Power Ranking the Remaining 32 Teams in NCAA Tournament
Remember that brackets are recyclable.
Most are ready for the waste after a crazy first two days of the 2013 NCAA tournament. Georgetown, a team that some argued should have been ranked No. 1 at one point this season, is gone. New Mexico, a team some argued should be a No. 1 seed, has been eliminated. Kansas and Gonzaga flirted with some unwanted history and survived.
Welcome to the madness.
As we enter the weekend, it's time to reassess the power structure and figure out who belongs where. A redo on the predictions is also in order.
Just consider these rankings a second draft.
32. Harvard (No. 14 West)
Best Asset: Smarts.
Not to be clever here, but this really is the best asset for the Crimson. A good strategy that was extremely well-executed was what led to the win over New Mexico.
Harvard milked the clock, was able to spread the floor and got the ball to its shooters late in the shot clock. It wasn't an accident that Harvard shot the ball well. The Crimson came in shooting 40.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Reason to Worry: Arizona will have more size, more quickness and likely a better scouting report than New Mexico. It would be shocking to see the 'Cats not try to run Harvard's shooters off the three-point line.
Predicted Finish: The smart kids can't pull it off again, can they? They don't really need to change anything against Arizona. Defending for the entire shot clock and then watching a jumper go in is tough to stomach. It's hard to believe what happened really happened, so the logical pick is to go with Arizona.
31. Florida Gulf Coast (No. 15 South)
Best Asset: In their last two games, the high-flying Eagles scored 88 points against Mercer and 78 against Georgetown—both defenses rank in the top 21 in scoring defense.
If that Mercer result doesn't mean anything to you, well, the fact that Mercer just beat Tennessee in the NIT might change your tune.
The Eagles play fast and have been able to force their tempo on two straight pace-plodders.
Reason to Worry: A No. 15 seed has never advanced past the round of 32.
Predicted Finish: A low seed (Harvard) has already beaten one of the Mountain West's bests (New Mexico). The Eagles will beat San Diego State and become the first No. 15 seed to make the Sweet 16.
30. La Salle (No. 13 West)
Best Asset: Remember how we used to talk about the power-conference schools as being "battle-tested?"
Well, the round of 64 told us we probably should abandon that theme. That is, unless you're talking the Atlantic 10.
La Salle might be the best example. A team that went 11-5 in the A-10 beat Kansas State, the Big 12 co-champs, on what was essentially its home floor.
Reason to Worry: La Salle was a poor rebounding team this season. Ole Miss wasn't great on the boards either. But when the Rebels are motivated, their big men have the ability to control the glass.
Predicted Finish: Tough to bet against the A-10, but something about Marshall Henderson and the Ole Miss Rebels tells me they're going to be around for at least one more round. Maybe it's wishful thinking, so we can get more chances for Henderson to say something crazy.
29. Memphis (No. 6 Midwest)
Best Asset: Memphis and Saint Mary's played a game that was hard on the eyes.
The offense could not have been to Josh Pastner's liking, but his team's defense shut down one of the most efficient offenses in the country this year.
The Tigers blocked 12 shots, including eight from D.J. Stephens, and held Saint Mary's star Matthew Dellavedova to 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting.
Reason to Worry: Michigan State doesn't mind playing a muddy game and has the athletes to run with Memphis.
Predicted Finish: Pastner got his first win in the NCAA tournament, so he has that monkey off his back. The Tigers are not used to playing a team that can match their athleticism, and their season will end on Saturday.
28. California (No. 12 East)
Best Asset: The Cal guards.
What gives Cal a chance against Syracuse is Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, as both have the ability to penetrate Syracuse's zone.
Crabbe, who scored 19 points in the win over UNLV in the first round, is one of the best players in the country but doesn't get a ton of love because he's on the West Coast. The Bears will need to get him shots to win on Saturday.
Reason to Worry: Cal is not a strong shooting team from deep (30.8 percent), which is not a good recipe against Syracuse's zone.
Predicted Finish: The Bears will come close, but they don't have enough shooting to thrive against Syracuse's zone.
27. Ole Miss (No. 12 West)
Best Asset: Marshall Henderson will steal all the headlines, but the Rebels are a threat because of Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner. The Ole Miss inside players were too physical for Wisconsin, and few teams in the country can match their physicality.
Reason to Worry: Henderson's insistence on taking every shot he possibly can limited the touches Holloway and Buckner could get on Friday. Kansas State also had an inside advantage against La Salle but didn't get the ball in the paint enough. Henderson needs to give his big men that chance.
