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Andy Katz | Correspondent | March 5, 2018

Power 36: Who's in the NCAA tournament?

Every week, Andy Katz ranks his top 36 teams. These rankings are his own and are in no way affiliated with the committee.

The Power 36 entering the final week of the season before Selection Sunday comes down to one question: who is playing the best basketball right now?

1. Virginia

The Cavaliers have won five in a row, including a last-second winner at Louisville. This team has something special going on. 

2. Xavier

The Musketeers have had one team that they haven’t figured out yet — Villanova. But that didn’t deter them from winning the Big East outright. The Musketeers got to an Elite Eight under Chris Mack. This time they can get to a Final Four. 

3. Villanova

The Wildcats are still one of the favorites to reach the Final Four, despite not winning the Big East. Maybe, just maybe, Jay Wright can use this as major motivation this week in New York at the Big East tournament and beyond. 

4. Michigan

The Wolverines were the Big Ten tournament title champs. They won’t be seeded ahead of Michigan State or Purdue but they beat them both and are playing better basketball. They have the look of a Final Four team. 

5. Cincinnati

The Bearcats won the outright American title. That should be good enough to warrant a top 16 seed when the selections come out Sunday. 

6. Purdue

The Boilermakers finally got back to being the aggressor after Rutgers pushed them a bit. Purdue took it to Penn State and was right there with Michigan for a spell before the Wolverines pulled ahead. There is time to tweak and the Boilermakers still have the ability to make a deep run. 

7. Michigan State

The Spartans have room to grow. But time is running short. This extra week will be spent on sharpening this team and ensuring they have the mental edge in place to make a run to San Antonio. 

8. Duke

The Blue Devils got pushed against North Carolina as expected, but rolled late in the game for the win. The road loss at Virginia Tech still stings, but can be erased this week. 

9. Gonzaga

The Zags won the WCC after being pushed early in the conference by Saint Mary’s. The Zags don’t have the anchor in Nigel Williams-Goss this season. But they do have a few experienced players remaining to take them far.

10. Wichita State

The Shockers were one possession away from a share of their first-ever American title. But alas the Bearcats were too tough in the final possession and the shot didn’t fall for Wichita State. Still, this team has the chops to go far next month. 

11. Kansas: The Jayhawks were looking like they were clicking at an elite, Final Four level before a dud in Stillwater. Let’s see if that was an anomaly this week in Kansas City. 

12. Tennessee: The Volunteers won a share of the SEC title. They’ve won four in a row. And Rick Barnes gets vindicated for anyone who questioned him during his tenure at Texas. He knows what he’s doing. And it shows. 

13. Arizona: The Wildcats swept the Bay Area schools and head into the Pac-12 tournament without the distractions that dogged them in the previous week. Let’s see if they can settle down and play well for three straight days. 

14. Auburn: The Tigers shared the SEC title with Tennessee. That alone speaks volumes about the turnaround at Auburn. Bruce Pearl has had to deal with plenty of distractions and injuries this season. And somehow this team has been able to maintain some semblance of normalcy on the court. 

March Madness: Radford beats the buzzer, Michigan rolls, and bids are locked

15. Houston: The Cougars finished out the season winning three games in a row and enter the American tournament in Orlando this week with as much of a chance to win the event as Wichita State or Cincinnati. 

16. Clemson: The Tigers dealt with a major injury and still managed to finish in a tie for third. Brad Brownell would have taken that in October without question. 

17. Miami: The Hurricanes have won four in a row and have weathered injuries and distractions to finish strong this season. 

18. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have lost two games in a row and that’s enough to cause some concern. The loss to Miami should have woken this team up and it did for a spell against Duke. But they need to tighten things before the ACC tournament. 

19. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders had a marvelous season by finishing tied for second with West Virginia in the Big 12. But they had plenty of opportunities that were lost in the final few weeks of the season. 

20. Ohio State: The Buckeyes have stalled a bit down the stretch, save the win over Indiana last week. Ohio State needs to get back to the way it played in January and early February. That means making the finishing plays and winning the 50-50 balls. This is still a Sweet 16 potential team. 

21. Rhode Island: The Rams didn’t end up rolling to the outright A-10 title. They won by one, losing the final two games to their two challengers St. Bonaventure and Davidson. The Rams need to get their edge back. 

22. Florida: The Gators rocked Kentucky and have won three in a row. Maybe they are back to being the team that looked like a Sweet 16 team in Portland back in November. 

23. Virginia Tech: The Hokies beat Duke at home. They won at Virginia. This has turned out to be a solid season for them heading into the ACC tournament. 

24. NC State: The Wolfpack ended with a win over Louisville to finish in a tie with Clemson, Miami and North Carolina. That’s not too shabby for first-year coach Kevin Keatts. 

25. Kentucky: The Wildcats had been playing their best basketball of the season before going to Gainesville. The Gators may have stunted the momentum. The SEC tournament in Missouri should give an indication of where Kentucky stands. 

26. Missouri: The Tigers had slipped a bit but won two in a row and appear now ready to be the host in St. Louis. Mizzou is going to be in the NCAA tournament but could really help its seeding with a run this week. 

27. Arkansas: The Hogs finished tied for fourth in the SEC. This was a team that had been lurking for a while but hadn’t emerged as a top SEC team until the last month. They have a chance to be a tough out in March again. 

28. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies played one of the best games of the season, beating Davidson in triple overtime a week ago before beating Saint Louis on the road. 

29. West Virginia: It’s easy to fall for the Mountaineers when they are playing well. But when they lose to Texas without Mo Bamba there is reason to pause. 

30. Davidson: Yes, the Wildcats deserve to be in the Power 36 after beating Rhode Island at home. They were right there to knock off the Bonnies in Olean, but couldn’t close it out in any of the previous two overtime periods. This could be the team that steals a bid and wins in DC this week. 

RELATED: Full automatic qualifier list | Scoreboard

31. Seton Hall: The Pirates have been all over the map this season. The talent is still in play for the Pirates to make a deep run in New York this week. That could do wonders for this team’s profile/seeding. 

32. UCLA: The Bruins had to beat USC on the road to quiet any critics of their selection. They did. 

33. Kansas State: The Wildcats finished fourth in the Big 12, which is quite a statement from a team that wasn’t expected to be in that position. Still, the resume could use a bit more meat and winning a few games this week would do wonders for its chances. 

34. TCU: The Horned Frogs dealt with a major injury and were able to still finish in the top five. Jamie Dixon came home to his alma mater to get TCU in the NCAA tournament. Mission accomplished. 

35. Saint Mary’s: The Gaels need to get to the title game against Gonzaga. That has to happen for Saint Mary’s to breathe a bit on Sunday. 

36. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys deserve mention after beating Kansas for the second time this season. And it wasn’t that close. Oklahoma State still needs work in the Big 12 tournament but the Cowboys have now given themselves a chance. 

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