NCAA power rankings: It’s hard to argue with perfection
If you haven’t been absorbed by March Madness yet, it won’t take much longer. The NCAA tournament field is filling up with automatic qualifiers and play begins Wednesday in the major conference tournaments. By Sunday, you will have a bracket in your hand and can start making your picks.
The top team in our Power Rankings took care of business early and now Wichita State has a long wait before its NCAA opener. Florida, Wichita State, Villanova and Arizona have the inside track to the four No. 1 seeds ‘ at least right now. History tells us things can change quickly. Only the selection committee knows for sure.
Here’s a look at our Power Rankings as we head down the stretch in championship week:
The Shockers are perfect at 34-0 and have made it through the regular season and the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Six more wins in the NCAA tournament and they can wear their own version of those 40-0 Kentucky T-shirts.
The Gators can brag about their own version of perfection. Florida became the first team to finish 18-0 in the Southeastern Conference and they did it in style, by routing Kentucky on Saturday. Billy Donovan will be banking on his four talented seniors.
Villanova has remained consistent all season and would love nothing more than to spend most of March in NYC. The Wildcats are the top seed in the Big East tourney at Madison Square Garden and could return to The Mecca as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA East Region.
It’s easy to excuse Arizona for losing a little focus in that final Pac-12 loss to the Oregon Ducks. Sean Miller will have his team together and poised to win the conference tournament. Arizona remains a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tourney.
As usual, Rick Pitino has his team peaking at the right time. Pitino is one of the maestros of March and Louisville absolutely crushed UConn on Saturday to head into the American Athletic Conference tournament on a high note.
The Wolverines wrapped up the regular season with an 84-80 victory over Indiana. They take a five-game winning streak into the Big Ten tournament, which should be wild and wide open. Nik Stauskas must continue to lead.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski must be pleased that Jabari Parker and Rodney Harris decided to ramp up their offense at the same time. They got the job done Saturday against North Carolina, a win that should boost Duke’s seed in the NCAA tournament.
After all that hard work climbing to the top of the ACC, the Cavaliers slipped and fell at Maryland. Winning the ACC tournament would more than make up for that setback. Coach Tony Bennett has Virginia singing all the right tunes.
The Jayhawks won’t be the same without freshman center Joel Embiid protecting the rim, but coach Bill Self has depth inside. Kansas could still land a No. 2 seed with a decent showing in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo.
The Aztecs didn’t roll over and die when New Mexico pulled out to a big lead last weekend. Steve Fisher’s crew rallied for the Mountain West regular season title, their third in the last four years.
This is the time of year Orange fans usually flock to New York City for a Garden party. It’s time to build a new tradition down on Tobacco Road. Winning the ACC tournament the first time around would be an interesting debut.
Like everyone else, the Badgers found out how rotten life on the road can be when they ran into a highly-motivated Nebraska team in Lincoln. Wisconsin can still secure a No. 2 seed in the big dance with a good showing at the Big Ten tourney.
The Bearcats beat Memphis by scoring 97 points, then turned around and struggled to get past Rutgers with 70. When scoring is a problem, Sean Kilpatrick usually rides to the rescue. It’s a good thing the Bearcats play extraordinary defense.
Unless you are a Providence fan, you couldn’t help but enjoy Senior Night in Omaha as the McDermott family celebrated in style. Player of the Year Doug McDermott scored a career-high 45 points and joined the career 3,000-point club.
The Tar Heels couldn’t complete the sweep of Duke, losing at Cameron Indoor Stadium 93-81 in the regular season finale. But no one would be surprised if Roy Williams’ North Carolina team won the ACC tournament.
The Cyclones snapped their two-game skid with an 85-81 victory over Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State in overtime. Fred Hoiberg’s team opens the Big 12 tournament against Kansas State. They split their regular-season series.
In a conference that includes Kansas, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State, Lon Kruger may have done the best coaching job of all. The Sooners won five of their last six to grab the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tourney.
The American Athletic Conference had a great first season, with five teams in the national rankings and three of the best guards in the country. And the Tigers could steal all that thunder, especially with the conference tournament on their home court.
The Spartans almost closed out the regular season with a big win at Ohio State, but Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft got a little defensive and put an end to that. Tom Izzo’s team remains very, very dangerous in the postseason.
The games were over for the Huskies at this point last season and they sat and watched the postseason pass them by. Now they have a fresh start in the American Athletic Conference. First problem: Playing Memphis in Memphis.
The Lobos have lost just twice since Jan. 16. They dropped a 71-70 decision at Boise State on Feb. 12 and then couldn’t hold a big lead last weekend against San Diego State. The Lobos held the Aztecs to 44 points in a Feb. 22 victory at home.
Jordair Jett gave the Billikens an enormous lift with his last-second driving layup for a victory at UMass on Sunday. Saint Louis has won the Atlantic-10 regular season championship the past two seasons.
Larry Brown’s Mustangs had a tough task to close out the regular season and lost back-to-back games against Louisville and Memphis. SMU opens against Houston in the American Athletic Conference tournament.
The Rams are riding a four-game winning streak as they head into the Atlantic-10 tournament. VCU moved past George Washington, Saint Joseph’s and UMass for second place in the league standings, behind Saint Louis.
The Buckeyes hold opponents to an average of 59.1 points per games, seventh best in the nation. Ohio State came up big on defense to beat Michigan State 69-67. The long road in the Big Ten tournament begins Thursday against Purdue.