Predicted Finish: Marshall Mania will continue on to the Sweet 16, where Ole Miss will fall to Gonzaga.
26. Minnesota (No. 11 South)
Best Asset: Talent.
The Minnesota roster is not that of a No. 11 seed. UCLA can attest to that. And so can Indiana and Michigan State. The Gophers entered the tournament on a three-game losing streak, but it was hard to fathom that with the beatdown they put on UCLA.
Reason to Worry: Seeing Minnesota play well isn't all that unfamiliar. Seeing Minnesota be consistent would be.
Predicted Finish: The Gophers can match up with Florida, but it hasn't been smart to bet on the unpredictable Gophers all season. I'm not starting now.
25. Temple (No. 9 East)
Best Asset: Meet Khalif Wyatt.
He is 21 going on 37. He'll rock you to sleep with his dribble. He rises about an inch or two to shoot his jumper. He works angles. He plays so much like an old guy that he should wear knee pads. And he is one of the best scorers in college basketball.
Wyatt dropped 31 points on N.C. State in the round of 64 and did it with a hurt left hand.
Reason to Worry: Wyatt's hand. He told the AP it was sore. Luckily for Temple, it's his non-shooting hand.
Predicted Finish: The Owls will not be intimidated by Indiana's talent, and Wyatt will be the best scorer on the court. But Wyatt doesn't have enough help to beat the Hoosiers.
24. San Diego State (No. 7 South)
Best Asset: Some know Jamaal Franklin as the guy who threw the alley-oop to himself.
You should also know Franklin as one of the best players, if not the best, in the Mountain West.
Franklin put 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists on Oklahoma on Saturday night. The Aztecs rolled in that game and now have a date with history.
Reason to Worry: Florida Gulf Coast now has wins against two No. 2 seeds. The Eagles are not just a team that got hot and won a miracle game. They were unquestionably the better team at least for one night against Georgetown.
Predicted Finish: A No. 15 seed has never gotten past the round of 32, but it just feels like it's bound to happen on Sunday.
23. Oregon (No. 12 Midwest)
Best Asset: Health.
Oregon appears back at full strength after witnessing how point guard Dominic Artis played on Thursday.
Artis was going up against one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the country in Oklahoma State, and he outshined OSU star Marcus Smart by finishing with 13 points and four steals in only 17 minutes.
Reason to Worry: The Atlantic 10 is undefeated in the tourney. Saint Louis was the class of that league.
Predicted Finish: Saint Louis is a much more disciplined team that will be able to hang with the Ducks on the boards, which Oklahoma State could not. The Billikens will win a close one on Saturday.
22. Illinois (No. 7 East)
Best Asset: Coach John Groce.
The coach is now 4-2 in the NCAA tournament after going 3-2 in two tourney appearances with Ohio. Groce is a high-energy coach, and players feed off that this time of the season.
The Illini hardly played well against Colorado, but with Groce and a scorer like Brandon Paul, the Illini have a chance against Miami.
Reason to Worry: The Illini made only 8-of-31 threes against CU. They have been too reliant on the three all season. In some ways, that can make them scary in one game.
Predicted Finish: The 'Canes won a game almost a week ago when North Carolina was hot from three. In other words, even if the Illini are hot, they could still lose...and they will.
21. Butler (No. 6 East)
Best Asset: The Bulldogs don't flinch.
Butler trailed by six with 10:15 left and calmly came back to outscore Bucknell 36-19 in the final 10 minutes.
What's most impressive in watching all of Brad Stevens' teams is how calm and collected they are in close games. The Bulldogs are not the most talented team in the tourney. But in a close game, expect them to execute and not be overwhelmed by the moment.
Reason to Worry: Rotnei Clarke beat Marquette with a buzzer-beater in November in Maui. The NCAA tournament is obviously a big motivating factor, but the Golden Eagles will be even more determined after losing that way in Maui.
Predicted Finish: The Golden Eagles showed against Davidson on Thursday that they have some Butler in them. Marquette also won the Big East by taking care of business against less talented teams. These teams are close to even, but Marquette has a slight advantage and will move on.
20. Wichita State (No. 9 West)
Best Asset: Balance.
The Shockers bring their leading scorer Cleanthony Early off the bench, and coach Gregg Marshall can mix and match his lineups depending on the matchup.
Early scored 21 points against Pitt and is a streaky scorer. Several guards have gone off on Gonzaga this year. So if Early stays hot, the Shockers definitely have a chance.
