With the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament behind us, it’s time to pick the sweetest of the sweet. Here’s my Sweet 16 power poll.
1. Florida: The Gators looked sensational in the second half against Pittsburgh and have a favorable draw.
2. Louisville: The defending-champion Cardinals continue to peak at the right time, winning 14 of their last 15.
3. Arizona: The Wildcats look fierce defensively. As with UF, I can forgive a lackluster opening game since the bounce back was so impressive.
4. Virginia: The Cavaliers have the nation’s top scoring defense.
5. Michigan State: The Spartans continue to try and build chemistry. Could they start peaking now?
6. Kentucky: The ultra-talented Wildcats are clicking and dangerous.
7. Michigan: The Wolverines are starting to find their groove shooting from long range.
8. Connecticut: The Huskies upset Villanova, despite early foul trouble for guard Shabazz Napier. That’s a huge plus.
9. Baylor: The Bears won their first two games by a combined 44 points.
10. Wisconsin: The Oregon win exposed why the Badgers aren’t Final Four material.
11. UCLA: The Bruins have improved, but are here largely because they played a 13 and 12 seed.
12. Dayton: The Flyers have the two most impressive combined wins, Ohio State and Syracuse.
13. San Diego State: This team doesn’t have enough offense and took advantage of a favorable draw.
14. Tennessee: The play-in game survivors don’t come in last thanks to a powerful inside game.
15. Iowa State: The Cyclones lost forward Georges Niang to a broken foot. They managed to edge North Carolina, but won’t last much longer.
16. Stanford: The Cardinal took advantage of Kansas playing without star center Joel Embiid.