Villanova celebrates its Big East title

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NCAA Tournament Power Rankings: Key Virginia injury creates opportunity in wide-open field

John Tomase
March 15, 2018 - 9:58 am
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By Danny Dragin

The NCAA Tournament has arrived, and that means WEEI.com's Danny Dragin is here to break down the top 25 teams in the field. Virginia looked like the favorites before an injury hurt its chances. Who will win? Let's find out.

1. Michigan State (29–4)

There has been a lot non-basketball drama surrounding Michigan State, specifically coach Tom Izzo. The Spartans are one of the only teams with two players who will most likely be drafted in the top ten -- Jaren Jackson Jr. and Miles Bridges.

2. Villanova (30–4)

Villanova is another team with the potential to have two players drafted in the top 10 in Naismith finalist Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. And while it has only lost four times this season, three came in February.

3. Virginia (31–2)

No. 1 overall seed Virginia has easily been the most consistent team this year, but the loss of sixth man De'Andre Hunter will hurt immensely. Kyle Guy certainly has a lot more on his shoulders now.

4. Xavier (28–5)

Xavier is led by Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura who were both part of 2017's Cinderella No. 11 seed, which reached the Elite Eight.

5. Kansas (27–7)

Devonte' Graham has stepped up in a big way despite his struggles scoring. The point guard is more than a floor general commanding exactly what happens on the floor -- he also knows how to show up in extremely big moments.

6. Duke (26–7)

Another year, another Duke team with the talent to win it all. Grayson Allen and Marvin Bagley will lead the Blue Devils who face the specter of Michigan State in the Sweet Sixteen.

7. Purdue (28–6)

In a game where shooting is becoming more and more of a necessity, Purdue might have the cream of the crop in Dakota Mathias.

8. Cincinnati (30-4)

Cincinnati managed to draw the two seed in the Southern bracket but is well aware it could lose at any moment. "The seeding is great and everything, but every team in this tournament is good," Jacob Evans III told reporters.

9. Gonzaga (27–4)

The Zags are riding a red-hot 14-game win streak. The backcourt of Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins complement the skill set of Killian Tillie down low.

10. Kentucky (24–10)

John Calipari has proved time and time again he can win in the tournament. But the Wildcats face off with Davidson in the first round without Jarred Vanderbilt, which could be extremely problematic.

11. North Carolina (25–10)

The defending champs are eager to repeat and still have the players from last year who can remember exactly what it was like to win, like Joel Berry.

12. Arizona (27–7)

DeAndre Ayton might be the most impressive player in the country -- he plays like DeAndre Jordan with a jump shot. But the drama the Wildcats have endured surrounding illegal payments could be too much.

13. Michigan (28–7)

Michigan doesn't turn the ball over very much, but dismal free throw shooting could hurt the Wolverines.

14. Wichita State (25-7)

Wichita is definitely a sleeper. Coach Gregg Marshall is one of only five head coaches who have won at least one game in the tournament in each of the last five years.

15. Ohio State (24–8)

Andrew Dakich said this week that he was rooting for Michigan because he wanted to have a rivalry game in the Elite Eight.

16. West Virginia (24–10)

Although it seems like Bob Huggins is experiencing some sort of near death experience every time his team takes the floor, West Virginia could surprise.

17. Tennessee (25–8)

Admiral Schofield and Grant Williams are two of the most consistent scorers in the country.

18. Auburn (25–7)

Despite losing two of its best players, Auburn has been able to stay relevant, proving it can go toe to toe with just about anyone.

19. Clemson (23-9)

Despite missing its best player in Donte Grantham, the Tigers have managed to stay in contention.

20. Texas Tech (24–9)

Keenan Evans has been superb offensively, but Texas Tech's defense is what has really stood out and is what could take it to the next level.

21. Houston (26-7)

Rob Gray is a great scorer for the Cougars, who are making their first tourney appearance since 2010.

22. Miami (22-9)

Sophomore star Bruce Brown is back in uniform but hasn't yet been cleared to play for a team fighting a lot of injury issues.

23. TCU (21–11)

TCU has a unique squad that finished fifth in the Big 12. Four players on the current roster weren't even born the last time the school went Dancing, in 1998.

24. Florida (20-12)

Florida has been extremely inconsistent, beating good teams like Cincinnati and losing to bad ones like Ole Miss.

25. Alabama (19-15)

Collin Sexton is bordering on super freshman status and he could definitely make a name for himself this month.

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