NCAA Tournament 2014: Power rankings for the 64-team field

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

There are now just 64 teams in the NCAA field. Here is how they should be ranked, in order of team strength and which teams can win the national title. SB Nation 2014 NCAA March Madness Coverage

Wins by Cal Poly and Tennessee on Wednesday night finally shrunk the 2014 NCAA Tournament field to the customary 64 teams

The front-runners

1) Florida Gators

Strengths: Defense, offense, balance, toughness, resilience
Weaknesses: Free-throw shooting, perimeter defense, lack of go-to scorer
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Florida has the nation's most balanced and versatile team, and that team is also full of seniors burned by failures to advance to the Final Four from the Elite Eight in the last three NCAA Tournaments. As driven as Florida's been during its school-record 26-game winning streak, which includes wins over Kansas and Memphis and three wins each over Kentucky and Tennessee, the Gators might actually have another gear for the NCAA Tournament.

2) Louisville Cardinals

Strengths: Explosiveness on both sides of the ball, Russ Smith
Weaknesses: Depth, free-throw shooting
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Louisville's beaten up on a lot of bad teams in the American Athletic Conference, but it's also been birth-of-the-universe hot for the better part of a month, since the Cardinals had a week off in February because of a game being cancelled for snow. The rest probably helped a bit; having Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell on one team helps a bit more.

3) Wichita St. Shockers

Strengths: Balance, experience, chip-on-the-shoulder-ness
Weaknesses: Size, interior defense
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Yes, Wichita State can win the national title, and yes, the Shockers are in the front pack of contenders for the national title, despite playing no team better than Tennessee this season. And the concerns that linger about how the relatively undersized Shockers will play against high-major teams with towering lineups could well be banished if they whip Kentucky in the Round of 32. Unfortunately, Wichita State will probably have to do that and beat Louisville to make the Elite Eight, thanks to a ridiculously difficult bracket.

4) Arizona Wildcats

Strengths: Defense, defense, defense, height, defense, and also defense
Weaknesses: Free-throw shooting, shooting, depth
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Arizona likely doesn't have the offense to beat either Florida or Louisville in a game where either other team is hot, but the Wildcats have the nation's best defense, could prevent either Florida or Louisville from getting hot, and have more NBA talent than any other surefire title contender.

The contenders

5) Virginia Cavaliers

Strengths: Defense, discipline, guard play
Weaknesses: Athleticism, three-point shooting, reliance on pace
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Virginia's better than 2013 Miami, the last ACC team to win the conference's regular-season and tournament titles and enter the NCAA Tournament flying under the radar despite a top seed, and the Cavaliers got hot on offense late in the year to match a defense that had been stifling all season. But that defense is susceptible to teams that can shoot, and there are a few of those in Virginia's difficult bracket.

6) Kansas Jayhawks

Strengths: Elite talent, length, no one else having Andrew Wiggins
Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, not having a healthy Joel Embiid
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Fully healthy Kansas has a claim to the "best team in America" title, but injuries and inconsistency have left Jayhawks fans alternately frustrated by the team on the court and frustrated that Joel Embiid's not on it. If the Jayhawks can get by New Mexico in the "Third Round," Embiid should return, but don't expect him to play this weekend ... and, thus, expect Kansas to get a challenge from the Lobos.

7) Michigan Wolverines

Strengths: Offense, offense, offense, Nik Stauskas
Weaknesses: Defense, especially interior defense
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Sweet 16 upset

These Wolverines might be slightly better on offense than last year's version, the one that shot down everything it saw en route to running into a Louisville team that was simply hotter and better for one night in an instant-classic NCAA Tournament final, but they're not nearly as good on defense, and could get eaten alive by good post play. Still, a lenient draw makes the Wolverines' path to the Elite Eight very clear.

8) Michigan St. Spartans

Strengths: Balance, experience, health, the invaluable esteem of every pundit
Weaknesses: Consistency, defense, inability to draw fouls
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

The Spartans became a chic Final Four and national title pick by delivering on some of their early-season promise in an impressive Big Ten Tournament and getting handed a beautiful draw that features Virginia, the least scary No. 1 seed, and no teams Sparty won't be favored over. This isn't your older brother's Michigan State, though, given its reliance on the three and inability to draw fouls; a jump-shooting bunch can go cold and lose a game relatively easily, a concern when the only way to win a title is to win six games consecutively.

