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Sweet 16 prompts some sweet reseeding of remaining field

by | CBSSports.com College Basketball Blogger

The first weekend was good, but not great. For the first time since the field expanded, we did not have an overtime game Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Now we've got an interesting set of 16 left.

 A fourth of the field is the Big Ten.

 A fourth is from the Big East.

 A fourth is from Ohio alone -- the most of any one state ever to reach the second weekend of the same tournament. Each year, after 16 teams dodge all the mines, bullets and shrapnel, we stand and look at what's left.

It happens so fast, that 68-to-16 shrinkage. No time to look back. We gotta arrange those still standing from best to worst!

We do not reseed based upon the two most recent games -- that kind of evaluation is too shallow -- rather as a combination of recent events and misfires made the first time by the selection committee, when it released the field into the wild, wow, only a week ago. Time flies when your bracket burns. Think of this as a new master seed list molded with an expectation of performance

The CBSSports.com Sweet 16 power list:

1. Kentucky
There is no other choice. What I thought was cute: Kentucky let Iowa State hang around until it was 44-42. Yeah, that game ended 87-71. I really don't need to be writing anything else to convince you Kentucky is No. 1 because it's a universally accepted truth, like water being wet and Georgetown failing to play into the second weekend.

2. Michigan State
Yes, Sparty at No. 2. The reasons are fairly obvious. Won the Big Ten tournament, looked good in its two wins over the weekend. Oh, and they're dealing with the loss of a valuable starter much better than the other two one seeds ranked below them. I think we all have a serious problem on our hands, though. Can't you feel yourself falling more and more in love with Draymond Green by the game? Let that feeling take you over. Fun and not surprising fact of the day: Michigan State has been to 10 of the past 15 Sweet 16s. That is extremely rarefied air.

3. Ohio State

The Buckeyes were not particularly sharp against Loyola (Md.) and then held off a game Gonzaga club. Can't explain it, but I think this team is going to reach the Final Four. I had it before the Melo suspension and now I feel even better about the prospect of it happening. Deshaun Thomas has been playing like we though Jared Sullinger would. And now Sullinger looks like he could find the flint for his match against Cincinnati. Sullinger vs. Yancy Gates will be must-see TV.

4. Syracuse

I have bailed a little bit but not that much. I had Syracuse in the Elite Eight before the Melo news and didn't remove the Orange even after the sophomore center was deemed ineligible. Let us not forget how this is Jim Boeheim's deepest team. And that Kris Joseph is now pretty incredibly underrated.

5. North Carolina

Can't put UNC in the top four if I don't know if Kendall Marshall is playing. Marshall is motor oil for that offense. Stillman White is about to become the most well-known backup since Curtis Painter. Carolina has all that talent, but its offense is completely different without Marshall's NBA-level court vision and passing ability. I don't think the Tar Heels can win the tournament if he's out for the rest of it. Fortunately, UNC gets a break with Ohio in its regional semi.

6. Kansas
The more I think about it, the more I know Purdue didn't give that game away. Kansas, Thomas Robinson and a scary-as-hell will to win ripped it from the Boilers. If I were to rank these teams based on talent alone, Kansas is probably 11th or 12th on this list. But KU has Robinson and Bill Self coaching. And increasingly insane Jeff Withey. And increasingly enigmatic Tyshawn Taylor.

7. Marquette
I love what's to come with this team: Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles will be widely seen and respected for the talented group of players that they are. This isn't a Big East team put together with duct tape and junior-college transfers. Jae Crowder was the Player of the Year in the Big East. Darius Johnson-Odom is a physical freak and a mismatch for almost every opponent. Marquette can run you into the ground. Team is so, so good.

8. Baylor
If Baylor's players played with the ferociousness of Kansas, not only would this team be in the top three on this list, it would have also earned a one seed. As it is, the Bears are extremely long, highly talented and just good enough to tease you into thinking they can beat Kentucky. They can't, but you'll be tricked into believing it for a few moments.

