March Madness 2013: Power Ranking No. 1 Seeds' Chances at Title
Even in a college basketball season as unpredictable as this one, it's always a good idea to start the evaluation of teams that have the potential to be crowned the kings of March Madness with the No. 1 seeds.
Unlike last year, when Kentucky rolled in as an overwhelming favorite, there is no single dominant team.
Last year, Bovada had Kentucky as a 5/2 favorite. This year, No. 1 overall seed, Louisville enters as a 9/2 favorite (current odds according to Vegas Insider on March 19). No. 1 seed Indiana is next at 8/1.
No. 1 Kansas checks in with the sixth-lowest odds at 10/1, and Gonzaga follows them at 12/1.
My power ranking differs from those odds.
No. 4: Kansas
Kansas is talented and overflowing with tournament experience. However, this is still not a complete team and that will doom it.
The Jayhawks have suffered through some inconsistent point-guard play, and they can get sloppy with their passing. Yes, Kansas is 16th in the nation in assists at 15.6, but it is also 210th in the nation with 13.7 turnovers.
That turnover-prone offense is likely going to have to go against the speedy Tar Heels, who are 51st in the nation in steals, in the round of 32. Then a likely date with Shaka Smart's fifth-seeded VCU squad in the Sweet 16, and the Rams lead the nation in steals with a pressure defense that will be too much for Kansas to handle.
I don't think the Jayhawks will make the Elite 8, and I certainly don't see them running the table.
No. 3: Indiana
The Hoosiers are well-rounded and talented. Cody Zeller is one of the best scorers in the country, and the shooters around him make it difficult for any team to pay extra attention to him.
The Hoosiers finished second in the nation in three-point percentage, and even if they do miss, they are fifth in the nation in offensive rebounding. They are also full of tournament experience.
However, I put them third due to some serious concerns.
For starters, the Hoosiers lost just two games out of their first 22, and then lost five of their last 11. That included losing three of their last six. Those three losses came to tournament-bound teams, but two of them were home losses (to Ohio State and Wisconsin) by a combined 21 points.
My other big concern is freshman point guard Kevin Ferrell. It is tough task for a freshman point guard to withstand an entire tournament run.
Indiana will be tested in the round of 32 by North Carolina State, and the Hoosiers will have a difficult time should they meat the Miami Hurricanes in the Elite 8.
I don't see this talented team finding the consistency needed to reach the Final Four.
No. 2: Gonzaga
Given their lack of elite competition this year, the Gonzaga Bulldogs are easy to write off.
While this is true, and a very real concern, it doesn't mean the Zags don't have what it takes to win this tournament.
The Bulldogs can score against anyone. They were 13th in the nation in points, and sixth in effective field-goal percentage.
While their light schedule certainly plays into all stats as it does their 34-2 record, in sites that adjust for opponents, the Bulldogs still rate out excellent. In overall team rankings, they are fourth at Kenpom and sixth in RPI.
The Bulldogs also have a legitimate star to carry them, Kelly Olynyk. The seven-footer is putting up 17.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He also is the nation's leader in player efficiency rating at 37.2
Other than second-seeded Ohio State, there is not a lot for the Zags to fear in this region.
No. 3 seed New Mexico looks strong, but it is even more untested than the Zags, as it has yet to register a win over any team that is a top-four seed in this tournament.
Meanwhile, the Zags beat No. 4 seed Kansas State by 16. I have no problem seeing the Zags run the table.
No. 1: Louisville
The Cardinals enter this tournament having won 10 straight, and they used a suffocating defense to pull it off.
This team can comfortably go nine deep, and it is nearly impossible for their opponent to match their intensity for an entire game.
Louisville does not boast the most efficient offense, but it gets easy buckets from its defense, and Russ Smith can score with the best of them.
The other thing that makes Louisville the legitimate favorite is senior point guard Peyton Siva. Coming off his second consecutive Big East Tournament MVP honors, he is ready to take his team to the top.
If the Cardinals play their game, they will not be beat.
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