From 1-68: Ranking the NCAA field
Are the four No. 1 seeds the favorites to win the title? Let's look at the entire field, 1-68.
While there were a few gripes about which teams got snubbed this season, it feels like we discussed who got in and who get left out far less than we have in the past. Either way, it’s in our rearview mirror -- and it’s time to focus on the games ahead. It’s all about the matchups now, and which teams have the goods to make a run to Atlanta and win the national championship. Here is how we see the 68 teams in the dance stacking up.
The NCAA selection committee released its 1-68 seeding also, ranking every team in the field based on profile.
This, however, is not ranking teams based on resumes. It is a ranking of all 68 teams in the field, based on how they perform on the court. Essentially, if each team played the other 67 teams once, this is how I think the standings would turn out.
1. Indiana Hoosiers : The Hoosiers are the most complete team in the country, but do they have the killer instinct to win a title?
2. Louisville Cardinals : The Cardinals went through a slump in the middle of conference play, but they play terrific defense and have options on the offensive end.
3. Duke Blue Devils : With Ryan Kelly in the lineup, the Blue Devils are as dangerous as anyone in the country.
4. Gonzaga Bulldogs : They haven’t been tested too often in the past couple of months, but the Zags have terrific inside play and a number of weapons.
5. Georgetown Hoyas : It’s hard for teams to impose their pace on the Hoyas, which means it’s hard to take down Georgetown over 40 minutes.
6. Kansas Jayhawks : Aside from a bad stretch back in February, the Jayhawks have been consistently solid. Ben McLemore needs to step up.
7. Michigan State Spartans : Whenever Tom Izzo is at the helm, it’s not going to be easy to beat the Spartans. They are a very complete team, too.
8. Florida Gators : If the Gators figure out how to win close games -- 0-6 in single-digit contests -- they can beat anyone. The starting five is terrific.
9. Miami (Fla.) Hurricanes : They’re experienced, have terrific guards, and a matchup nightmare in Kenny Kadji . What will Reginald Johnson bring to the table?
10. Saint Louis Billikens : Good luck facing this team on 36 hours of preparation. The Billikens are physical and disciplined.
11. Ohio State Buckeyes : Playing their best basketball of the season, the Buckeyes are built to win tough games. Deshaun Thomas can carry them on offense.
12. Michigan Wolverines : The Wolverines have struggled to win away from home in recent weeks, but the backcourt of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. is outstanding.
13. New Mexico Lobos : The Lobos are ready to prove the doubters wrong – and they have the personnel to do it. Moreover, they know how to win close games.
14. Syracuse Orange : Was the Big East tourney performance a fluke? The Orange are shooting the ball well again, and the 2-3 zone is tough to beat.
15. UNLV Rebels : Based purely on talent, the Runnin’ Rebels are as good as anyone in the country. Can they put it together to go on a run?
16. Oklahoma State Cowboys : Marcus Smart is the type of player who can put the Cowboys on his back and carry them to a Final Four.
17. Wisconsin Badgers : Will the Badgers be able to replicate their conference play success in the NCAA tournament? They’re brutal to play against on short rest.
18. North Carolina Tar Heels : The Tar Heels changed their entire strategy in mid-February and haven’t looked back. Depending on matchups, they can make a run.
19. VCU Rams : Is another deep run in the offing for the Rams? They force turnovers and have the ability to blow teams out of the water.
20. Arizona Wildcats : The Wildcats got dealt a tough seed and path, but they have plenty of talent on the roster. Mark Lyons is the key for them.
21. Marquette Golden Eagles : The Golden Eagles don’t have any stars, but they have a number of offensive options and can hurt teams in different ways.
22. UCLA Bruins : The loss of Jordan Adams is going to be difficult to overcome, but the Bruins still have plenty of scorers and they’re supremely talented.
23. Creighton Bluejays : How deep the Bluejays go will be based on matchups. Doug McDermott is an absolute stud, but they need to defend.
24. NC State Wolfpack : If you look at the Wolfpack’s talent, you might think they can win some games. Can they repeat their Sweet 16 run?
25. Colorado State Rams : The Rams are one of the best rebounding teams in the country, and Colton Iverson is a tough post player to deal with.
26. San Diego State Aztecs : With the Aztecs’ wing duo of Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley , they can go toe-to-toe with most opponents.
27. Kansas State Wildcats : Bruce Weber has the Wildcats playing tough defense, and the ability of Rodney McGruder to make plays offensively is needed.
28. Pittsburgh Panthers : Will this be the year the Panthers end the trend of early knockouts in the NCAA tournament? Power ratings love them.
29. Butler Bulldogs : The Bulldogs are no longer sneaking up on teams, but Brad Stevens has some serious talent, led by shooter Rotnei Clarke .
30. Notre Dame Fighting Irish : With Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant in the backcourt, and Jack Cooley down low, the Irish are solid inside and out.
31. Memphis Tigers : We haven’t seen the Tigers beat anyone good this year, but they have a ton of athletes and are talented enough to win games.