9) Iowa St. Cyclones

Strengths: Offensive versatility, starting lineup
Weaknesses: Defense, lack of experience, rebounding
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Iowa State's presence in that same East bracket where Michigan State dwells has made the Cyclones another trendy Final Four pick, but Fred Hoiberg's team lacks Michigan State's pedigree, and the experience that created it. Few teams have three players as good as Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane, and Georges Niang; few elite teams have as many questions about their offensive rebounding.

10) Villanova Wildcats

Strengths: Balance, versatility, experience
Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, lack of go-to scorer
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Villanova resembles a slightly inferior Florida in so many ways. But Florida never lost to a team as bad as Seton Hall, and the UConn team that shot down the Gators in Storrs lurks as a potential Round of 32 game for 'Nova, limiting their life expectancy. And if the 'Cats duck the Huskies, they still get familiar Philly foe Saint Joseph's.

11) UCLA Bruins

Strengths: Big, strong, physical ... and that's just the point guard
Weaknesses: Perimeter defense, focus
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

UCLA delivered on some of its promise with an excellent Pac-12 Tournament that featured the best game any team has played against Arizona all year. 12 days ago, UCLA lost at Washington State. If the Bruins play like the team from last weekend, they might beat Florida; if they play like the team from two weekends ago, this will be their last weekend this year.

The dark horses

12) Duke Blue Devils

Strengths: Perimeter offense, having Jabari Parker
Weaknesses: Defense, having Jabari Parker playing defense
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

White-hot, Duke can beat anyone. Cold Duke can lose to any team on its NCAA Tournament path.

13) Creighton Bluejays

Strengths: Perimeter offense, three-point shooting, Doug McDermott
Weaknesses: All facets of defense
Best-case scenario: National championship
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

White-hot, Creighton can beat anyone. Cold Creighton can lose to any team on its NCAA Tournament path. (Except for Louisiana-Lafayette, which has nothing for McDermott.)

The untrustworthy "contenders"

14) Wisconsin Badgers

Strengths: Offense, versatility, frustrating offensive system
Weaknesses: Defense, reliance on pace
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

This is one of Bo Ryan's better Wisconsin teams, and should really be able to go far in the NCAA Tournament. We say this every year, though.

15) Syracuse Orange

Strengths: Talent, steady point guard, frustrating defensive system
Weaknesses: Season extending past Valentine's Day
Best-case scenario: Elite Eight
Worst-case scenario: Round of 32 upset

Syracuse was 25-0 when February 16 dawned, and is 2-5 since then, with losses to Boston College and Georgia Tech. No NCAA Tournament champion in the last 10 years has been under .500 in its final five pre-Tournament games; Syracuse was, appropriately, 2-3. Do you really think Syracuse can beat Kansas? Florida?

16) San Diego St. Aztecs
17) Cincinnati Bearcats

Strengths: Defense, especially in the half court
Weaknesses: Offense, lack of a second scorer
Best-case scenario: Sweet Sixteen
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

So similar in so many ways, and so susceptible to teams that can take away Xavier Thames and Sean Kilpatrick, respectively. Reverse the order if you want; it really doesn't matter. The Selection Committee denying us an Aztecs-Bearcats rock fight was probably a blessing.

The sleepers

18) New Mexico Lobos

Strengths: Inside-out balance, excellent frontcourt
Weaknesses: Defense, athleticism
Best-case scenario: Elite Eight
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

New Mexico's a good team, essentially as good as the San Diego State team ahead of it, but doesn't have the same offensive weaknesses, and has a much kinder draw. It would not be surprising to see New Mexico in the Elite Eight if it can knock off Joel Embiid-less Kansas.

19) Kentucky Wildcats

Strengths: Elite talent, insane penchant for drawing fouls, offensive rebounding
Weaknesses: Free-throw shooting, perimeter defense, discipline
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Don't believe all of the hype from Kentucky fans convinced that the Wildcats have hit their stride because their third loss to Florida was closer than the first two. But remember these two things: 2012 Florida lost three games to a great Kentucky team in a very similar pattern, then went on an Elite Eight run; 2014 Kentucky matches up very well against Kansas State, will have many size advantages on Wichita State if it advances, and has already beaten Louisville once this year.

20) North Carolina Tar Heels

Strengths: Superb point guard, run-and-gun style
Weaknesses: Point guard frequently hibernates for first half
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

It's a merciless road for North Carolina, one the Tar Heels will have to take past Providence, Iowa State, and Villanova or UConn to get to the Elite Eight. But this Carolina team can beat anyone ... if it's awake and engaged, anyway.

