What a remaining batch of teams we have here.
Yeah, the first weekend was chalky -- and by the way, that probably means you're sitting pretty with your own bracket -- but now we've got good game after good game lined up. Below, I've re-seeded/reordered the field. It's as deep and.
When re-seeding, I always try to concoct a rankings potion that takes real stock of how these teams just played in the first two rounds of the tournament while also heavily weighing season-long performance. If we were just going off how every team looked through only the past two games, Duke might be like 12th while Oregon would be top-three. Not exactly logical.
But this list is. Here is the 2019 NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16, re-seeded from best to worst.
|Actual seed: No. 1 in the South. The ACC has sent at least five teams to the second weekend for the third time in five years. The best of those teams -- the best team in college basketball -- is Virginia. The Cavaliers (31-3) got a real scare from Gardner-Webb in the first round, then had a tussle early with Oklahoma on Sunday. But they're into the second weekend for the third time in the past six years. This is still the No. 1 team at KenPom. I would have given UVA the No. 1 overall seed. They will be going to the Final Four.|
|Actual seed: No. 1 in the West. Gonzaga's fifth consecutive Sweet 16 showing is the best in the sport. The Bulldogs blitzed Fairleigh Dickinson and then got by Baylor without much annoyance, winning their first two games by a total of 50 points. Brandon Clarke had 36 points and five blocks vs. Baylor, becoming the third player in NCAA Tournament history to score at least 35 points and block at least five shots in a game. He's their best player, but Gonzaga (32-3) is No. 2 on this list because it continues to prove itself as the best offensive team in the sport. Gonzaga is scoring 124 points per 100 possessions.|
|Actual seed: No. 1 in the East. Only here because of two reasons: 1) UCF's Tacko Fall fouled out of the game on Sunday with 14 seconds left, taking him off the floor and making way for RJ Barrett to snag the offensive rebound on Zion Williamson's miss; 2) Aubrey Dawkins barely missing a put-back attempt that would have won the game for UCF. I can't believe he missed it -- yet I totally can. Duke (31-5) got lucky. Almost all national championship-winning teams do. This is a fun team. A great one, I think. But not the best one, not this year. That was the best game of the tournament, but at some point Cam Reddish and Tre Jones are going to have to shoot better or else Duke is getting bounced.|
|Actual seed: No. 1 in the Midwest. Roy Williams has won 59 NCAA Tournament games since 2000, 10 more than No. 2 on such a list (Mike Krzyzewski). Put some respect on the 29-6 Tar Heels who, yes, got a scare from Iona in the first round before winning by 15. UNC then beat Washington by more points (22) than the Gaels. UNC's adjusted tempo is 74.1 possession per game, making them much faster than anyone else left in the field; Duke is just a tick above 72 per game. With Nassir Little coming on strong (19.5 points through two tourney games), UNC's chances of winning the title only grow larger.|
|Actual seed: No. 2 in the South. The Vols might be a surprise at No. 5 for you here given they got pushed by Colgate and Iowa. But on the whole of the season, Tennessee is 31-5, has a top-three offense in the sport and has the best 1-2 combo outside of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. It was admirable for Admiral Schofield to remove himself from play in OT vs. Iowa -- and shocking that Rick Barnes obliged. No matter, the Vols move on. They're never lacking for confidence. This team is still undervalued, I think. Jordan Bowden, Lamonte Turner and Kyle Alexander have grown as players, significantly, in the past month.|
|Actual seed: No. 2 in the East. The 30-6 Spartans find themselves ranked third in at KenPom at this moment -- ahead of Duke. MSU had a bumpy ride vs. Bradley in the first round (but won by 11) and then whooped on Big Ten foe Minnesota by 20. The Spartans have continued to be an amazing passing team, assisting on 67.2 percent of its possessions. The Spartans have been best in America in this stat in three of the past four seasons.|
|Actual seed: No. 2 in the Midwest. The health of PJ Washington is the question. The Wildcats (29-6) killed Abilene Christian 79-44 and then edged Wofford 62-56, getting by in fortunate fashion because the most prolific 3-point shooter in men's D-I history, Fletcher Magee, had the worst statistical day from 3-point range in tourney history (0 for 12). What are the chances? Plenty of credit to UK for being a factor in that, but going forward, Washington is going to need to be on the floor for the Wildcats to have any chance to get to Minneapolis.|
