Bracketology: Power Ranking Teams in Contention for No. 1 Seeds
The 2013 NCAA tournament is rapidly approaching, and the No. 1 seeds are far from set.
There has been an astonishing amount of movement near the top of the college basketball polls. It is rare for more than a few days to pass without a top-rated team being upset.
While no team has made it out of the regular season unscathed, there are still clear contenders for the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament.
Here are my power rankings for the eight teams who are currently projected to be a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi’s latest predictions.
1. Indiana (25-4)
The Hoosiers may no longer be the top-ranked team in the country, but there is still no squad with better pieces for a championship run. Cody Zeller is a dominant scorer in the frontcourt while Victor Oladipo is a fiery leader and a defensive ace in the backcourt.
The team has no shortage of shooters with players like Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. Tom Crean has a tough, disciplined team and the best shot to emerge from the wide-open field and win a national title.
2. Duke (25-4)
There was plenty of talk about the Blue Devils becoming a different team once injured forward Ryan Kelly returned to the floor, and it turned out to be completely true. He delivered a monster 36-point performance in his first game back to lead a victory over Miami, then put up 18 points as Duke dismantled Virginia Tech.
Kelly’s passing and outside shooting make him a perfect frontcourt partner for Mason Plumlee, who excels on the low block. With these two seniors and fellow fourth-year Seth Curry leading the charge, the Blue Devils will be a serious force in March.
3. Gonzaga (29-2)
While Duke certainly boasts an impressive frontcourt, Gonzaga will happily stack up its two big men against any team in the nation. Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris have been fantastic this season and have carried the Bulldogs to the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history.
This is a fantastic basketball team, but questions will remain over its ability to take on the top teams in the tournament after playing a soft regular-season schedule.
4. Kansas (25-4)
A three-game skid that included a shocking loss to TCU unearthed serious concerns over the Jayhawks, but the team followed that with its current seven-game winning streak.
Jeff Withey is college basketball’s premier shot-blocker, and his defensive presence will ensure that Kansas will be tough to beat in the tournament. If Ben McLemore heats up later this month, watch out for the Jayhawks.
5. Miami (23-5)
Duke’s first game with Ryan Kelly back in the lineup was truly impressive, but lost in the excitement was the fact that Miami very nearly won the contest.
Point guard Shane Larkin has complete command of the Hurricanes offense and plenty of talent to work with. Miami is superb defensive team and legitimate threat to win a national title, but the team still must prove that it is ready to compete with the blue bloods.
6. Georgetown (23-4)
If a dominant scorer can find a rhythm in the tournament, his team has a massive advantage over the competition. Georgetown certainly has a top-level offensive talent in Otto Porter.
Now, the team must focus on bouncing back from an upset loss to Villanova and finding a way to peak right before March Madness.
Who is the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament?
7. Louisville (24-5)
Rick Pitino’s teams should never be slept on, and this Louisville squad has the talent to reach the Final Four for the second consecutive year. But it also suffered a three-game losing streak earlier this year and has questions to answer.
Still, the Cardinals’ backcourt duo of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith can push the tempo and put up points, and like all Pitino teams, Louisville plays insanely tough defense. These are a qualities that will make them dangerous in March.
8. Michigan (24-5)
The Wolverines may be the most exciting team in the country to watch. With explosive athletes like Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, Michigan has certainly produced plenty of highlights this season.
But defense has been a concern and the Wolverines also lack the ability to score inside on a consistent basis. That, in combination with the team’s youth, gives Michigan more concerns than any of the other teams contending for a No. 1 seed.
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