21) Oklahoma Sooners

Strengths: Shooting, offensive rebounding, free-throw shooting
Weaknesses: Defense, in every facet
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Oklahoma is young, with only one major contributor older than a sophomore. And the Sooners lack a single undeniable scorer, because Buddy Hield is mostly a shooter. But if the Sooners get past a tricky North Dakota State team, they have San Diego State and Arizona (in theory) between them and the Elite Eight, and the Sooners shoot and run well enough to stage two upsets.

And yes, they come before...

22) Oklahoma St. Cowboys

Strengths: Explosiveness, elite talent
Weaknesses: Consistency, shooting
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

When Okie State is great, it is great. When it is not, it can be awful. It has been great a scant few times this season.

23) Connecticut Huskies

Strengths: Have Shabazz and you don't
Weaknesses: Interior scoring, defense
Best-case scenario: Final Four
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

If there is one player who could catch fire and carry his team to the Final Four, it's Andrew Wiggins. If there are two, they're Wiggins and Shabazz Napier. Two differences between the two players' paths: UConn doesn't have to go through Florida to get there, and could pretty easily torch Villanova and Iowa State on a hot day.

24) VCU Rams

Strengths: HAVOC, as per usual
Weaknesses: Interior play
Best-case scenario: Sweet 16
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

This is probably Shaka Smart's best VCU team on paper, with these Rams adding ferocious perimeter defense to their typically soul-stressing presses; VCU is second to only Arizona in adjusted defensive efficiency. But they struggle to score, especially inside, and no one did VCU any favors with its bracketing: First, they get press-happy Stephen F. Austin, then a potential game with towering UCLA, and then a game with press-happy and sizable Florida.

The super-sleeper

25) Tennessee Volunteers

Strengths: Interior play, elite scorer, resilience
Weaknesses: Shaky point guard play
Best-case scenario: Elite Eight
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Tennessee is the scariest No. 11 seed in NCAA Tournament history. The Vols rank ninth in KenPom, and have a top-25 offense and defense, something that only Louisville, Florida, Wichita State, and Villanova, title contenders all, can also boast. They are a nightmare for Duke if they get by UMass, and need only to hem up Chaz Williams to get by UMass; they are a nightmare for Michigan if they get by Duke. Tennessee's already lost to two (Wichita State, Kentucky) of its three (add Louisville) most likely Elite Eight opponents, though.

And it lost to Texas A&M. Twice. On threes given up to a lightly-used forward. Twice. (That's mostly bad luck, but it deserves mention.)

Mid-major heartbreakers

26) Gonzaga Bulldogs

Strengths: Interior defense, inside-out combination
Weaknesses: Consistency, lack of elite wins
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Gonzaga's best win is still over Arkansas. I don't care that BYU made the NCAA Tournament.

27) Harvard Crimson

Higher Education

Strengths: Remarkable balance, talent, and experience
Weaknesses: Is basically the Gonzaga of Boston
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

This Harvard team is a lot better than the Harvard team that beat New Mexico last year. But Harvard has wilted against every very good team it has played, and didn't play many, going 0-2 against NCAA Tournament squads, and losing those games to UConn and Colorado. Harvard's best win is over Green Bay. Or maybe Vermont. Cincinnati could be that new best win, but the rugged Bearcats are a rough matchup for the Crimson.

28) Saint Louis Billikens

Strengths: Defense, experience, balance
Weaknesses: Have become comfortably numb
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Saint Louis is going to struggle with N.C. State, and specifically with T.J. Warren, but Saint Louis has struggled with everything of late. The Billikens rose to the top 10 in the polls, and have been 1-4 since, their lone win coming by two points on a dramatic late shot. And if they should get by N.C. State, Louisville awaits.

Big-league bummers

29) Pittsburgh Panthers

Strengths: Playing basketball well
Weaknesses: Winning games
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Pitt's only truly good win this year came against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament. (The Panthers routed Stanford on a neutral court way back when, but made 30-of-34 free throws in that win, and, well, we'll see Stanford soon.) The Panthers also avoided good losses, but narrowly, winning overtime games against Miami, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. Theirs is the classic profile of a team that plays a good game against a better team and bows out with a final frustrating loss. And, hey, look, Florida's waiting in the "Third Round."