Reason to Worry: Gonzaga should come out motivated after a narrow win over Southern that had many questioning whether the Zags are legit.
Predicted Finish: The Zags have the talent advantage and something to prove. The Shockers will give them a game, but Gonzaga will win.
19. Creighton (No. 7 Midwest)
Best Asset: Doug McDermott.
The tournament's best scorer did his thing with 27 points in the opening-round win over Cincinnati.
The Blue Jays are tough to defend.If you focus too much on McDermott, they have outside shooters who can burn you from three. They made 7-of-15 against the Bearcats and are leading the nation, making 42 percent of their three-point attempts.
Reason to Worry: Creighton will face an offense as good as its for the first time all season on Sunday against Duke.
Predicted Finish: Creighton has not made a Sweet 16 since 1974. Not even McDermott will change that.
18. Colorado State (No. 8 Midwest)
Best Asset: Experience.
Colorado State starts five seniors and they executed their game plan to perfection against Missouri, controlling the glass and the paint.
The Rams grabbed 12 of their 28 misses and limited Mizzou to three offensive rebounds. They also made Phil Pressey a shooter, a strategy that paid off as he shot 7-of-19.
The plan will likely be similar against Louisville, as they will try to force Russ Smith to be a volume shooter from the perimeter.
Reason to Worry: Frank Haith wasn't able to make many adjustments. Rick Pitino has been around the block a few times. It will take close to a perfect game for the Rams to knock off the Cardinals, whose speed will be unlike anything they have faced all year.
Predicted Finish: It was good to see Larry Eustachy get his first win in the NCAA tournament since 2000, but he'll just have to settle for that one win this year.
17. Iowa State (No. 10 West)
Best Asset: If there was one advantage most thought Notre Dame had on Iowa State, it was down low.
Well, the Cyclones (barely) big men quickly put an end to that thought and dominated the interior of the Irish. Freshman Georges Niang scored a game-high 19 points and Melvin Ejim added 17.
The Cyclones also got their usual production from the three-point line, knocking down 9-of-21 shots.
Reason to Worry: Any other No. 2 seed would be on upset alert on Sunday against Iowa State. Ohio State, , however, has the perimeter defense to handle the 'Clones.
Predicted Finish: The Cyclones got a bad draw for the second straight year—last season they had to play Kentucky in the second round—and for the second straight year, they'll keep it a game most of the way but not have enough.
16. North Carolina (No. 8 South)
Best Asset: The Heels have made 24-of-50 threes in their last two games.
Moving P.J. Hairston to the 4 spot in the starting lineup was one of the best in-season moves Roy Williams has made in his career.
Hairston made Williams look smart yet again on Friday, scoring a game-high 23 points in the win over Villanova.
Reason to Worry: Roy Williams is 0-2 against his former employer. and last year's Elite Eight loss against Kansas was not a good look for Williams. Bill Self went to a triangle-and-two for a good chunk of the second half and Williams didn't realize KU had run the defense for more than a possession or two.
Predicted Finish: The Jayhawks should be able to pressure the UNC shooters, because if they get beat off the dribble, they have Jeff Withey playing behind them. UNC's best chance is for James McAdoo to try to get Withey away from the bucket, and that might work. The matchup is a good one for UNC, but reason says bet on Self against Williams until proven otherwise.
15. Marquette (No. 3 East)
Best Asset: Sticking to what works.
Marquette played from behind most of Thursday's game against Davidson. That did not stop the Golden Eagles from sticking to their game plan and using their size and quickness to their advantage.
Big men Chris Otule, Jamil Wilson and Davante Gardner combined for 34 points. And when the Golden Eagles needed a bucket in the final seconds, they put the ball in Vander Blue's hands and let him go to work off the dribble. Blue delivered with the game-winning layup.
Reason to Worry: Butler is similar to Davidson in that Brad Stevens' team executes and will not beat itself. Surprisingly, Davidson did beat itself in the final minute. That is not likely against Butler.
Predicted Finish: Marquette will get payback on Butler and eventually lose in the Sweet 16 to Miami.
14. Arizona (No. 6 West)
Best Asset: Speed and size.
That's what overwhelmed Belmont and will likely do the same on Saturday against Harvard.
The Bruins were a perfect warm-up for the Crimson as both teams like to spread the floor and shoot a lot of threes. Belmont got off plenty of attempts (27) but only made eight.
Tough to see a Harvard having much better luck.