|Actual seed: No. 3 in the South. You make the Sweet 16, you're a hot team. But how many teams are scorching at the level of Purdue over the past two games? The 25-9 Boilermakers played Old Dominion's slog-it-out style in the first round and still won 61-48 in a game that felt like a 25-point differential. Against the reigning champs in the second round, Carsen Edwards hit nine 3-pointers, scored 42 points and led an effort in which Purdue averaged 1.38 points per possession. Hot team, dangerous team -- and it's been 10th or better at KenPom for more than two months.|
|Actual seed: No. 3 in the West. While Texas Tech's top-ranked defense and its future lottery pick, Jarrett Culver, get most of the attention, allow me to bring into scope the play of 6-10 senior Tariq Owens. He's scoring an outstanding 1.69 points per possession in the tournament, according to Synergy. The 28-6 Red Raiders had the most impressive win in the second round: after trailing 25-24 to a very good Buffalo team, TTU broke open a 30-plus-point lead in the second half before settling on a 78-58 win. TTU was a win away from the Final Four last season.|
|Actual seed: No. 2 in the West. The Wolverines had a drama-free first weekend, beating Montana 74-55 and then knocking off Florida 64-49. John Beilein's 30-6 squad has the No. 2 defense in college basketball, right behind TTU. It's great that these teams will square off in Anaheim. Michigan is trying to pull together its first three-game win streak since January.|
|Actual seed: No. 4 in the West. Terance Mann is having himself a nice tournament. The two-way player is scoring 1.37 points per possession, which is only second to Gonzaga's Brandon Clarke (1.39) among all high-usage players in the NCAAs, per Synergy. I watched Florida State (29-7) up close in Hartford. It had a hard time vs. Vermont -- then went out and had one of its three best games of the season in booting Murray State. If FSU gets its 3-pointers to fall, it's a top-six team left in this tournament. It's that big and athletic.|
|Actual seed: No. 3 in the Midwest. The 33-3 Cougars are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984. Kelvin Sampson's squad had no issue with Georgia State on Friday, then kept Ohio State out of reach, winning 74-59 in the second round. The Cougars play with poise, have a three-guard attack -- led by senior Corey Davis -- that makes them a tough matchup. It speaks to how loaded this Sweet 16 team field is that Houston is ranked 12th. Yikes.|
|Actual seed: No. 3 in the East. The only team that had a better game on its way to the Sweet 16 than LSU was Duke. The Tigers got a winning scoop of a layup from Tremont Waters to move past No. 6 Maryland. LSU's done more than plenty expected, considering Will Wade hasn't been coaching this team at all in the postseason. From a talent perspective, LSU is easily one of the six or seven best teams left in the field. Defensively, it looks like the team is wanting and willing to make a jump. Let's see if it can do that vs. MSU. Tough ask.|
|Actual seed: No. 5 in the Midwest: A year ago, Auburn (28-9) got dropped 84-53 in the second round by Clemson. On Saturday, the Tigers scored 1.27 points per possession and beat Kansas 89-75 in a game that didn't even feel that close. Bruce Pearl's team escaped New Mexico State -- again, luck always has its say in this tournament -- which was one of the five best games of the first weekend. Now the Tigers will rely on their top-rated turnover percentage (25.2) and 3-point shooting (38.6) to get over on UNC.|
|Actual seed: No. 4 in the East. The Hokies at 15? A team that beat Duke this far down? This is the strongest crop of Sweet 16 teams ever. Buzz Williams has coached VT to back-to-back NCAA Tournament wins for the first time in school history. This group has a top-20 defense and a top-12 offense, according to KenPom. Now it gets Justin Robinson without all the rust. VT is coming off forgettable games against Saint Louis and Liberty and now finds itself on the underdog end of the most anticipated game of the regional semifinals: vs. Duke in D.C. on Friday night.|
|Actual seed: No. 12 in the South. Credit to 25-12 Oregon for abandoning the Pac-12 and playing like one of the 15 best teams in the country over the past three weeks. The only double-digit seed left in the field ranks well behind every other team in all metrics, so the Ducks have to be last. Given how Payton Pritchard, Kenny Wooten and Louis King are playing, a Final Four run is not out of the question. The problem is, the Ducks get the best team, Virginia, next. Oregon's offense ranks 74th at KenPom. Virginia's is second.|