30) Ohio St. Buckeyes

Strengths: Defense, Aaron Craftiness
Weaknesses: Offense
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Can't really shoot, despite their best efforts, and while their best efforts on defense are significant, they don't really make up for the offense. There's really no better thing to sum up Ohio State's season than that Aaron Craft GIF.

31) Baylor Bears

Strengths: Being tall
Weaknesses: Translating being tall to effective defense, somehow
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Yes, Baylor could have no trouble with a Nebraska team with little but finesse and shooting to recommend it. But the Bears are bad at defending the arc, and could get shot down by the first Nebraska team they face; if not, Creighton will surely finish the job.

32) Memphis Tigers

Strengths: Running a lot
Weaknesses: Doing other things
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Of the things that Memphis can do well, literally all of them will be negated by Virginia. And the Tigers have to beat George Washington just to get to their death-by-grinder fate against the Wahoos.

33) Texas Longhorns

Strengths: Interior defense, 
Weaknesses: Coached by Rick Barnes, unfamiliar with this "shooting" thing
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Texas doesn't really have a bad loss this season, and won't get one in the NCAA Tournament. But when the Longhorns look bad, they look very, very bad, and if they can get by a similarly inconsistent Arizona State team, Michigan is ready to deliver death by three.

34) Kansas St. Wildcats

Strengths: Will Spradling will always be open
Weaknesses: Spradling also misses, youth
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Of the 64 teams left in the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State ranks 57th in Defensive Rebound Percentage. Round of 64 opponent Kentucky ranks first among NCAA Tournament teams in Offensive Rebound Percentage, and second nationally. And if the purple Wildcats should survive the blue ones, Wichita State awaits.

Deeper sleepers

35) Oregon Ducks

Strengths: Shooting and perimeter defense
Weaknesses: Non-perimeter defense
Best-case scenario: Elite Eight
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Oregon beat Arizona essentially by getting hot for 10 minutes. Could the Ducks do that to Michigan, Duke, and Louisville or Wichita State? Sure. But they have to get by super-fast BYU first, and the Ducks are sometimes dead in the water when they go cold.

36) Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks

Strengths: Unique style, turnover-happy defense
Weaknesses: Bunch of little guys running around out there
Best-case scenario: Sweet Sixteen
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

I love them, yes, but I can't bring myself to rank them any higher, especially because of their draw. Their pressure defense has no element of surprise for VCU, and their roster has nothing to trouble UCLA, in theory. Could a couple of miracles happen? Sure. But I'm not holding my breath. I'll be rooting instead.

37) Providence Friars

Strengths: Bryce Cotton, ingenious coaching
Weaknesses: Bryce Cotton has yet to be cloned
Best-case scenario: Sweet 16
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

If you can beat Creighton while actually sort of frustrating Doug McDermott, you're a good team; congrats, Providence, you're a good team. What that's worth when your road to the Sweet 16 goes through two different exhausting defenses and terminates with a likely game against Kansas is unclear.

38) UMass Minutemen

Strengths: Chaz Williams
Weaknesses: You have to play basketball with five players
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 upset

Is it fair that UMass gets super-sleeper Tennessee in its first game (in a location far closer to Tennessee than Massachusetts) and would likely get Duke in Raleigh in its second one? No. But given how the Minutemen's RPI was inflated by a stack of "Well, that's a good win over an OK team, I guess" wins taller than waterbug point guard Williams, it's still fair in a sense.

39) North Carolina Central Eagles

Strengths: Flummoxing defense, maturity
Weaknesses: The best MEAC team ever still played little but MEAC competition
Best-case scenario: Sweet 16
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

I love the Eagles, too, and I think they're a very good mid-major with a horrific draw. There's just no way they beat Iowa State unless the Cyclones lay a massive egg. (But, then again, if they do, North Carolina is likely next up. The Eagles might be fired up for that one.)

40) Dayton Flyers

Strengths: Shooters, guard play
Weaknesses: Height-deficient
Best-case scenario: Sweet 16
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Anyone can beat Ohio State, so Dayton can beat Ohio State. Anyone can beat Syracuse, so Dayton can beat Syracuse. But don't let that distract from the Flyers being good, hot, and worrisome on their own.

41) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Strengths: Shooters, floor spacing
Weaknesses: Still Nebraska
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

I can't imagine Nebraska getting by Baylor and Creighton, but the Cornhuskers have enough shooting to take down the Bears and trouble the Bluejays. They're a year away, anyway. Hey, actually...

