Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ranking the Sweet Sixteen teams still standing


B-dubs, B-dubs, please ... leave the nicknaming to the professionals. Although you're right, Kidd does need to get one of those Rascals, and that Mark Cuban continues to insist the Kidd-for-Harris deal did not set his franchise back 10 years (minimum) is one this country's greatest cases of denial today.

But anyway...B-dubs has offered up who he thinks will win each Sweet 16 game and ranked the regions from best (Harris, the Badger) to worst (Kidd, the wife-beater), so I'll take a slightly different approach. Here's a Power 16, ranking the teams based on how they're playing right now. Consider my personal pick for each game based on these rankings (i.e. since Purdue is 4 and UCheat is 5, yes, that means I think the Boilers will beat the UConMen. Er, Huskies.).

Here we go, from Kidd to Harris:

16) Arizona. Totally agree with B-Dubs: they've done nothing of substance in this tournament except send a thank-you note to Wake Forest for rolling over for Cleveland State. The Wildcats are talented individually, but are still the same team that finished 1-5.

15) Xavier. The worst 4-seed entering last weekend, and the Musketeers were shaky in both victories before pulling away.

14) Kansas. Cole Aldrich? You're coming at me with Cole Aldrich? Make no mistake, Brandon Rush ain't walking through that door. Neither is Mario Chalmers, Darrell Arthur, Darnell Jackson or the great Sasha Kaun.

13) Gonzaga. Juuuuust made it past Western Kentucky, and I don't buy any theories about how the Adam Morrisons can get by North Carolina. Should be an easy third-rounder for the Heels.

12) Villanova. Couldn't the Wildcats have humored us and not destroyed American U. after taunting us with a potential upset of gargantuan proportions? Party poopers.

11) Michigan State. I believe you never really know a team until you sit behind its bench for an entire game, which I did at the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. And weirdly, I found a weird vibe among the Spartan players, like they don't love each other the way they should. I still think they'll get by Rock Chalk, but they stand little chance against Louisville.

10) Missouri. Ladies and gentlemen (and Memphis), meet Forty Minutes of Hell. Tigers-Tigers will be the best game of the Sweet 16...and you gotta love any matchup where the two teams share a nickname.

9) Duke. Not sure what to make of Da Dukies...I mean, how do they constantly win with so little athleticism? But Coach K knows best, I suppose. If Henderson, Singler and Scheyer stay hot, Duke can win it all...but Nova could be dangerous too, and Duke is no stranger to early exits.

8) Pittsburgh. DeJuan Blair, thou art behemoth.

7) Oklahoma. Blake Griffin, you too. And not too shabby with the ladies, either.

6) Syracuse. America's Team, as far as I'm concerned. I get that people don't like Eric Devendorf, but the very cool friendship between Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris cancels out the likeability factor. And you've gotta pull for a team that wins in six OTs, any day.

5) Connecticut. OK, you got me, they're obviously playing better than this. But like I outlined above, I think Purdue will win the game, so I have to put the Huskies below the Boilers. I will say this, though: the Nate Miles thing will not be a distraction. Methinks these old, old allegations have nothing to do with Hasheem Thabeet dunking or blocking a basketball.

4) Purdue. Here's why I think Purdue will win: they haven't been healthy all year. They're peaking at the PERFECT time. It's far and away the deepest team in the Big Ten, and among the deepest in the country. And most of all, per my Michigan State theory, they LO-O-O-O-OVE each other to death. I like the Boilers to crash the Elite Eight.
3) Memphis. But Purdue will meet its match there. Memphis is playing with a massive chip on its shoulder. Hey Coach Cal, just make sure they hit their free throws when it counts, eh?

2) Louisville. I don't think the Cardinals have played like the second-best team in the field, but they will look like it after yawning past the patsies awaiting them in Indianapolis.

1) North Carolina. Take some Aleve for that toe, Ty. I love the Heels, but they're a different team without their point guard at full strength.
To save you from tallying it up based on the rankings, I've got Louisville and Michigan State, North Carolina and Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Duke, and Purdue and Memphis advancing to the Elite Eight. Enjoy the games tonight and Friday.


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