March Madness 2011 Predictions: Power Ranking the Sweet 16 Teams
The Sweet 16 field is set.
There have been many upsets so far, with Pittsburgh and Louisville being knocked out.
Some surprise teams are still dancing, including Richmond and Butler.
The Sweet 16 round is when the great teams start to separate from each other. Are Butler and Richmond for real?
We will find out when they face two of the best teams in the country.
Speaking of the best teams: Which ones are currently the best teams in the country?
Here is a ranking of the 16 teams left in the tournament.
16. Richmond Spiders
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With wins over Vanderbilt and Morehead State, Richmond has now won nine straight.
Justin Harper and Kevin Anderson have led the Cinderella Spiders into the Sweet 16.
Richmond is now just one win away from its first-ever 30-win season.
The Spiders now have to face Kansas in order to keep their Cinderella run going.
If they do upset the Jayhawks, Richmond could very possibly get to the Final Four.
15. Marquette Golden Eagles
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In another third-round matchup of Big East teams, Marquette prevailed over the favored Syracuse Orange.
Darius Johnson-Odom led the team with 17 points, including the go-ahead three-pointer with less than a minute left.
Marquette now advances to play UNC for the chance to go to the Elite Eight.
Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler form one of the best scoring duos in the country.
After 11 Big East teams made the tournament, only UConn and Marquette remain.
14. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
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Another Cinderella team still dancing is VCU.
VCU has now won an impressive three games in the first three rounds of the tournament, with wins over USC, Georgetown and Purdue.
VCU stumbled down the stretch, finishing 3-5 in the final eight games before the NCAA tournament.
Those game are easily forgotten now. They are playing great team ball.
Bradford Burgess and Jamie Skeen form a great one-two punch.
13. Florida State Seminoles
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Florida State is showing why it deserved to be selected as an at-large bid by the NCAA.
Another low-seeded team has made the Big East look weak.
With a double-digit win over Notre Dame, the Seminoles round out the Cinderella teams still in play.
FSU has one of the most balanced attacks of the teams left in the tournament.
The starting five averages anywhere from seven points to 13 points per game.
The Seminoles have depth as well, using a rotation that includes 11 players.
12. Arizona Wildcats
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Arizona gets to the Sweet 16 after edging out a tough Texas team.
Two potential top-five NBA picks squared off in an instant classic.
Derrick Williams and Jordan Hamilton did not disappoint, scoring 17 and 18 points respectively.
The Wildcats will go on to face Duke in the next round.
In order for Arizona to get by Duke, someone other than Williams will need to step up against the Blue Devils.
11. Butler Bulldogs
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Butler has played back-to-back games that have come down to the last shot and the final seconds.
Matt Howard has had a hand in both of the wins. He had the game-winning put-back against Old Dominion and he hit the game-winning free throws against No. 1-seeded Pittsburgh.
I think Butler was underrated coming into this year's tournament.
The Bulldogs were runners-up in last year's championship and had a last-second prayer go in and out of the hoops.
Some people perhaps forget that Butler still has Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard on the team.
Butler will now square off against Wisconsin, which had an impressive win over Kansas State.
10. Brigham Young University Cougars
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Jimmer Fredette has 66 points through the first two NCAA tournament games.
With the departure of Brandon Davies from the team, BYU was expected to struggle against better competition.
BYU has had a generous draw so far, beating Wofford and the No. 11-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs.
Now the Cougars will be pinned up against the best team they have faced all year.
The Florida Gators will provide BYU with a tough test.
Jackson Emery or another BYU player is going to have to step up in order for them to compete with Florida.
9. Wisconsin Badgers
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Wisconsin enters the Sweet 16 with an impressive win over a good Kansas State team.
The Badgers were able to hold off a career performance put on by Jacob Pullen.
The most impressive stat in this game, though, might be the line of guard Jordan Taylor.
Taylor, the team's captain and second-leading scorer, was held to just 12 points on 2-of-16 shooting.
This game proved that Wisconsin is not just about Taylor and Jon Leuer.
