Sweet 16 power rankings: Louisville still the favorite, Duke and Kansas not far behind

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Wichita State, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast are three names have crashed the final 16 at the NCAA Tournament, but Louisville and Duke remain the favorites entering Thursday.

Things can change pretty quickly in the NCAA Tournament. Just a week ago, Gonzaga was a title contender, Michigan was ripe for the picking and nobody knew where Dunk City was located.

Seeding goes out the window at this point, as just two wins separate each remaining team from the Final Four. Still, let's look at how the tournament should be re-seeded, you know, if they did that sort of thing.

1. Louisville Cardinals

While other higher seeds have struggled, Louisville has made the committee look smart to give it the No. 1 overall seed in the field. The Cardinals have won both of their games by at least 26 points, and Russ Smith is the early favorite for the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. This is still your front-runner.

2. Duke Blue Devils

The bad news for Louisville is that Duke is playing just as well at the bottom of the region. Already an offensive juggernaut, the scary part of the Blue Devils' tournament run is how they looked defensively, as they held Creighton, who averages 75.4 points per game, to just 50 points in the third round.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

Bill Self's crew sort of sleepwalked through its first three halves of basketball in this year's tournament but turned it on in the second half against North Carolina to outscore the Tar Heels by 21 points. Jeff Withey is doing his Thomas Robinson impression, and if Ben McLemore can get things going, watch out.

4. Indiana Hoosiers

Were it not for some stellar late-game execution against Temple, the Hoosiers would be sitting at home as one of the biggest flops in NCAA Tournament history. Instead, Indiana lives to see another day, and with so much scoring depth, it seems almost impossible that they will replicate that 33.9 percent shooting and 52 points the Owls held them to.

5. Florida Gators

The NCAA Tournament has been a breeze so far for Florida, which is coming off a game against Minnesota where they shot nearly 57 percent from the field. While Florida Gulf Coast is the tournament darling, the fact of the matter is the Gators play a 15-seed in the Sweet 16, and that bodes well for their quest for a Final Four bid.

6. Michigan Wolverines

It seems as though getting out of the Big Ten is exactly what the Wolverines needed, as they have dominated their first two games after sputtering down the stretch of conference play. The most important part of the 25-point thrashing of VCU was the emergence of freshman Mitch McGary, who finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

7. Michigan State Spartans

To get the Sweet 16, Michigan State played a strong first half against Valparaiso and a strong second half against Memphis. The rest of both of those games are surely keeping Tom Izzo up at night. The Spartans will need to piece together a complete effort the rest of the way, as they have perhaps the toughest road to the national title game.

8. Ohio State Buckeyes

Regardless of where they rank here, the Buckeyes have the easiest path to the Final Four. That's a good thing, as Ohio State's much-celebrated defense didn't exactly shut down Iowa State. In that win, Aaron Craft had 18 points and a game winning three-pointer, and ultimately, his ability to support Deshaun Thomas offensively will dictate how far this team can go.

9. Miami Hurricanes

The way the Hurricanes got to the Sweet 16 doesn't exactly give confidence to anyone who had them heading any further. Miami needed questionable officiating and clutch shooting from Shane Larkin to get past Illinois, who was probably seeded too high in the first place. The team's toughness will be in question as it prepares to face rugged Marquette.

10. Wichita State Shockers

By dominating Pittsburgh and shooting the lights out against top seed Gonzaga, the Shockers not only have a spot in the Sweet 16, but they are the higher seed in the game. Defense has been the key, as neither opponent shot better than 35.6 percent from the field. Things are shaping up nicely for Wichita State to cement their name in Cinderella history next to George Mason, Butler and VCU.

11. Syracuse Orange

Despite two easy victories, Syracuse is a tough team to judge at this point because its level of competition has been so bad in the NCAA Tournament. One certainty, though, is that it cannot go on a 12-minute field goal drought like it did against California if it expects to beat Indiana.

12. Oregon Ducks

What seed Oregon started the tournament as is a moot point, as it won the two games it needed to in order to make the Sweet 16. Damyean Dotson, the best freshman you've never heard of, has carried the team with a total of 40 points in wins over Oklahoma State and Saint Louis.

13. Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats haven't exactly faced the toughest schedule, but in wins over Belmont and Harvard, they have executed at the level that was expected of them when they were ranked No. 12 to start the season. With 50 points in two games, Mark Lyons has been phenomenal and the primary reason their two wins have been so easy.

14. Marquette Golden Eagles

It took two nail-biting games, but Marquette has made it to the Sweet 16. Surprisingly, the tournament's worst long-range shooting team relied on clutch three-point shooting to get this far. With its tough nature, the Golden Eagles might not have the best team in the field, but it will take their opponent's best effort to knock them out.

15. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

Dunk City is now the capital of the basketball universe. Playing an almost perfect draw for their abilities, the Eagles have looked like an offensive machine against slower-paced Georgetown and San Diego State, scoring at least 78 points in each game. Regardless of how this story finishes up, it's the best one of this year's tournament.

16. La Salle Explorers

Overshadowed by Florida Gulf Coast, the Explorers have had a magical run of their own. After winning its First Four game, La Salle's two most recent wins have been two-point decisions that were decided in the final seconds. With the West region in shambles, a Final Four appearance is completely plausible.

More in College Basketball:

Florida Gulf Coast makes history by advancing to the Sweet 16

The best and worst of Sunday's Madness

Printable bracket for March Madness

Miami photobombs, dances, does it all

Full coverage of March Madness

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