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Sweet 16 Gambling? 2014 NCAA Tournament Power Rankings

2014 NCAA Tourney Handicapping

The first weekend of action in the NCAA Tournament has provided many thrilling moments. Upsets were anything but rare, and a few Cinderellas made an appearance. [ad-4468020]

We’re down to the Sweet 16, and now have a clearer picture of what to expect from each of the programs.

Here are the power rankings entering the Sweet 16.

1. Florida Gators (1st-seed, South Region)

The Gators have proven an ability to close out games with the best of them, largely thanks to the play of standout point guard Scottie Wilbekin. With the way the team sells out at the defensive end, they’re a tough opponent for any team.

Assuming UCLA doesn’t pull off the Sweet 16 upset, a double-digit seed will await them in the Elite Eight.

2. Louisville Cardinals (4th-seed, Midwest Region)

The Cardinals have proven detractors wrong by cruising through their tournament schedule. A date with top-seed Wichita State wasn’t meant to be, but the Cardinals draw an emotional matchup against Kentucky.

Russ Smith was ineffective in the team’s last game, yet they still brushed off Saint Louis with ease. It’s scary to think how good they can be when he’s on his game.

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3. Arizona Wildcats (1st-seed, West Region)

This ranking is less about the Wildcats and more about their path to the Final Four. While teams in the East Region will duke it out with one another, Arizona’s path seems smoother. San Diego State is certainly underrated but has lost to Arizona twice in the last two years, and Wisconsin has difficulties against higher seeds.

4. Iowa State Cyclones (3rd-seed, East Region)

With Michigan State and Virginia throwing punches in the late game on Friday, Iowa State has a simpler route to the Elite Eight, even though UConn is not to be overlooked. Shabazz Napier has been masterful, though the Cyclones are one of the few tournament teams that can match his scoring.

Point guard DeAndre Kane is becoming a star, while the team’s secondary scoring options have been consistently great.

5. Michigan State Spartans (4th-seed, East Region)

It’s been a waiting game for the Spartans all season. Specifically, waiting for injured players to return to the court. Now the team is healthy, and we’re seeing a motivated Tom Izzo squad thoroughly outplaying opponents in March once again.

6. Michigan Wolverines (2nd-seed, Midwest Region)
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The Wolverines have one of the better offenses remaining in the tournament, and a favorable draw in the Sweet 16 against a double-digit seed in Tennessee that’s already played three tournament games. The Wolverines can match any team’s scoring pace when Nik Stauskas is feeling it.

7. Virginia Cavaliers (1st-seed, East Region)

The Cavaliers deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done this season, and still haven’t lost a tournament game on the year, though they drew a tough East Region slate, and that’s what has them ranked this low. The team’s defensive play has been spectacular, but there is still a question of how they’ll handle playing from behind.

8. San Diego State Aztecs (4th-seed, West Region)

Getting by Arizona won’t be a walk in the park, but Arizona’s arguably one of the more vulnerable top-seeds at the moment. After that, the path clears pretty favorably for the Aztecs, if they can pull that upset off, and that’s a big if.

9. Kentucky Wildcats (8th-seed, Midwest Region)

The preseason No. 1 certainly has talent up and down the roster, and a favorable schedule if they can get past Louisville. Julius Randle needs to be more consistent if they’re going to do that, but boy have the Harrison twins been great.

10. Stanford Cardinal (10th-seed, South Region)

Drawing a double-digit seed in the Sweet 16 is beyond favorable for the Cardinal.

The team lucked out with Dayton doing much of the heavy-lifting for them, knocking off Ohio State and Syracuse. After Dayton, Stanford will likely draw Florida, who they match up quite well against given their ability to play in the paint.

Should Florida go down, the Cardinal have split their matchups with UCLA this season.

11. Baylor Bears (6th-seed, West Region)
12. Connecticut Huskies (7th-seed, East Region)
13. Wisconsin Badgers (2nd-seed, West Region)
14. UCLA Bruins (4th-seed, South Region)
15. Tennessee Volunteers (11th-seed, Midwest Region)
16. Dayton Flyers (11th-seed, South Region)

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