The Badgers have a lot more depth than people give them credit for. They played through foul trouble the entire game.
8. San Diego State Aztecs
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After a tough double-overtime battle with Temple in the second round, it does not get any easier for the Aztecs as they enter the Sweet 16.
San Diego State will be matched up against one of the hottest teams and one of the best players in the country.
Kemba Walker and UConn will provide the Aztecs with their toughest test of the season.
SDSU has enough size in the frontcourt to compete with the Huskies.
The big question is: With whom and how will they be able to contain Kemba Walker?
7. Kentucky Wildcats
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Since February 26th, the Kentucky Wildcats have gone on an impressive streak. They are on an eight-game win streak that includes wins over West Virginia, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Florida twice.
Freshman Brandon Knight is turning into a star before our eyes in this year's tournament.
After a game-winning shot in the first round, Knight led the Wildcats with 30 points in an eight-point win over No. 5 West Virginia in the second round.
Knight and Josh Harrellson lead the Wildcats into the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
Interestingly enough, Kentucky lost to WVU in last year's Elite Eight.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
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After a slow start, North Carolina has been on an absolute tear.
In their last 18 games, UNC is 16-2. Both those losses came at the hands of Duke.
UNC has shown improvement throughout the whole year, both as a team and as individual players.
One player who has greatly improved is freshman Harrison Barnes.
Barnes averaged 11.7 points per game to start the season out of conference play.
Since conference play started, he is averaging 18.3 points per night.
His improvement, along with the improvement of all the underclassmen, has UNC as a favorite out of the East bracket.
5. Florida Gators
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The young Gators are led by senior Chandler Parsons.
Florida has a balanced offensive attack with four players averaging more than 11 points per game. All five starters from last year returned in 2011.
Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton make up one of the best scoring and overall backcourts in the nation.
Coach Billy Donovan has done a lot with this team. Florida does not have one go-to guy, but the way he gets his players to play hard, they do not need that one pivotal player.
4. Connecticut Huskies
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You may not find a hotter team than UConn right now.
After ripping off five wins in five days to claim the Big East championship, UConn has made their first two games of the tournament look easy.
It is tough to imagine that this team went through a tough mid-season stretch when it went 4-7. The Huskies did not even secure a bye in the Big East tournament.
Kemba Walker's 51 points through two games puts him as one of the scoring leaders through Round 3.
Freshman Jeremy Lamb has also stepped up in the postseason for the Huskies. In all seven postseason games, Lamb has reached double digits in points.
3. Duke Blue Devils
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Duke advances to the Sweet 16 for the 12th time in 14 years.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski also earned his 900th career win in the third-round win over Michigan.
Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler lead the Blue Devils as they go for back-to-back NCAA championships.
With Kyrie Irving coming back and playing for the first time since early December, Duke adds yet another weapon to its arsenal.
Duke has so many players that can beat you. That is why they are a favorite to repeat.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
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Ohio State moves on to the Sweet 16 to face Kentucky.
The Buckeyes have definitely been one of the more impressive teams so far this tournament. Well, they should be. They are the No. 1 overall seed.
Their average winning margin for the first two games is 30.5 points.
Jared Sullinger and David Lighty have led the Buckeyes thus far, most recently teaming up to score 47 points against George Mason.
Kentucky will be Ohio State's first true test in the tournament.
1. Kansas Jayhawks
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Kansas will make its fifth trip to the Sweet 16 under head coach Bill Self.
The Jawhawks had to erase the memory of a Northern Iowa upset exactly one year ago in order to get past No. 9-seed Illinois.
Kansas was led again by the Morris brothers, who put up 41 points and 24 rebounds.
Tyshawn Taylor continues to improve in postseason play. Taylor is averaging close to four more points per game since the regular season ended.
The list does not stop there, either. The Jayhawks also get consistent contributions from Josh Selby, Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.
Kansas is a deep team that now has the easiest road to the Final Four. The highest seed that they could possibly face is the No. 10-seeded FSU Seminoles.