Reseeding the field: Ranking the teams remaining for the Sweet 16
It's a loaded Sweet 16, with 10 top-four seeds among the teams remaining. Throw in several hot lower-seeded teams, and this 1-16 ranking will stir some debate.
What a weekend. It was one of the best first weekends of the NCAA Tournament I can remember, with a handful of double-digit upsets, dozens of down-to-the-wire games, winning shots in the final seconds, marquee performances -- everything you could ask for from the past 96 hours. And now, we can begin to look ahead. But it's time to rethink our analysis of these teams, too. We ranked all 68 teams at the start of the NCAA Tournament; now we're going to adjust that based on what we saw from the Round of 64 and Round of 32 (and in Tennessee's case, the First Four).
1. Florida Gators : The Gators are still the favorites to cut down the nets in Dallas, despite not looking dominant in their two wins. Their defense is among the best in the country -- and it will have to be against UCLA in the regional semifinals.
2. Arizona Wildcats : After a lackluster game against Weber State, the Wildcats rolled past Gonzaga in a blowout Round of 32 victory. Up next is a rematch with San Diego State that will be defined on the defensive end. Arizona's mismatches are tough.
3. Virginia Cavaliers : The Cavaliers continue to roll, now winning 18 of their past 19 games after handling Coastal Carolina and Memphis. This is yet another team that will be carried by its defense, but Michigan State will be a difficult test.
4. Michigan State Spartans : Still among the favorites to win the championship, the Spartans are hoping their escape against Harvard was a wakeup call. They have the pieces to make a run, they just need to perform consistently the rest of the way.
5. Louisville Cardinals : It wasn't a perfect first weekend for the Cardinals, as they were nearly bounced by Manhattan before sliding past Saint Louis. Friday's matchup against Kentucky will be the most anticipated Sweet 16 game of the tournament.
6. Baylor Bears : There are very few teams playing as well as the Bears right now. They dominated both Nebraska and Creighton (by 30!) and now face Wisconsin, a team that could give the zone some problems. But Baylor has talent all over the roster.
7. Kentucky Wildcats : The Wildcats have finally turned the corner in the 2013-14 season -- although it took slightly longer than expected. Coming off the win over Wichita State, Kentucky is certainly a threat to reach the Final Four. The offense is clicking.
8. Tennessee Volunteers : It wouldn't be a shock to see the 11th-seeded Volunteers continue to roll all the way to Dallas. After beating Iowa in overtime, they steamrolled Massachusetts and Mercer with ease. Their past seven wins were by an average of 22.9 points.
9. Michigan Wolverines : Things opened up a bit for the Wolverines in the bottom half of the Midwest Region with Duke losing, but Tennessee could pose an issue. They cruised past Wofford and Texas, but will they be able to handle the Vols' bigs?
10. Wisconsin Badgers : Before Kentucky-Wichita State, Wisconsin's win over Oregon might have been the best game of the NCAA Tournament. But the Badgers now face a hot team in Baylor, one that just shut down the nation's best player -- and offense.
11. UCLA Bruins : The second-best team in the South Region faces a brutal matchup on Thursday, going against Florida and its lockdown defense. But the Gators haven't seen an offense like the Bruins in months -- this one could be close.
12. Iowa State Cyclones : The Cyclones found a way to beat North Carolina without Georges Niang, as DeAndre Kane put the team on his back. He will have to do the same thing against Shabazz Napier and UConn -- but they won't be overmatched down low.
13. Connecticut Huskies : Shabazz Napier had one of the best performances of the tournament against Villanova, hitting big shot after big shot -- much like he did against Saint Joseph's in the Round of 64. The Huskies are evenly matched with Iowa State.
14. San Diego State Aztecs : The Aztecs didn't look all that great against New Mexico State, but their defensive effort against North Dakota State was fantastic. And Xavier Thames put on an absolute show. They need more performances like that vs. Arizona.
15. Stanford Cardinal : Back-to-back upset wins over New Mexico and Kansas have put the Cardinal in the Sweet 16 -- and they will be the favorite against Dayton. Given Stanford's size and ability to defend, they match up well with anyone in the region.
16. Dayton Flyers : The biggest surprise of the first weekend, Dayton beat Ohio State and Syracuse by a combined three points -- and won't be out of its league whatsoever against Stanford. Can the Flyers bang inside with Stanford's bigs?
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