Rick Pitino's Louisville team began the NCAA Tournament as the favorite -- and nothing has changed.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Don't look for a fresh Top 25 in college basketball this week. Only 16 teams are playing -- in the tournament that matters. That creates a perfect opportunity to take the remaining contenders and rank them in order of their chances of winning the NCAA Tournament.
Feel free to disagree – or agree.
1. Louisville – Eight straight wins over NCAA Tournament teams, the last seven by double figures? Works for me, especially considering Rick Pitino's smashing 10-0 record in the Sweet Sixteen.
2. Ohio State – I know the Buckeyes needed help from the whistles and an Aaron Craft semi-prayer in Dayton. I also know they wouldn't trade their path with anybody. The Big Ten Tournament was more daunting than what Thad Matta's team will see in L.A.
3. Florida -- First in Pomeroy, second in Sagarin and third in Dr. Bo's confidence because of my faith in Billy Donovan -- as long as Mike Rosario listens.
4. Indiana – If the Hoosiers can handle Syracuse and Miami, any national semifinal game will seem like a breather. Tom Crean's focus on team-building drills paid off in Dayton.
5. Kansas – Something is missing from Bill Self's team, and I'm guessing it's an elite point guard.
6. Miami – You don't win the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, plus two NCAA Tournament games, with tricks. Hurricane basketball has officially surpassed Hurricane football.
7. Syracuse – Everybody remembers the second-half of the Louisville game. Everybody forgets the Orange have won five of six and were once 18-1. Perimeter size creates issues for IU.
8. Wichita State – I'm going to try to forget that the Shockers lost to Evansville twice this winter and remember that their next opponent is LaSalle. That's a wonderful thing to remember.
9. Michigan State – Put the Spartans in the West or South regionals and I move them up at least four spots.
10. Duke – Read what I just said about Michigan State. It also applies to Mike Krzyzewski's team.
11. Michigan – John Beilein has finally realized Mitch McGary has to play major minutes, but will McGary realize he can't commit silly fouls? The Wolverines' fate depends on that.
12. Arizona – I hear the cries that the Wildcats are being dismissed too easily, but three losses to UCLA are a major warning flag to me.
13. Marquette – Miracle against Davidson. Semi-miracle against Butler. I'm not sure where Buzz Williams gets his miracle dust but he'd better pack several jars for Washington D.C.
14. LaSalle – The Explorers aren't playing Bruce Weber or Marshall Henderson this week.
15. Oregon – I know the Ducks have been a dangerous team when their point guard is healthy. I also know that traveling across three time zones and more than 2,200 miles to play the hottest team in the country is something they haven't done all season.
16. Florida Gulf Coast – The Sweet Sixteen is usually a cruel place for first weekend media darlings. Nice getting to know you. I like your spirit, story and the way you dance.