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NCAA Power 16 Rankings

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 2:45pm

The regular season is over. Now the games really matter. Here's how we see the Power 16 shaping up at the moment:

Rank (Last Week)
Record
Comment
1. Ohio State (1)
29-2
You want a statement? The Buckeyes made 14-of-15 three-pointers in blasting No. 10 Wisconsin. They shot 68.1 percent from the field. They had 18 assists and just seven turnovers. There isn't a team in the country that can touch Ohio State when the shots are falling like that.
2. Kansas (3)
29-2
This Kansas team just isn't as impressive as last year's, even as the record is the exact same at the end of the regular season. Still, as other teams have taken big hits all around them, the Jayhawks look like a lock for a No. 1 seed. They're the Big 12 regular season champions, and the league's best team -- even if rival Kansas State might be playing better right now.
3.Pittsburgh (5)
27-4
The Panthers managed to shake off a stunning, crazy loss at Louisville with a pair of double-digit wins. Sure, dropping bottom-feeder South Florida and winning at home against Villanova weren't exactly stunners, but they were further proof that the Panthers have been, perhaps, the most consistent team in the nation. Four losses by a combined 16 points -- one in overtime -- are the only blemishes on a great resume.
4. Notre Dame (9)
25-5
Notre Dame beat two ranked teams (Villanova and Connecticut) last week, even withstanding a huge effort from Kemba Walker. What makes the Irish so good? Three-point shooting efficiency, for one. They made 30-of-56 from beyond the arc in the two wins. Ben Hansbrough has been the best player in Big East league play, and Tim Abromaitis is one heck of a second option.
5. North Carolina (13)
24-6
The Tar Heels have won 12 of their last 13 games. They've avenged their only loss (at Duke) in the span. And they've claimed the ACC regular season title. All the criticism heaped upon Harrison Barnes, Roy Williams and North Carolina has gone away. This team is a legitimate national title threat.
6. Duke (4)
27-4
There's a lot to like about the Blue Devils in March. For one, they're led by a great pair of seniors, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. But the fact is, they haven't quite been the same since losing Kyrie Irving, whose return is unlikely. Duke can still win a national title. Mike Krzyzewski's made Final Fours with less, to be certain. But there are holes in the paint, and even with Seth Curry's emergence, the backcourt may not be good enough to overcome a weak frontcourt.
7. San Diego State (7)
29-2
San Diego State has one defined weakness this season: Jimmer Fredette. Beating Colorado State, a team once in the bubble picture, by 18 is impressive. Losing twice to one team (BYU) is rough, but losing zero times to any other teams, is a sign that the Aztecs might be a dangerous factor in March.
8. BYU (2)
28-3
A loss to New Mexico alone would have dropped BYU a few spots. The loss of Brandon Davies, the team's only legitimate post presence, means a lot more than one 18-point blowout. Say what you want about honor code violations, this team is significantly weakened without Davies. He was the third-best player on the team, behind Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emory, but he was easily its second-most important. It is hard to imagine the Cougars making a major identity switch this late in the season.
9. Syracuse (12)
25-6
Five straight wins to end the regular season prove what many have been thinking -- this Syracuse team has righted many of the wrongs that came in a stretch of four-straight losses to end January. Keep in mind, just one of the Orange's six losses came against a foe that won't be dancing (Seton Hall) this month. Scoop Jardine, Kris Joseph and Rick Jackson give Jim Boeheim a solid core, and several players on the fringes (C.J. Fair, in particular), have stepped up nicely when the team has needed it.
10. Purdue (8)
25-6
A loss like Purdue's Saturday at Iowa requires dropping a few spots. The 67-65 stunner was likely an aberration, but it also points to the streaky nature of [Player: E'Twaun Moore], who had 11 points and just one assist. At his best, Moore is better than JaJuan Johnson -- not a complimentary part but a star. But if Moore is absent, Johnson becomes the team's only reliable threat, and that's just not good enough to win a national title.
11. Texas (6)
25-6
Yep. Rick Barnes still coaches Texas, which has now lost three of its last five, all against unranked teams. The Longhorns were gifted about as easy a Big 12 schedule as one could ask and haven't played a ranked opponent since January. This team is too talented and deep for this kind of finish. But with Barnes at the helm, I wouldn't trust the Longhorns in your bracket picks.
12. Florida (14)
23-6
Ending their regular season with Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama and Vanderbilt, the Gators did an impressive job winning three in the stretch. Florida is the best team in the SEC, and the SEC is better than it has been in recent years. Now, if only Billy Donovan could reel in guards Erving Walker (41 percent from the field), Kenny Boynton (37.5) and Scottie Wilbekin (37), and get more shots for forwards Vernon Macklin (57.6), Chandler Parsons (49.4), Alex Tyus (48.2), Erik Murphy (50.6) and Patric Young (58). The group may be the deepest frontcourt in the country.
13. Wisconsin (10)
23-7
The crumbling in Columbus was brutal, but it didn't teach us anything we didn't know already. Wisconsin may be the best home team in the country, but on the road, it's just above average. On a neutral court? That's what we need to figure out these next few weeks.
14. Louisville (11)
23-8
The least talented team in the Power 16 keeps on keepin' on. Rick Pitino is known for getting the most out of his talent -- the man made Antoine Walker and Tony Delk into the core of one of the most dominant teams in recent NCAA history. There may not be an NBA player on the roster, but Louisville has wonderful chemistry and rebounds, defends and scores as a team.
15. Arizoina (16)
25-6
A successful trip through Oregon, and Washington's beating UCLA, ensured Arizona of the Pac-10 title. Factor in the league's best player (Derrick Williams) and coach (Sean Miller), and the Wildcats were the story of the year on the West Coast. This team can run athletes at you all day, which helps make up for a lack of size.
16. Kentucky (NR)
22-8

Three straight wins against three of the SEC's toughest opponents (Florida, Vanderbilt and at Tennessee), show what this team can do. Losses at Mississippi and Arkansas are the only blemishes on an otherwise strong season. Terrence Jones has cooled, but Brandon Knight is heating up. Josh Harrellson can rebound all day, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller are strong secondary scorers and DeAndre Liggins is a fantastic defender. This team's biggest problem comes after that.

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