Reason to Worry: Point guard play has been the worry for the Wildcats, as Mark Lyons is more of a combo guard forced to play point. Lyons is at least off to a good start, as he went for 23 points against Belmont. He did, however, have only one assist and two turnovers.
Predicted Finish: The Wildcats will hold off Harvard and ultimately lose to Ohio State.
13. Syracuse (No. 4 East)
Best Asset: Man, when that zone is working, it's really working.
Montana shot a chilly 4-of-31 from three in Syracuse's 81-34 win in the round of 64 on Thursday.
After the run in the Big East tournament and that dominant appearance, it appears Syracuse is back.
Reason to Worry: The Orange rely a lot on their backcourt and it produced against Montana. Brandon Triche had 20, Michael Carter-Williams dished out nine assists and C.J. Fair chipped in 13 points. It's going to be interesting to see how the 'Cuse do when the shots aren't falling.
Predicted Finish: Syracuse will lose to Indiana in the Sweet 16. The Hoosiers can match the Orange on the perimeter, but the Orange can't match the Hoosiers inside.
12. Michigan (No. 4 South)
Best Asset: Balance.
Michigan beat South Dakota State with Trey Burke scoring only six points on 12 shots. That lack of efficiency is not good for the Wolverines, but the fact that he was picked up by Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson is good.
Michigan is better when Burke is more creator than scorer, and definitely better when Hardaway and Robinson are producing.
Reason to Worry: Michigan's defense. That's always been the concern in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines' D may be better than it is perceived, but it's still a concern against a VCU team that can go on a run quickly.
Predicted Finish: Be sure to tune in for VCU-Michigan. It could be the most entertaining game of the round of 32. In the end, VCU's defense will win out.
11. VCU (No. 5 South)
Best Asset: Havoc.
It's tough to say what was the most impressive aspect of VCU's 88-42 dismantling of Akron.
Was it that the Rams forced 22 turnovers? Or that they also held Akron to 34.9 percent shooting? Or maybe it's that they took 24 more shots than Akron?
VCU not only creates extra possessions with the best defense in the country at taking the ball away, Shaka Smart's club rarely gives the ball away either. Recent proof: the Rams had only seven turnovers against Akron.
Reason to Worry: Michigan turns the ball over at the lowest rate in the country. Akron didn't have its point guard. Michigan has Trey Burke.
Predicted Finish: The Wolverines might have the point guard to beat Havoc, but it's tough to prepare for such a defense on short rest. The Rams will beat Michigan, Kansas and Florida on their way to Smart's second Final Four.
10. Saint Louis (No. 4 Midwest)
Best Asset: Did I mention that the Atlantic 10 is the only league that has yet to lose? Oh, I did. Well, let me remind you again.
The A-10 is 5-0 (and 6-0 if you count La Salle's play-in win). And Saint Louis was the class of that league.
The Billikens showed why in a clinic against New Mexico State. Not only do they rarely make mistakes, they also exploit mismatches. New Mexico State played 7-foot-5 mountain Sim Bhullar, and Dwayne Evans took advantage with his quickness, scoring 24 points.
Reason to Worry: Honestly, it's tough to find a reason to worry for the Billikens. They are just so solid and don't beat themselves. A hot Oregon team, however, should give Billikens' fans at least something to worry about.
Predicted Finish: Saint Louis will beat Oregon and give Louisville its toughest game before Atlanta. The Billikens will lose to the Cardinals, but it will be close.
9. Florida (No. 3 South)
Best Asset: Beating the pants off someone.
The Gators got back to what they typically do on Friday night by blowing out Northwestern State.
It was the usual mix of great defense and balance on offense, with four players scoring in double figures.
Reason to Worry: The Gators are still waiting to win a game close. Eventually, someone will give them a game in this tournament.
Predicted Finish: The Gators will roll until the Elite Eight when they meet up with VCU and lose yet another close one.
8. Duke (No. 2 Midwest)
Best Asset: Ryan Kelly had one of the most amazing performances of the season against Miami, and he was certainly missed when he was out with a foot injury.
But the two most valuable players for Duke in this tourney are Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry. Plumlee (23 points) and Curry (26 points) made sure the Blue Devils did not lose to a No. 15 seed two straight years.
Reason to Worry: Albany made 9-of-15 threes against Duke. Creighton is the best three-point shooting team in the country.
Predicted Finish: Duke will survive Doug McDermott. They won't survive Tom Izzo.
7. Michigan State
Best Asset: Tom Izzo.
