Power 16 Part IV: Selection Sunday is Coming

Once being separated from the rest of the field, the top four teams in the country no longer look invincible. Badger Nation's experts way their opinions in this week's edition of the power 16.

Can you smell that sound in the air? It the sound of fans storming the courts, the smell of upsets and the bursting of bubbles. Yes, March Madness is just a little over a week away.

While teams like Belmont, Creighton, Davidson, Eastern Kentucky, Gonzaga, Niagara, Penn, VCU and Winthrop have already punched their tickets to the dance, other teams are squarely sweating on the bubble. For these 16 teams, however, Selection Sunday will not be stressful as it will for others.

Badger Nation hauls out the experts one more time to crunch the numbers, make their choices and rank their top 16 teams in the nation. Has Kansas continued to rise? Will Wisconsin hault their slide? Can the top four teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack one more time?

As we have come to learn over the years, anything can happen in the month of March.

Badger Nation's Top 16

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. UCLA

4. Wisconsin

5. Florida

6. North Carolina

7. Texas A&M

8. Memphis

9. Georgetown

10. Washington State

11. Louisville

12. Texas

13. Nevada

14. Pittsburgh

15. Southern Illinois

16. Maryland

Marquette, Notre Dame, Oregon, Virginia and Winthrop also received votes.

Jeff Grimyser, Badger Nation Hoops Writer

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. Wisconsin

4. UCLA

5. North Carolina

6. Florida

7. Memphis

8. Washington State

9. Louisville

10. Texas A&M

11. Pittsburgh

12. Georgetown

13. Nevada

14. Texas

15. Oregon

16. Southern Illinois

Ohio State has beaten every team they should have so far. No one knows whether their inexperienced freshman will hurt them or not in the tournaments, but they are the best for now. Kansas moves up to No. 2 with their impressive run of eight straight wins, by an average of 22 points, against the Big XII. Wisconsin stayed the course by avenging a tough loss that they needed to win with Kammron Taylor's clutch 3-pointer against Michigan State. UCLA's double-digit loss to Washington drops them down a few spots. Memphis is ranked higher on other polls, but to me they still haven't beaten anyone impressive in a month. Florida and North Carolina would do just as well, if not better than Memphis, in the Conference USA. Both rank higher because of experience and difficulty of schedule.

Georgetown has won 12 of 13 against the Big East with two 18-point wins against ranked teams in the stretch. Louisville shot up on my board because they have beaten two top teams on the road, Marquette and Pittsburgh. Conversely, Pittsburgh has recent road losses against Marquette and Georgetown. Oregon has one of the best point guards in the country and has won three straight. Southern Illinois' only problem is playing in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Adam Hoge, Daily Cardinal Hoops Writer

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. Wisconsin

4. UCLA

5. Florida

6. North Carolina

7. Memphis

8. Texas A&M

9. Georgetown

10. Louisville

11. Southern Illinois

12. Texas

13. Notre Dame

14. Pittsburgh

15. Washington State

16. Marquette

Talk about a shakeup in the Power 16. Eleven of the 16 teams I had ranked last week suffered losses. Of the teams that didn't, only Louisville and Memphis had double-digit wins—and the Tigers only beat Southern Methodist by three points on Saturday.

Ohio State should have lost, Wisconsin could have lost and Kansas probably doesn't beat Texas if Kevin Durant doesn't get hurt. I don't want to put Wisconsin ahead of UCLA, but the Bruins lost by 10 and you hope Taylor's game winner gets the Badgers back on track offensively. Florida and North Carolina both rebounded against rivals but did it at home.

Then there is the Big East. Georgetown and Louisville sit No. 9 and 10 in these rankings but No. 1 and 2 in their conference. Notre Dame has won five in a row and makes the biggest jump this week. Pittsburgh's comeback against Marquette came up short even though the Eagles were without Jerel McNeal for the game and Dominic James for most of the second half. The Panthers probably should have won the game, but Marquette gets back into the Top 16.

The bottom line: Any of these 16 teams could make the Final Four, but none of them are a sure-bet. Good luck with your brackets, you will need it this year.