32. Cincinnati Bearcats : Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright are the primary offensive options, but their defense will enable them to stay in games.
33. Missouri Tigers : Frank Haith and the Tigers are looking to avoid another Round of 64 knockout, but Phil Pressey will have to play smart late in the game.
34. Colorado Buffaloes : The Buffaloes struggled down the stretch with some injuries, but they have the ability to matchup with nearly any team in the country.
35. Wichita State Shockers : The Shockers have two solid bigs in Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall , but the perimeter players need to provide production.
36. Iowa State Cyclones : When this team is hitting 3-pointers, it can hang with anyone. Their ability to stretch the defense is impressive.
37. Illinois Fighting Illini : How far John Groce and the Illini go will depend on the production of Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson on the perimeter.
38. Oregon Ducks : Dominic Artis needs to be healthy and productive for the Ducks to win games in the dance. The committee underseeded them with a No. 12.
39. Minnesota Golden Gophers : Will the Golden Gophers be able to snap out of their slump of the final two months? Tubby Smith could be coaching for his job.
40. Temple Owls : With the game on the line, there aren’t many players I’d rather have than Khalif Wyatt , who will need big nights for the Owls to advance.
41. La Salle Explorers : The health of Steve Zack will be a factor for the Explorers, who have terrific perimeter players and an aggressive style.
42. Boise State Broncos : The Broncos will rely on the duo of Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic , and the 3-point shooting prowess of Jeff Elorriaga .
43. Belmont Bruins : Rick Byrd has had the Bruins poised for an upset for several years, and this could be the year they do it. They’re deep and experienced.
44. California Golden Bears : After a winning streak in February, the Golden Bears have lost two straight games. Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs to fill it up.
45. Bucknell Bison : With Mike Muscala on the inside, this disciplined and veteran unit won’t be an easy out in the Round of 64.
46. Villanova Wildcats : A slew of good wins helped propel the Wildcats into the dance, but they will need to win away from home to advance.
47. St. Mary's Gaels : The Gaels have lost only to Gonzaga in the past two months, which bodes well. But it will come down to Matthew Dellavedova .
48. Ole Miss Rebels : Marshall Henderson in the NCAA tournament will be fun to watch. If he gets hot (and stays under control), look out for the Rebels.
49. Oklahoma Sooners : The Sooners have a lot of weapons and their balance is tough to guard, but Romero Osby and Steven Pledger will be the keys.
50. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders : The Blue Raiders were the most hotly debated team in the tourney, and they will have to prove their worth with a win.
51. South Dakota State Jackrabbits : The Jackrabbits are going to be must-see TV, mostly due to the ability of cult-like figure Nate Wolters .
52. Davidson Wildcats : Any time Bob McKillop is roaming the sidelines for the Wildcats, they’re a threat. Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks form a terrific duo.
53. Valparaiso Crusaders : Ryan Broekhoff hit plenty of big shots to put the Crusaders in the dance, but now he and Kevin Van Wijk need to lead the way again.
54. Iona Gaels : Don’t be fooled by the Gaels’ MAAC record – this team is talented. Momo Jones and Sean Armand are capable of big scoring nights.
55. New Mexico State Aggies : The Aggies are aggressive on the offensive end, constantly driving the lane and drawing contact. They have won 18 of 20.
56. Harvard Crimson : The Crimson are not as talented as they were last season, but Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders have bright futures.
57. Akron Zips : The Zips would have been more of an upset threat had point guard Alex Abreu not been suspended. Zeke Marshall is one to watch.
58. Montana Grizzlies : With Will Cherry and Kareem Jamar in the backcourt, the Grizzlies are not to be overlooked. Can those two carry them to a win?
59. Northwestern State Demons : The Demons are deep and love to push the ball, ranking No. 1 in the country in tempo. They will try to wear teams down.
60. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles : FGCU has already proven it can beat elite teams, knocking off Miami earlier this season. Andy Enfield is doing a great job.
61. Pacific Tigers : What a way for head coach Bob Thomason to go out. Thomason has been to the dance before, and the Tigers are balanced and can shoot.
62. LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds : The Blackbirds have the athletes to compete, and Jamal Olasewere is one of the more versatile scorers around.
63. Southern Jaguars : Beating Texas A&M on the road proves the Jaguars are no pushover – and Derick Beltran and Malcolm Miller are a solid backcourt.
64. Albany Great Danes : The Great Danes made a run in the America East tournament, and their ability to play disciplined defense and rebound is their strength.
65. James Madison Dukes : Three wins in the CAA tournament sent the Dukes to the NCAA tournament – and they have the threats to scare an opponent.
66. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers : Another year, another surprising appearance in the tournament for the Hilltoppers. Ray Harper is doing well.
67. Liberty Flames : The first Cinderella of conference tournament week, the Flames won only 11 regular season games. John-Caleb Sanders is their best.
68. North Carolina A&T Aggies : A&T came out of the crazy MEAC tournament with a bid, and now the Aggies will look to win in the First Four.
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