Michigan State had a clear advantage in the post on Thursday against Valpo and Izzo fed the big fella Derrick Nix, who had 23 points.
Watch out for Sparty if they're able to get a convincing win against Memphis and enter the Sweet 16 with confidence. Izzo has a team talented enough to get to Atlanta, and when that's the case, he usually gets where he wants to go.
Reason to Worry: Valpo did not have the size, strength or athleticism to hang with Michigan State. Memphis does.
Predicted Finish: The Spartans will get to the Elite Eight before falling to Louisville.
6. Miami (No. 2 East)
Best Asset: The Hurricanes lack much NCAA tournament experience, but they make it up for it with experience in general.
An easy 78-49 win over Pacific was a good start for the 'Canes. They dominated with what Jim Larranaga has emphasized this season and that's defense.
Pacific made only 18 of 54 shots. Miami also forced 14 turnovers.
Reason to Worry: The Illini have beaten both Gonzaga and Indiana this season. The 'Canes would obviously like to play a team that doesn't have experience beating two of the top-ranked teams.
Predicted Finish: Miami will survive Illinois and make it to the Elite Eight before losing to Indiana.
5. Kansas (No. 1 South)
Best Asset: Jeff Withey's defense.
It's certainly not the offense. The Jayhawks played nervous and did not hit a three against Western Kentucky.
If there's a reason for Kansas fans not to panic, last year's team made it to the championship game with similar performances by the offense and Withey. The big man controlled the game against Western Kentucky on the defensive end (seven blocks) and also was KU's best offensive player with 17 points.
Reason to Worry: Kansas had 17 turnovers and struggled against WKU's pressure. Shaky ball-handling is nothing new for Kansas and could be an issue, especially if the Jayhawks make it to the Sweet 16 and have to face VCU's "Havoc."
Predicted Finish: Changing my pick here. The Jayhawks will lose to VCU. If WKU's pressure gave them problems, they'll wilt against Havoc.
4. Gonzaga (No. 1 West)
Best Asset: Kelly Olynyk.
The big Candadian saved his team from becoming the first to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Zags fed Olynyk as much as possible against Southern. The rest of his teammate might not have played at their normal level, but he did.
Reason to Worry: The Zags already had many questioning whether they deserved a No. 1 seed. Now that crowd has a reason to pile on. The Zags need to forget about the Southern game and not forget that they were a dominant team all season.
Predicted Finish: Other No. 1 seeds have struggled in the opening round game and pulled it together to go on a run. The Zags still have the talent to do the same. They'll get it together enough to win the next two games and eventually lose to Ohio State in the Elite Eight.
3. Ohio State (No. 2 West)
Best Asset: Perimeter defense.
Iona's Lamont Jones averaged 23 points this season. He scored nine points on 3-of-14 shooting and had four turnovers against Ohio State.
It's no fun to be a guard and go up against Aaron Craft and the Buckeyes. They forced 19 turnovers and held Iona to 6-of-28 shooting from three.
Reason to Worry: Tough to find anything right now with the Buckeyes. They are hot at the right time and have players who have been to a Final Four.
Predicted Finish: Ohio State will knock off Gonzaga in the Elite Eight and make it back to its second straight Final Four.
2. Indiana (No. 1 East)
Best Asset: The best offense in the country looked like the best offense in the country again. And Bo Ryan is no longer in this tournament.
Hoosier fans should rejoice.
They should also rejoice because their scorers were all clicking against James Madison, as five players scored in double figures.
When Indiana is able to get in the open court and avoid a muddy game—or slow-paced opponent like Wisconsin—no offense is better.
Reason to Worry: Temple beat Syracuse and gave Kansas a game at Allen Fieldhouse. The Owls also have a scorer in Khalif Wyatt capable of winning a game almost by himself.
Predicted Finish: The Hoosiers will survive the second round and be poised to go on a run. They'll end up losing in the national championship game.
1. Louisville (No. 1 Midwest)
Best Asset: That defense.
The Cardinals opened the tournament by forcing 27 turnovers and holding North Carolina A&T to 48 points.
It was the sixth time this season that Louisville has forced 24 or more giveaways. Russ Smith had eight steals by himself and also shot an un-Russdiculous-like 10-of-16 from the field.
Reason to Worry: Colorado State has experience and rarely turns the ball over. CSU is also the best rebounding team in the country. The Rams will not be a pushover like A&T.
Predicted Finish: The Cardinals came into the tournament as the top overall seed and favorite to win the national title. They didn't do anything to ruin that in the round of 64.
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