The Sweet 16 power rankings are here. These are based on how the teams are playing through the first weekend, who they beat and how they finished off the game with a mix of how they may still fare over the next week.
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1. North Carolina: The Tar Heels have been scary good through the first weekend with Nassir Little rising up to his preseason hype.
2. Gonzaga: The Zags have the best two-way player remaining in the draw in Brandon Clarke, a force inside and a rim protector.
3. Duke: The Blue Devils haven’t played up to their potential — yet. But Zion Williamson’s will to get Duke to within one was what stars do. His fellow all-star RJ Barrett then won the game with an offensive putback.
4. Virginia: The Cavaliers got their scare in the first half against Gardner-Webb, and then took apart Oklahoma in the second half.
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5. Tennessee: The Vols nearly blew the Iowa game, but Grant Williams took over the overtime to keep the title hopes alive.
6. Purdue: The Boilermakers are this high because of the 42 by Carsen Edwards and a beat down of the Big East champs Villanova.
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7. Florida State: The Seminoles absolutely destroyed Murray State and looked as impressive as any team in the field.
8. Michigan State: The Spartans nearly got beat by Bradley but then Cassius Winston helped pick apart Big Ten rival Minnesota.
9. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders had as impressive a win as any team in the second round against Buffalo as its defense locked up the Bulls in the second half.
10. Michigan: The Wolverines looked the part of a title contender in beating Florida and are in a bracket they can win again out West.
11. Auburn: The Tigers have been one of the best shooting teams in the field. They crushed Kansas after surviving a furious finish against New Mexico State.
12. LSU: The Tigers nearly let Yale back into the game and then beat Maryland on an epic scoop layup by Tremont Waters.
13. Kentucky: Don’t hate on this BBN. Kentucky did beat Wofford and shut out Fletcher Magee on 3s. But no P.J. Washington could limit the Wildcats from advancing to the Final Four.
14. Houston: The Cougars defended as well as any team in the first weekend and have the toughness to advance.
15. Virginia Tech: The Hokies held off Liberty and are finally healthy at the right time with Justin Robinson healthy.
16. Oregon: Kenny Wooten is a beast. And maybe I’ll regret this but it’s hard to put them higher in this group.
Top 3 Sweet 16 matchups
1. Florida State (4) vs. Gonzaga (1), West region, Anaheim, Thursday: This could end up being the game of the Sweet 16. The Seminoles have incredible length, size, athleticism and confidence heading into the Sweet 16 for the second season in a row. They get a chance to take down Gonzaga again. But the Zags have Brandon Clarke and Killian Tillie inside — a pair of forwards they didn’t have in the game a year ago. The game could come down to the shooting of Terrance Mann and Zach Norvell.
2. LSU (3) vs. Michigan State (2), East region, Washington D.C., Friday: Love this matchup. LSU has the size in Naz Reid and Kavell Bigby-Williams to match Michigan State’s Nick Ward, Xavier Tillman and Kenny Goins. The guard matchup should be dynamite with and Tremont Waters and Cassius Winston. The question will be who wins the glue guys Skylar Mays vs. Matt McQuaid. Should be a dynamite game and the winner may have the edge to win the East.
3. Purdue (3) vs. Tennessee (3), South region, Louisville, Thursday: Carsen Edwards went for 42 against Villanova. The chore of stopping him will come down to Jordan Bone and Lamonte Turner. The Vols win the matchup inside with Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield, but Edwards can dominate the ball/position enough to carry the Boilermakers. The Vols already had to go to overtime against one Big Ten team, will they have to do it again?