Other "year away" teams

42) Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Strengths: Battle-tested defense, hot of late, Danny Manning could pass for a player
Weaknesses: Danny Manning might be best player on roster, even now
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Tulsa ain't beating UCLA unless a lot of things go right, but the seven most important Golden Hurricane players are sophomores or freshmen. Remember this for November.

43) New Mexico St. Aggies

Strengths: Super tall
Weaknesses: Coordination, as happens with tall people
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

The Aggies are good and really tall right now. But the thing to know about the Aggies is that they will be really good and really tall and older next year, when they are likely to be among the mid-major darlings all season.

44) Colorado Buffaloes

Strengths: Once had Spencer Dinwiddie
Weaknesses: I said once
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 "upset"

Colorado doesn't have a senior worth mentioning, but losing Dinwiddie was seismic; the Buffs were once 28th in KenPom, but have fallen to 58th. And their last three wins are all by 59-56 scores, which ... wait, yeah, Pittsburgh could definitely lose by that score.

45) BYU Cougars

Strengths: Overcaffeinated offense, Tyler Haws
Weaknesses: Not having Kyle Collinsworth, defense
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

BYU has no seniors to speak of and should be absolutely loaded. But their current Collinsworth-less roster is a little more sobering. Can we call BYU the Stormin' Mormons when they're really fast and really good next year?

One-game champions?

46) North Dakota State Bison

Oklahoma is well-suited to make a mess of NDSU's terrible perimeter defense, but, hey, it might be a fun back-and-forth bomb-tossing game!

47) Manhattan Jaspers

Strengths: George F. Beamon, please say the Beamon
Weaknesses: Smallish
Best-case scenario: Not losing to Louisville by 30
Worst-case scenario: Losing to Louisville by 30

Congrats, Steve Masiello and George Beamon: Your excellent season has gotten you a game against Masiello mentor Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals, who will surely not be really eager to prove their No. 4 seed was a disservice or anything.

48) Mercer Bears

Strengths: Guard play, shooting
Weaknesses: Balanced mediocrity
Best-case scenario: WE BEAT DUKE
Worst-case scenario: Did not beat Duke

I think that Mercer is better than 2013 Florida Gulf Coast, the last Atlantic Sun tourney representative, and I also think Mercer's probably going to get drilled by Duke.

49) American Eagles

Strengths: Lots of good shooters
Weaknesses: Unclear on why holding onto the ball is advisable
Best-case scenario: Upsetting Wisconsin in a slow game
Worst-case scenario: Still the most patriotic team ever despite 30-point loss

American is sixth nationally in Effective Field Goal Percentage and 343rd nationally in Offensive Turnover Rate. If the Eagles can hold on to the ball for long enough to shoot it, who knows?

50) George Washington Colonials

Strengths: Being OK at a lot of stuff
Weaknesses: Not being great at anything
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss, still not as patriotic as American

George Washington is exactly the sort of blandly solid team you might expect out of a conference where every team (save maybe VCU) scheduled brilliantly but forgot to get really good at basketball to make good on the seedings good scheduling earns.

51) Saint Joseph's Hawks

Strengths: Senior leadership, adorability of Phil Martelli's grandson
Weaknesses: Depth
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

St. Joe's is good enough to beat UConn if UConn takes a night off. It is a good team, when you look at its top three players (Halil Kanacevic, Langston Galloway, and Ronald Roberts). It is "hot" because it won the A-10 Tournament, and beat Fordham and Dayton by lopsided margins in the run-up to the A-10 Tournament. (No one remembers the home loss to La Salle.)

Unjustly low-ranked big-name teams

52) North Carolina St. Wolfpack

Strengths: T.J. Warren, Cat Barber's name
Weaknesses: Other stuff, like all of it
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

I dunno what strings Jim Valvano pulled up in the cloud place to get N.C. State a tourney berth and a matchup with a No. 5 seed that Warren should aerate, but he pulled 'em hard.

53) Arizona State Sun Devils

Strengths: Inside-out combination
Weaknesses: Herb Sendek coaches Arizona State
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

(Jahii Carson dribbles for 25 seconds)

(Carson notices shot clock)

(Carson dribbles for seven more seconds)

(Carson launches errant 20-footer)

54) Stanford Cardinal

Strengths: Lots of good players
Weaknesses: Not totally great at anything
Best-case scenario: Round of 32
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

Stanford and Washington played a game so utterly devoid of anything worth rejoicing in earlier this year that I stopped watching at halftime. Yes, I hold grudges. No, Stanford can't beat Kansas anyway.

