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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ranking the Sweet 16

I'm taking a break from movies to rank you the 16 remaining teams in the tournament. The rankings are what teams I think have the best shot to win it all, not win their next game or make it to the Final Four. That is why two of the top four teams are from the same region.

Oh, and speaking of sports don't worry. I'll be taking a look at the season in the coming days.

16. Washington State
Is WSU the worst team left in the tournament? No. The problem is they have the toughest road to win it all. The East region is loaded with this year. There's Tennessee, Louisville, and WSU's next opponent, North Carolina. WSU needs an exceptional game to beat the Heels. And even if they do, they have to play either Tennessee or Louisville in the regional final. That's a lot to ask for any team.

15. Villanova
Nova has been a great story this year, but they got to play Kansas. Considering they are a 12 seed, they should be happy they got this far and enjoy it. They won't be able to keep the run alive.

14. Western Kentucky
I'm still mad Western Kentucky beat Drake, but that's life. Now, they have to play UCLA next. I feel like UCLA is beatable, but is Western Kentucky good enough to stay with them? Like Villanova, they should be happy they got this far. They need a great game to pull it off.

13. Michigan State
The Spartans can't be complaining too much. They saw Miss State almost beat Memphis and that should give them confidence. I won't be surprised at all if they win. Still, this team is not a national title contender. The regional final against either Texas or Stanford should be the end of the line if they survive against Memphis.

12. Davidson
I had Davidson going to the Sweet 16 and have them losing to Wisconsin. Still, I could see them pulling it off. Curry is a great player to watch and Wisconsin doesn't score a lot. The problem is that Wisconsin is a great defensive team, so Davidson will need to keep turnovers low and shoot well. If they can pull off the upset, who knows how far they can go? San Antonio is possible, but win it all might be a stretch.

11. West Virginia
I like this team because it's being led by Bob Huggins. This team exceeded expectations this year and now they are in the Sweet 16. Plus, they get bonus points for knocking out Duke. They have a couple serious weapons led by Joe Alexander and this team could be dangerous. A trip to the regional final wouldn't be shocking and the way they are playing maybe even San Antonio.

10. Xavier
The game against West Virginia should be a good one. I personally like them to win and face possibly UCLA. Unfortunately, that will be the end of the road. Here's one thing the Musketeers have going for them. They have five guys who are averaging double figures. So, who do you defend? That presents problems for defenses and could carry them to San Antonio.

9. Tennessee
I like this team, but I don't like this team. I'm also worried about Chris Lofton's injury. The Vols could have been a number one seed, but instead got stuck in the same bracket as Louisville and UNC. That makes the possibility of surviving and going to San Antonio extremely difficult. And for that reason, that's why they are the so low on this list. I don't see them surviving.

8. Stanford
Stanford goes as far as the Lopez twins will let them. Brook and Robin are ridiculous. That play to beat Marquette was one of the best shots of the tournament. The game against Texas should be exciting and this team could be a sleeper to make it to San Antonio. They can beat anyone in their region, it's just a question if can play their game and dominate the paint. After that it could be tough since they are 0-2 against UCLA this year (possible Final Four opponent).

7. Memphis
I just really don't like this team. Are they good? Yes. Are they a legit contender? No. Their record is inflated after capitalizing on conference play in Conference USA. They also have horrible free throw shooting, which also cost them the game against Mississippi State. They do have two solid scorers in Douglas-Roberts and Rose, but is that enough? Here's the thing about Memphis, they do have a lot to prove since this team has failed to make the Final Four the last two years (Elite 8 each time). If that serves as motivation, then they could make it to at least San Antonio. They have to play a Michigan State team next, which is very beatable. Then, they have to deal with either Texas or Stanford, which should be a great game. Regardless, this team is the most likely number one seed to fail to reach the Final Four.

6. Texas
Kevin Durant may be long gone, but this team has gone further without the '07 POY. Part of that reason is the emergence of D.J. Augustin. Plus, they also have great shooting from A.J. Abrams. And, let's not forget about the double double average of Damion James. Their only issue to go the distance is if Augustin can carry them that far. They may rely on him too much and that could be a recipe for disaster. Still, I like them to go to San Antonio.

5. Louisville
Good ole Rick Pitino has himself a team that is really good. Question is whether they can survive the possibility of playing not only Tennessee, but North Carolina before making it to the Final Four. They do have four guys who are averaging double figures led by David Padgett. That gives them options. They also have yet to be really tested so far in the tournament and I really think a team like this needed a close game to prepare for this upcoming weekend.

4. Wisconsin
I like this team because they play defense and they play it very well. Ask Michael Beasley and Kansas State. They shot 39.6% from the field for 55 points. Hell, Fullerton shot 36.2% from the field for 56. Their next opponent is Davidson, which could be an interesting game considering how well Curry has played. I just really believe defense wins championships and that's why this team is dangerous.

3. Kansas
It's hard not to like Kansas. This team is just really deep and well rounded. They can do a little bit of everything and that makes them dangerous. They have great guard play from Chalmers and Rush. Then, they can work you inside with Arthur and Jackson. They got a tough task of possibly playing Wisconsin in the regional final, but they should make it to San Antonio. Although, anything less than a championship will probably be disappointing.

2. UCLA
The Bruins had a little scare against Texas A&M, but sometimes that is a good thing. This team is still very good and has arguably the easiest trip to the Final Four out of all the one seeds. Plus, they get to avoid playing either UNC or Kansas until at least the title game. The Bruins are also very balanced with Kevin Love and Darren Collison. That should be enough to get them to San Antonio and maybe win another national championship.

1. North Carolina
Yeah, I'm a Tar Heel fan (since '98), but they look great this tournament. Arkansas isn't a horrible team and the Heels blew them out of the water. They should handle WSU and prepare for an exciting regional final. Louisville scares me more than Tennessee, but both teams will be a challenge. The key to North Carolina is they have a lot of weapons starting with national player of the year, Tyler Hansbrough. Plus, they have the likes of Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. They are the number one overall seed and I still think they are the team to beat in the tournament.

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