NCAA Power 16 Rankings – NBADraft.net


Tickets have been punched, hearts have been broken and an 11-22 team that lost its last four games of the regular season is 40 minutes away from a NCAA Tournament appearance. With the official end of the regular season and conference tournaments in full swing, the madness is finally upon us. Keeping up with all of it often proves difficult, but our latest power rankings and players of the week is the perfect place to start. Happy March to all who celebrate!

1. Houston (29-2)

One last conference win for the Cougars cemented another impressive regular season for Kelvin Sampson in Houston. With a Kansas loss on Saturday, the Cougars are the favorite for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament as long as they hold serve and claim the AAC Conference Tournament Championship.

2. Kansas (25-6)

Despite the aforementioned loss to No. 9 Texas, Kansas is the second best in the country with the potential to become the first back-to-back national champions in over a decade. There’s a long way to go but with Bill Self at the helm, this team can beat anyone, especially with the experience of their starting lineup heading into single-elimination basketball.

3. UCLA (27-4)

The Bruins got revenge on Arizona to extend their winning streak to double digits and enter postseason hoops with the ultimate momentum. As the second ranked team and defense in KenPom, UCLA is prepped for a long run, especially since a No. 1 seed in the West region is in play after a rough week for the top teams in college basketball.

4. Texas (23-8)

Sir’Jabari Rice is the undisputed 6th man of the year in all of college basketball, which he left no doubt about with a 23-point performance to knock off No. 3 Kansas. An elite backcourt is part of the ideal recipe to reach the second weekend in March Madness and Rodney Terry has plenty of terrific guards at his disposal to avoid the upsets and compete for the first NCAA Tournament championship in school history.

5. Purdue (26-5)

The Big Ten needs a national championship to silence the doubters who constantly bring up the lack of a national championship in the conference since 2000 and the Boilermakers have a legit chance to do it. Their recent form is shaky, but with national player of the year candidate Zach Edey, the drought could come to an end sooner rather than later.

6. Alabama (26-5)

The Crimson Tide haven’t been the same since the Brandon Miller incident last week and that wasn’t more evident than in this week’s struggles against Auburn and Texas A&M. The Aggies will feature in these rankings for the first time all season, but Alabama needs to figure it out if they want to be considered a legit contender for a national championship.

7. Baylor (22-9)

It was a great sign to see Keyonte George back on the court, but the Bears looked horrific with him back in the lineup on Saturday in a home loss to unranked Iowa State. They’ll have a chance at redemption next week when they open their conference tournament with the Cyclones in Kansas City. Look for Baylor to be a national championship sleeper when the bracket comes out next Sunday.

8. Gonzaga (26-5)

It’s unusual facing the reality that Gonzaga won’t be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but that doesn’t mean anyone should question their talent and potential to bring the first national championship back to Spokane. The lack of lofty expectations might even bring the best out of the Zags who are realistic contenders if their point guard play improves in March.

9. Marquette (25-6)

A 22-4 end to the season propelled the Golden Eagles to their first Big East regular season championship in a decade, which is just the beginning to Shaka Smart’s resurgent season. With his defensive resume and offensive success this season, Marquette can win games in a variety of ways, making them increasingly dangerous in the Big East Tournament and March Madness.

10. UConn (24-7)

The Huskies are the team in the Big East with the best chance to ruin Marquette’s momentum and capture the conference tournament crown. With eight wins in the last nine, Dan Hurley’s group has the talent and momentum to make noise in the coming weeks.

11. Miami (24-6)

Miami enters the ACC Tournament as the top overall seed and with one of the top backcourts in the nation, led by Isaiah Wong, they should be the favorites to claim the tournament championship as well.

12. Arizona (25-6)

The Wildcats are an enigma heading into March Madness and the safest bet for NCAA Tournament brackets seems to be a Sweet 16 exit. At least in that scenario the Cats won’t be busting your bracket when their inevitable first round exit or Final Four run occurs with no possible scenarios in between.

