrives in the paint. Robert Williams is the more athletic and better NBA prospect, but Tyler Davis is the anchor of this Aggies team. The defensive efforts of this team are sometimes overshadowed but they’ve been a very solid defensive team through opening weekend. A&M will need to live in the paint and feed off of their bigs if they want to keep pushing in this tournament.
6. Kentucky (NR)
26-10
Kentucky has done everything people said they couldn’t to make it deep into the tournament. They’ve grown up and gained experience and in doing so have limited their mistakes while dictating the pace of each game. Kentucky works hard for their shots and doesn’t settle for threes. They slash and get to the foul line while defending fairly well. Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous Alexander have been the go to guys on offense and have impressed immensely, especially Gilgeous-Alexander. The Wildcats have debatably the easiest ride to the Final Four as the top four seeds are all eliminated from their region. Coach Calipari has gotten his Wildcats on point just in time for the tournament once again.
7. Texas Tech (13)
26-9
Texas Tech gets a lot of their defensive milestones overlooked, but they are statistically one of the best defenses in the country. The depth of the roster allows them to have fresh feet on the court at all times. The Red Raiders have handled business up to this point and despite a three-point win over Florida, Texas Tech seemed to be playing better basketball all game long. In a bracket with almost no significant upsets, Texas Tech squares off with Purdue in what should be a game that comes down to the wire.
8. Clemson (NR)
25-9
Clemson routed Auburn in a game that everyone thought it would be close. Clemson’s shooting performances have been hit or miss and need their defense to carry the weight of a victory. Clemson blocks a lot of shots and alters the ones they can’t get a hand on. A game against Kansas should tell us if the Tigers are the real deal but we’ve seen what they’re capable of when they’re hot.
9. Gonzaga (7)
32-4
Gonzaga plays smart basketball, a la San Antonio Spurs, but sometimes things go wrong, which they have. Gonzaga barely got past UNC Greensboro after being outrebounded and needed Zach Norvell to make a heroic shot just to get by the opening round. The Zags did look better against Ohio State but got lit up from deep on defense. Gonzaga has many different players that can lead the team in scoring but Jonathan Williams will likely be the X-factor in how far Gonzaga go. If Gonzaga can get better on the defensive boards they should be able to play a much better brand of basketball.
10. Purdue (11)
30-6
After a tragic loss of Isaac Haas, Purdue’s odds of winning the title dropped traumatically. Carsen Edwards and Vincent Edwards have needed to step up even more to fill the void but neither have been consistent in both games. Three-point shooting will need to stay hot if Purdue wants to win it all due to their loss in the middle. The Boilermakers have been finding ways to win, but it’s usually not a good thing when Matt Haarms hair is the most talked about thing for the team.
11. Nevada (NR)
29-7
Despite trailing by 14 points to Texas and 22 points to Cincinnati in the second half, Nevada has found a way to crawl back and emerge victorious. Nevada has done the impossible by coming back from so much so late in the game that it was actually 6 times less likely than UMBC’s win over Virginia. Statistically speaking anyway. Nevada has the best turnover ratio in the country which helped them tremendously in their late game comebacks. Foul trouble will be an issue for the Wolfpack since they aren’t the deepest roster, but the Martin twins have had their magical moments and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
12. Michigan (10)
30-7
Michigan’s star player Moritz Wagner has been missing offensively through two games for the Wolverines. They needed a prayer answered in order to make it this far and if their offense stays as cold as it has, they won’t make it much further. On the flip side, their defense has been solid enough to hold off their poor shooting. If Michigan gets hot and keeps playing the same caliber of defense, this could be a scary team to face.
13. Loyola-Chicago (NR)
30-5
Although Loyola-Chicago has two wins by a combined three points, they really have looked like the better team in both games against Miami and Tennessee. The Ramblers pride themselves on shot selection which contributes to their high field goal percentage which is what keeps them in games against every opponent they face. They will need shots to continue falling as they are the smallest team remaining in the field and could easily get abused in the post. Loyola-Chicago needs to keep playing within themselves and prevent themselves from speeding up gameplay too much and this Cinderella Story could have a few more chapters.
14. Florida State (NR)
22-11
I don’t know if I’ve seen a team that has played as horrible and fantastic in one game than FSU has. The Seminoles had a 22-point lead over Missouri and almost found a way to blow it, then they were horrible for the majority of the Xavier game before turning on the jets and mounting a 25-9 run to win. If Florida State can take a 8-10 minute stretch and play an entire game that way, they probably would beat any team in the field, but unfortunately, FSU is too inconsistent to make it much further.
15. Syracuse (NR)
23-13
Syracuse’s offense is straight up horrific. They rank 323rd in three-point shooting and 309th on attempts inside the arc. Jim Boeheim’s zone defense has been fantastic and has been able to offset the offensive struggles. Syracuse has good size and if they ever decide to put the ball in the bucket they could be as dominant of a team as there is. They have beaten ASU, TCU, and MSU, which are three quality wins but something just seems off about this team and I’m not sure if they can make it to the Elite Eight.
16. Kansas State (NR)
24-11
Kansas State is missing Dean Wade and therefore has lost a quality big man in which KState was already lacking. The Wildcats have been jumping passing lanes and forcing turnovers which is one of the main reasons they’re still alive in the tournament. That being said, Kansas State is coming off the single ugliest game of the tournament in a 50-43 win over UMBC. Barry Brown is far and away the best offensive weapon now that Wade is gone and he will need to be at his absolute best in order for this struggling Kansas State team to keep moving on. This team hasn’t beaten many quality opponents and are winless against teams that made the tourney as a top five seed. If there was ever a time to change that, a game against Kentucky would be it.
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