Decent teams with awful draws

55) Delaware Blue Hens

Strengths: Careful offense
Weaknesses: Indifferent defense
Best-case scenario: Round of 64 close loss
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 blowout

Delaware's not bad, and was definitely the best team in its conference. But it has to play Michigan State.

56) Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns

Strengths: Elfrid Payton has cool name and cooler game
Weaknesses: That is about it for this team, really
Best-case scenario: Payton goes off, Cajuns lose close, I stay on the side of "Louisiana"
Worst-case scenario: Creighton'd

Louisiana-Lafeyette (please don't say the Lafayette) could've surprised some teams with Payton, a future NBA player. But it has to play Creighton.

Going out like lambs in March

57) Western Michigan Broncos

Strengths: Won the MAC, haven't lost in regulation since February began
Weaknesses: Won the MAC
Best-case scenario: Syracuse's second-most embarrassing loss of the season
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss to Syracuse

I could have talked myself into any of the other No. 14 seeds beating Syracuse. I can't do it with Western Michigan, which, of course, needs to score inside to be successful.

58) Milwaukee Panthers

Strengths: Beating Green Bay at opportune times
Weaknesses: Everything else
Best-case scenario: Hey, we still made it!
Worst-case scenario: Round of 64 loss

At least Milwaukee dropped the "UW-" bit a while ago. I like that.

59) Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Strengths: Reminding me of fried chicken, being small and feisty
Weaknesses: "Small and feisty" is coded language for "really small"
Best-case scenario: Scares Kansas for 30 minutes
Worst-case scenario: Scares Kansas for three minutes

If you know that Eastern Kentucky can shoot and plays great pressure defense (fourth nationally in Defensive Turnover Rate), you might tempt yourself into thinking that the Colonels can trouble a Kansas team that is occasionally careless with the ball and can be beaten from outside. Then you might realize that Andrew Wiggins is going to be guarded by someone at least four inches shorter than he is all game. (You are me.)

60) Wofford Terriers

Strengths: Named Wofford, mascot'd Terriers
Weaknesses: Teensy-weensy
Best-case scenario: Leading at some point
Worst-case scenario: 14-0 Michigan run out of the gate

At least Wofford will get small-balled to death by Michigan?

61) Weber St. Wildcats

Strengths: Shooting, having Davion Berry
Weaknesses: No longer having Damian Lillard
Best-case scenario: Somehow upsetting Arizona
Worst-case scenario: Not actually upsetting Arizona

If you have to pick a No. 16 seed this year, you're picking Weber State: The Wildcats can shoot a little bit, and Arizona has proven its bona fides as a team that forgets how to play offense from time to time. But, no, Weber State's not beating Arizona.

62) Albany Great Danes

Strengths: Hideous uniforms might blind Florida
Weaknesses: That is the best argument for Albany beating Florida
Best-case scenario: Florida just gets bored or something
Worst-case scenario: What's actually going to happen

I quote myself:

Florida has the nation's most balanced and versatile team, and that team is also full of seniors burned by failures to advance to the Final Four from the Elite Eight in the last three NCAA Tournaments. As driven as Florida's been during its school-record 26-game winning streak, which includes wins over Kansas and Memphis and three wins each over Kentucky and Tennessee, the Gators might actually have another gear for the NCAA Tournament.

Albany, not its conference's best or second-best team, has to play that team ... in Orlando.

63) Cal Poly Mustangs

Strengths: Absolutely the best sub-.500 team in the NCAA Tournament
Weaknesses: Absolutely the best sub-.500 team in the NCAA Tournament
Best-case scenario: Wichita State plays reserves for 10 minutes
Worst-case scenario: Wichita State plays reserves for 20 minutes

Cal Poly is genuinely good at taking care of the ball, which covers up for being genuinely bad at many other things enough for the Mustangs to have made an improbable run through the Big West Tournament and beaten the best team from the nation's worst conference. Have fun with Wichita State, now!

64) Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Strengths: Confusing all in their presence with their name
Weaknesses: Basketball
Best-case scenario: SHAN-TI-CLEER chants while up like 13-10 at the under-12 mark
Worst-case scenario: Scoring 20 points against Virginia

Coastal Carolina has three wins against KenPom top-200 teams. It has zero wins against KenPom top-190 teams.

More from SBNation.com

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.