9. Louisville
My gut reaction to this team's inclusion in the Sweet 16 is all about Peyton Siva. I don't see parallels with 2011 UConn (won the Big East tournament, etc.). What I see is a junior point guard carrying a team but don't know when that ends. I can see it ending Thursday night around 10 ET, but wouldn't be completely surprised -- though it would be a little weird -- if this group managed to get two more Ws. And if that happened ... Louisville vs. Kentucky in the Final Four? No, no -- we're too far off to dream of such a thing.

10. Cincinnati
I never thought I'd say this, but Cincinnati's program has been able to return to prominence (it's the Bearcats' first second-weekend appearance in 11 years). Yancy Gates has played to his potential in the final stretch of his senior year. Cashmere Wright can be a joy to watch. This team, frankly, looks unlike the Cincinnati teams Cronin has had since arriving five years ago.

11. Indiana
No Verdell Jones means IU isn't as good as it could be. Man, the Hoosiers really stole it away from VCU -- and were lucky to pull it off considering the Rams abandoned their havoc look and tried to milk the clock to get a win. Jones is out with an ACL tear, meaning the Hoosiers have one less good ball-handler and decision-maker. He's not huge, but it looked like Indiana was hurting without him Saturday night. Almost no one can hold down Christian Watford and Cody Zeller. Big shots, big rebounds, big moments for this team. The dream season continues.

12. Wisconsin
Let's get one thing straight: Wisconsin's in the Sweet 16 and nobody is talking about the Badgers after they were skewered for uncharacteristically losing so many home games. Then Bo Ryan goes all Bo Ryan and easily gets his team to take out trendy upset pick Montana and upend a more talented Vandy team. Jordan Taylor, a senior point guard, gets his team to back-to-back Sweet 16s. Yeah, this is not a top 10 team. But with most other coaches it's not even sniffing the second weekend.

13. Florida
Gator fans are going to hate seeing their team so low. UF can obviously make the Final Four. But I've got as much trust in that as I do a toddler doing my taxes. I take almost nothing from the dismantling of Norfolk State. Beating Virginia was fine ... until you realize UVa hadn't played well all season and was the quintessential blasé team that sort of just walks into the field without the proper credentials. The Gators need Patric Young to change himself into Voltron, and Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker have to shoot better than 50 percent from 3. If those two things happen, UF is a top-six team in this field. But I don't see it happening.

14. North Carolina State
I love the upsets no one calls. The ones that aren't even incredibly shocking but still camouflaged in the bracket like a lioness in dying beige African vegetation. N.C. State in the Sweet 16 was not one of those upsets. Many people had the Wolfpack getting past San Diego State, and a large subset of those people went a step further and put Mark Gottfried's team into the regional semifinals. State fans have waited a long time for this. And now they'll demand it every year, lest they fire another coach who can't make it happen. Unreasonable expectations! Yes!

15. Xavier
Everyone wants to make Xavier's season about the fight. I can't. That's irrelevant now. Here's what you need to know: Only Kansas, Xavier, Michigan State and North Carolina have made the Sweet 16 four times in the past five years. The Musketeers have a top 20 national program now, and the fact they made it to the second weekend again shouldn't be seen as some grand transformation from the group they were four months ago. Let's also realize Xavier got a terrible offensive team in Notre Dame (which was gifted a seven seed) and then had to play one of only six 15 seeds in the history of the Round of 32. Give Xavier credit for going 2-0, but also realize it had the easiest road of any Sweet 16 team.

16. Ohio

Man do I hate putting the only real mid-major program on this list last. But it's the sensible choice. You want to know how I chose to put Ohio here? I looked at UNC and put myself in the Tar Heels' position. With Kendall Marshall's immediate future unknown, who do you think the Tar Heels would pick to face? With any team left to choose, they're taking Ohio, right? For that reason alone, the Bobcats are last. But to Peter King, who is no doubt taking the time to read this, know this and feel better: I put VCU No. 16 last year when compiling this list. Ohio needs to be proud, above anything, for being the fifth 13 seed (out of 11) since the field expanded to make the second weekend.


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