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NCAA 2018 Tournament: Sweet Sixteen Bragging Rights And Prospects

So after the carnage, who’s left? And who has a real chance?

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Duke vs Rhode Island
Mar 17, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; The Duke Blue Devils mascot on the court after defeating the Rhode Island Rams in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at PPG Paints Arena.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

So with the Sweet Sixteen set, what do we have?

Well the ACC and the Big 12 have half of the field with four each. The SEC and the Big Ten have two each, while the Big East, the MVC, the Mountain West and the WCC have one each.

The PAC-12 is nowhere to be seen.

With Loyola and Nevada playing each other in the first game this coming weekend, either the Missouri Valley or the Mountain West is going to make the Elite Eight.

It would be an amazing story if Loyola won a second national championship.

When you look at the remaining teams, ask yourself this question: how many of them have no chance of winning the title?

It’s hard to rule people out, isn’t it? Syracuse is a longer shot than most as an 11 seed but they’re playing a familiar opponent in Duke first and that helps and they’ve done it before as a low seed. Florida State? Unlikely. Clemson? The Tigers are playing extraordinarily well. It seems unlikely but impossible? Not yet. Not with the brilliance their guards are showing and the defense they play.

Kansas is always a threat but we think you could safely rule out K-State. West Virginia isn’t a team we’d bet on but it’s not inconceivable. Pressing teams don’t generally press their way to titles, at least not since John Wooden’s early UCLA teams. We can’t say much about Texas Tech since we haven’t seen them much but a three seed counts for something.

You can never rule out Kentucky but youth makes it tricky. And after what Texas A&M did to UNC, respect (and gratitude) are due.

Michigan and Purdue are both solid teams but Purdue has a limited Isaac Haas at best and at worst won’t have him at all due to his elbow injury. Michigan has been really hot leading up to the post-season but were incredibly fortunate to beat Houston. We wouldn’t rule them out but they’re not on our top line either.

Villanova? Absolutely Villanova could win. In fact they may be the favorite. Jalen Brunson is a superb point guard and Mikal Bridges at his best can be transcendent.

Loyola? That’s a damn good team (please excuse our potty mouth Sister Jean. We promise to try not to do it again). They can play with anyone, no exceptions.

Nevada? They’ve been amazing but we didn’t realize they lost their starting point guard. They’ve done well but winning a national title without their point guard? Very hard to do. Also please not that while they’ve come back twice to win...they did have to come back. That trick will get much harder now.

Gonzaga? Yeah. Gonzaga could do it.

This is a rough idea/order of who we think has a serious chance. There are some exceptions to our normal formula. We value experience, outstanding guard play, defense and coaching. Still, as a general outline, this seems more or less right to us.

  • Villanova
  • Duke
  • Kansas
  • Gonzaga
  • Michigan
  • Kentucky
  • Purdue
  • Loyola
  • Nevada
  • Clemson
  • Texas A&M
  • Florida State
  • West Virginia
  • Syracuse
  • Texas Tech
  • Kansas State

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