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NCAA 2015

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Sweet 16 reset: How they rank heading into regionals

by | Special to CBSSports.com


Will we ever get to a point where the NCAA reseeds the tournament after the first weekend? No. That'd require more work for the selection committee and more opportunity for the public to scrutinize another bracket decision. Plus, they'd have to be sequestered in another conference room high atop a hotel in Indianapolis. At some point, Stockholm Syndrome sets in, and that's not good for anyone.

Nevertheless, I've decided to re-seed the field, or re-rank it if you will, after the first three rounds of play. This isn't just based upon two games -- that kind of evaluation is too shallow -- but is a combination of recent events and misfires made the first time around by the selection committee, when it released the field into the wild, wow, just a week ago. Time flies when your bracket burns.

Let's get to the order of power:

1. Ohio State: And with a bullet. Buckeyes were the No. 1 overall seed heading into this thing and haven't played a minute to disprove that. They've instead played at a level that was '96 Kentucky-esque. No more words need to be dedicated to their worthiness atop all others.

2. Kansas: With all the noise surrounding teams winning and losing (and officials being the reason for some of it), Kansas quietly advanced past two teams in a free-for-all Southwest. In a way, that's how it's supposed to be. I remember a time when one seeds got through the first weekend with nary a hiccup. Such cases still exist, thankfully, and Kansas is one. This wasn't true last year, when the Jayhawks, the No. 1 overall seed, got Farokhmanesh-ed by No. 9 Northern Iowa.

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3. Duke: The Blue Devils stay at the three spot because Kyrie Irving coming back to the fold is a good thing -- don't tell me having the best talent at point guard is a detriment -- but he has not been so good that Duke deserves to leapfrog Kansas. The Blue Devils did just skate by Michigan, after all, and are far from perfect.

4. North Carolina: Based on Kendall Marshall's passing alone, UNC now falls into the fourth No. 1 spot. The Heels needed some dumb play from Venoy Overton and inconsistent whistling from the zebras to get to the second weekend, but they go nonetheless. When you watch North Carolina, the potential is hard to miss. Tyler Zeller and John Henson are a force in and around the paint.

5. San Diego State: Has a double-overtime NCAA tournament game been as nondescript as San Diego State 71, Temple 64? Part of it was the game going down at the same time as Pitt-Butler's classic. Part of it was 50 minutes played and just 135 total points. Still, SDSU is as athletic as any team in the field, and the Kawhi Leonard-Billy White-Malcolm Thomas frontline will be heard from in the team's game against UConn. Oh, yeah, D.J. Gay: still the most underrated point guard in the country.

6. Brigham Young: Think BYU's too high? Did you happen to catch the way the Cougars played in the Mile High City? Talk of Brandon Davies' suspension and its impact got into the hyperbolic stages, but now that everyone's had time to cool down, BYU has been able to heat up. Jimmer's the driving force, but Jackson Emery and Charles Abouo are why BYU gets the high ranking. No team -- save for Ohio State; I mean, did you see what OSU did to poor little George Mason Sunday? -- is as scary when it's hot as BYU.

7. Kentucky: The Wildcats fall right in line with UF. Kentucky won the SEC conference tournament, and both teams should've been seeded on the three line. Kentucky's got the better talent and beat better teams. That's a circumstance of seeding, but so what? The committee put Kentucky too low, so I'm using what little power I have to alter things.

8. Florida: The Gators are beginning to sway me. I couldn't buy all season long, despite the evidence. Just something about them. But after tearing through the first game and fighting off a UCLA group that could've beaten a lot of teams in this field, they earn a spot in the top half of these rankings. Chandler Parsons, you ready to go shot-for-shot with Jimmer?

9. Wisconsin: That 36-33 loss to Penn State in the Big Ten tournament was a black eye, one that led to a load of folks taking Belmont over Wisconsin in the first round. I was gleeful at this: I have Wisconsin in my Elite Eight. Badgers are on pace to be the best free-throw shooting team ... in the history of college basketball. That's vital in close games, and the Badgers play close. They also play efficiently. They also have Jordan Taylor, an incredible player who just got his dud out of the way when UW got by Kansas State in a top-five game from this tournament so far.

10. Connecticut: Kemba can't do it all, and UConn's likely to get picked off by the end of the upcoming weekend because he'll got locked down/have a bad shooting night. Alex Oriakhi's had a great season, but he'll be overmatched no matter which team Connecticut plays this weekend. Getting to the second weekend is a great accomplishment for a team thought to be a fringe NCAA tournament squad when the season began. And to be top 10 on this list? Pride.

11.Florida State: The fact that FSU's D is so game-altering and the Noles have a solid future pro in Chris Singleton puts them ahead of everyone else remaining. Notre Dame looked like a unwilling, mutated version of itself against FSU. You'd think Leonard Hamilton's team doesn't have the consistent offense to win two more, but the defense is so good -- best in the country, as a matter of fact -- that maybe it's possible.

12. Butler: Let's not go overreacting to Butler's two wins. Brad Stevens himself admitted his team isn't better than Old Dominion or Pittsburgh -- it just had the ball last in both of those games, giving them the opportunity to eke out clutch W's. Matt Howard's awkward body language lives to see another game. We're all better for it; he's Kramer on a basketball court.

13. Arizona: Arizona has my favorite player remaining in Derrick Williams. Williams hit one of the biggest shots of this tournament when his off-balance, goofy-looking layup fell in after the officiating debacle in the Texas game gave the Wildcats the ball back, allowing the big man to tie the game/give 'Zona the lead. Momo Jones is erratic. Fun, but a liability at point guard. Sean Miller has done a good job by getting this team to the second weekend a year after falling well short of the tournament, but there are limitations with this group. Would be shocked to see it get to Houston.

14. Richmond: The Spiders are among the most underseeded teams in the field, but when you get down to 16, it's hard to climb the ladder among the beef that remains. Chris Mooney's club looked very cool and confident in Denver -- I should know; I saw them up close -- and that is terrific. Can Justin Harper match up with Kansas' bigs? Uh ... not inside.

15. Marquette: And we've reached my Big East bashing portion of the program! I really have no interest in putting any conference on trial, for good or bad; that kind of talk bores me and makes sports-talk radio unbearable (for some, the latter statement is perma-true). Marquette was the 10th- or 11th-best team in the Big East this season. It's had two upsets to get here, and so no shame in being at the bottom of this list. Buzz Williams is the man. If you cornered him, he'd cop to being on a low rung, too.

16. Virginia Commonwealth: Uh-oh. Disrespectin' the Rams again! Hey, what Shaka Smart's team has done may not be repeated for a long time; when do you think we'll see a Tuesday or Wednesday winner make it through the first weekend by knocking off a six and a three? At this point, Smart's coached himself out of the job at VCU. I love the fact VCU or Florida State will be in the Elite Eight. Rogue teams that reach the regional finals are always fun. But this is a team that lost four of its final five in the regular season, and overall has limitations. A banner year for the program, I'll let them enjoy it and wish them the best at more bracket-busting.

Photo from the Associated Press


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