Eric C. Krueger, Badger Herald Hoops Writer

1. Kansas

2. UCLA

3. Ohio State

4. North Carolina

5. Wisconsin

6. Florida

7. Memphis

8. Texas A&M

9. Georgetown

10. Nevada

11. Texas

12. Washington State

13. Louisville

14. Southern Illinois

15. Maryland

16. Oregon

No, I'm not jumping on the Kansas bandwagon. As I've said in the past, teams shouldn't just get bumped up after others' losses, and Kansas is the only team in last week's top eight to have earned it. While a case could be made for Ohio State to be this week's top team, they didn't win Saturday at Michigan, the Wolverines lost. A 10-1 OSU run to finish the game and a miss on the front end of a one-and-one by your senior leader that could have tied the game with less than a minute to play: Can you think of a more characteristic way for that group of Michigan seniors to go out?

With Brian Butch Wisconsin is without question worthy of a 1-seed; without him, the Badgers aren't. While Florida may have righted the ship with their 23 point thrashing of Kentucky, the fact that the Gators have managed to lose four games with the talent they have is almost as unbelievable as Tom Izzo winning 21 games with Drew Neitzel and a bunch of intramural players.

Washington State has the coaching and the discipline to beat good teams and not lose to bad teams. Unfortunately for Tony Bennett's squad, they're one year away from having enough talent to beat top-tier teams. Pittsburgh falls from the list after losing to a Marquette team who played without their best player (and I'm not talking about James' leg cramps).

Zach Kukkonen, Daily Cardinal Sports Editor

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. Wisconsin

4. UCLA

5. Florida

6. North Carolina

7. Texas A&M

8. Georgetown

9. Memphis

10. Pittsburgh

11. Washington State

12. Louisville

13. Nevada

14. Oregon

15. Marquette

16. Texas

Not much shifting near the bottom this week, although Louisville has certainly made its mark in the last few weeks, dispatching of Marquette and Pittsburgh while clinching the No. 2 spot in an extremely tough Big East. UCLA nearly loses its No. 1 seed with a loss to Washington, but Florida and North Carolina also stumbled with losses.

Although Georgetown lost to Syracuse, winning the Big East in itself should garner them at least a No. 2 seed. Texas A&M missed a golden opportunity to get close to a No. 1 seed at Texas, as a win might have catapulted them into the top five in the polls. Ohio State and Kansas appear to be near-locks for No. 1 seeds provided they don't fold in their conference tournaments, but it seems the bottom two spots are still wide open.

Michael Poppy, Badger Herald Sports Editor

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. Wisconsin

4. UCLA

5. Florida

6. Memphis

7. Texas A&M

8. North Carolina

9. Washington State

10. Southern Illinois

11. Georgetown

12. Pittsburgh

13. Nevada

14. Texas

15. Virginia

16. Marquette

Ben Voelkel, Badger Herald Assistant Sports Editor

1. Ohio State

2. Kansas

3. UCLA

4. Wisconsin

5. Texas A&M

6. Florida

7. Memphis

8. Georgetown

9. North Carolina

10. Washington State

11. Nevada

12. Texas

13. Maryland

14. Louisville

15. Southern Illinois

16. Winthrop

Ohio State won the Big Ten and is playing the best basketball of any team in the country right now. Rightfully so, they were awarded the easiest path to a Big Ten tournament championship and have the inside track to the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. While Wisconsin would likely have to go through Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State to win a tournament title, the Buckeyes would just have to avoid a sizable upset against Michigan, Iowa or Illinois before the championship game.

Elsewhere, Kansas is red-hot as well as poll newcomers Maryland and Louisville. Winthrop, champion of the Big South, makes an appearance at number 16 and is a team not to forget when trying to pick out the one or two dark horse teams to make a deep run in the tournament.

Benjamin Worgull, Badger Nation Senior Contributor

1. Kansas

2. UCLA

3. Ohio State

4. Texas A&M

5. Wisconsin

6. North Carolina

7. Memphis

8. Florida

9. Louisville

10. Winthrop

11. Georgetown

12. Texas

13. Washington State

14. Southern Illinois

15. Pittsburgh

16. Maryland

Kansas is playing the best basketball in the country right now and with UCLA's unexpected loss in Seattle, earns my number one seed. UCLA stays number two, however, as they still are a better team than Ohio State.

Acie Law IV is a one-man wrecking crew for the Aggies, as A&M will be a tough out in any round of the tournament. Without Brian Butch, Wisconsin looked frazzled on Saturday, much like they did without Marcus Landry and Greg Stiemsma last season. Could Wisconsin's 06-07 season end like their disappointing 05-06 ended?

Louisville continues to improve week in and week out, blasting Seton Hall to clinch the number two seed in the Big East tournament. Winthrop took care of business to win the Big South and will be a tough out for any first weekend opponent.


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