13. Saint Mary’s (25-6)

The Gaels snatched the 1-seed from Gonzaga in the WCC Tournament for the first time since 2016, but it won’t matter if they can’t follow through with just the second WCC Championship not claimed by Gonzaga since 2013. The trophy will be going back to Moraga if Logan Johnson has anything to say about it.

14. San Diego State (24-6)

The Mountain West champions need to be on everyone’s radar ahead of Selection Sunday despite only one player averaging double figures at the conclusion of the regular season. Their balanced attack proved formidable in a league that ranked ahead of the ACC on KenPom’s efficiency rankings.

15. Texas A&M (23-8)

The turnaround in College Station was something to behold and it came to a perfect end with an upset win over No. 2 Alabama this Saturday. The Aggies argued that they belonged in last season’s NCAA Tournament, but there will be no denying them and their aggressive and unpredictable defense next weekend.

16. Duke (23-8)

It was never going to be easy erasing the humiliation of losing in the final home game of Coach K’s career and in the Final Four to North Carolina, but a subsequent season sweep of the Tar Heels is a good place to start. Jon Scheyer completed an undefeated season at Cameron Indoor Stadium before completing the sweep and has his debut team poised to make a deep run with their hot streak heading into March.

Next 5: Kansas State, Tennessee, Virginia, Indiana, TCU

Players of the Week:

Drew Pember, UNC Asheville Bulldogs

UNC Asheville was the second team to punch its ticket to the Big Dance and their superstar was the one to thank. Pember averaged 30 points over the course of the tournament and delivered in crunch time to send the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in school history. Not only is Pember a player to watch for the NCAA Tournament, but also for the NBA Draft as a potential second round sleeper as a prolific scoring stretch-five.

Camren Wynter, Penn State Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions were down to their last breath after blowing a 19-point second half lead to Rutgers last Sunday and Cam Wynter delivered a pair of game-winning shots this week with under a second to go to keep those dwindling hopes alive. The spotlight has been on Jalen Pickett all season long in State College, but it was the Drexel transfer who may have sent the Lions to the Big Dance for the first time in over a decade with his clutch shots against Northwestern and Maryland this week.

Tucker DeVries, Drake Bulldogs

Much like Pember, DeVries will have the opportunity to shine on a national stage thanks to his remarkable performances in this week’s Missouri Valley Conference tournament. The sharpshooting wing has worked his way onto draft radars in his two seasons at Drake and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that hard work pay off with an outstanding NCAA Tournament performance to convince a team to give him a shot in the second round of the NBA Draft.

Antonio Reeves, No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats

Speaking of sharpshooting, Antonio Reeves simply couldn’t miss in a 37-point outburst on the road in Fayetteville. Kentucky was missing both of their point guards for the trip, so Reeves stepped up as the primary ball-handler and delivered for the Cats to avoid a devastating week that started with a home loss to Vanderbilt. The ceiling in Lexington will be significantly lowered if their lead guards can’t return this season, but games like this by Reeves could spark a run for the talented Wildcats.

Boogie Ellis, USC Trojans

This was a pivotal week for the Trojans who likely needed at least one win to cement their status as a NCAA Tournament team. Boogie Ellis made sure they did. His 38 points may not have been enough to knock off No. 8 Arizona, but his 28 against Arizona State took USC firmly off the bubble and sent the Sun Devils one loss closer to seeing their bubble burst on Selection Sunday. Ellis’ second season in Southern California couldn’t be going better as the former highly touted recruit works his way back onto the minds of NBA scouts around the league.

Play of the Week:

The only thing better than a game-winning buzzer-beater is when that decisive shot comes during the calendar month of March. Northern Arizona went just 5-13 in the Big Sky this season, but that didn’t stop the second-lowest seeded team from ending Eastern Washington’s season. The 11-22 Lumberjacks are now just two wins away from punching an improbable ticket to the NCAA Tournament after Oakland Fort buried the biggest shot of his life in a highlight that epitomizes what is so special about March. Check it out here!

Oakland Fort drains game-winning 3 at the buzzer for Northern Arizona


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