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Sweet Sixteen Power Rankings

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Only sixteen teams remain in the NCAA Tournament, and we rank them from top to bottom.

Sweet Sixteen Power Rankings

As hard as it is to believe, after tomorrow night the NCAA Tournament will already by more than halfway completed. As great as the tournament is, it just goes by much too quickly. But while it's still here, we need to treasure it. 

What better way to do that than by taking a slightly closer look at all 16 teams remaining. This Power Rankings of the teams left will take into account their performance in up until this point and the team's prospects of winning a national title. Let's take a look.

1. Louisville Cardinals - Rick Pitino's team has lived up to that number one overall seed. In their two wins, the Cardinals have won by an average margin of 28.5 points. Yes, one of those was against a 16 seed, but they absolutely dominated a very solid Colorado State in the Round of 32. The Cardinals are looking like the best threat to win it all right now, even though they face some serious tests ahead just to get to the Final Four.

2. Michigan Wolverines - I was 100 percent wrong in my assessment of how the Wolverines would handle VCU's pressure in the third round. Not only did they handle the press, but their gameplan once they got into the halfcourt was astounding. If Mitch McGary can play like he did against VCU for the rest of the tournament, Michigan has the whole package. Combining his skill with the perimeter play of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III just doesn't seem fair.

3. Michigan State Spartans - The B1G Ten has looked very strong in the tournament, and Tom Izzo's Michigan State team again is playing great basketball in March. The post play provided by Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix has been phenomenal, and Izzo is getting great minutes out of freshman point guard Gary Harris. I'm not terribly worried about guard Keith Appling's shoulder injury, but Izzo will pull a rabbit out of his hat even if Appling isn't as effective.

4. Florida Gators - Florida looks like they have shaken off the rust from the end of the season when they struggled a little bit. Florida has won its two games handily and just needs to get past upstart Florida Gulf Coast to get to the Elite Eight. There is so much talent on that roster that it seems hard to imagine a scenario where they fall, but that was the story leading into all of FGCU's games. I think Kenny Boynton wills the Gators to victory, though. 

5. Duke Blue Devils - The Blue Devils are looking much better with Ryan Kelly back in the lineup, but they are just a victim of their seeding here. They are still legitimate Final Four contenders, especially with the emergence of Rasheed Sulaimon, but I don't know if they have enough to get past both Michigan State AND Louisville. Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee are playing at high levels though, so don't count out Duke.

6. Indiana Hoosiers - The Hoosiers escaped a tough game against Temple, and now they get another difficult matchup tonight in the Syracuse Orange. Indiana has the outside shooting on the roster necessary to combat Cuse's 2-3 zone. They also have a versatile big in Christian Watford that can effectively be used in the high post. How they defend some of Syracuse's high-volume scorers will be really key, though.

7. Ohio State Buckeyes - Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas make an incredible duo. We know Thomas can light it up on offense, but Craft has started to really make his presence known on the offensive side of the ball. He's still playing incredible defense, too, and the rest of their team defense should be enough to get Ohio State into the Final Four.

8. Marquette Golden Eagles - Yes, Marquette has only won their two tournament games by a combined three points, but you don't get credit for style in this tournament. Now that Marquette has dodged these close bullets, I think they have a great shot to reach the Elite Eight. They have the size and athleticism to match up with Miami. Vander Blue and Trent Lockett are both playing great basketball right now. 

9. Kansas Jayhawks - The Jayhawks have survived, but they haven't looked very great in the process. Aside from Jeff Withey and last game Travis Relaford, Kansas is struggling to get big production from the rest of the starting lineup. Ben McLemore needs to play better for Kansas to have a chance against Michigan, because they can't keep relying on Withey.

10. Oregon Ducks - Oregon is playing so much better than the 12 seed they were given. They have beaten up on Oklahoma State and then a sleeper Final Four team in Saint Louis. Arsalan Kazemi is rebounding like a mad man, Damyean Dotson is scoring, and their crisp play could pose a threat agains Louisville. I think the Cardinals will advance, but Oregon won't go down easily.  

11. Syracuse Orange - The Orange have moved past the negative press that bubbled up at the beginning of the tournament and look strong heading into the Sweet Sixteen. Syracuse has so many options offensively that they put a strain on opposing defenses. If James Southerland heats up, they could be primed to pull the upset. They have to keep Indiana out on the perimeter, even if they are hitting. The more Syracuse limits Cody Zeller's impact, the better their chances. 

12. Miami Hurricanes - Even though Reggie Johnson hasn't been playing well, losing his interior presence will have a definite impact on this team. Shane Larkin and Kenny Kadji can carry the load, but the supporting players come up with the plays that usually mean the difference between a win or a loss. Without Johnson, the stars will have to increase their production, which they are more than capable of.

13. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles - I want to have the Eagles higher, and frankly I should. This team has surprised everyone by pretty much controlling both their games against really good programs like Georgetown and San Diego State. Their style and pizzazz make them one of the most compelling teams to watch in the entire tournament. They certainly are going to give Florida everything they can handle on Friday

14. Arizona Wildcats - If you can tell by my bottom three, I'm not putting too much stock in the West region. The Wildcats are playing some of their best basketball of the season at the right time, but they have had the luxury of some pretty favorable matchups here. A solid Ohio State team will be just the antidote for that.

15. La Salle Explorers - The Explorers are one of the better stories, coming from the play-in game and outlasting the other higher-seeded A-10 teams to make their first Sweet Sixteen in school history. They are getting outstanding guard play that I think will be enough to overtake Wichita State's "play angry" defense and get to the Elite Eight, but I just don't see them being able to get past a team like Ohio State (or even Florida).

16. Wichita State Shockers - How can I have a team that knocked off a number one seed last in the rankings? For starters, even though it pains me to say it, Gonzaga was the weakest of the one seeds, and even so they needed to have one of their best games ever just to take down the Zags. I don't expect that same kind of shooting to keep up going forward, though their scrappiness might be enough to get them into the Elite Eight.

Don't miss out on the madness! Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the 2013 NCAA Tournament!

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