NCAA Tournament Power Rankings: Reseeding the Elite Eight with two No. 1 seeds

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By journalsofus.com


The Athletic has live coverage of the NCAA Tournament.

,editor’s Note: it is part of bracket central seriesAn inside look at the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments, along with analysis and selections during the tournament.)

The Sweet 16 matchup in the NCAA Tournament did not disappoint. Six of the eight games were decided by single points, and the No. 1 seeded pair were eliminated. Oh, and a No. 11 seed that once was 17-14 overall entering the ACC Tournament is still standing.

All four Elite Eight matchups offer plenty of interest: UConn vs. Illinois, Alabama vs. Clemson, Duke vs. NC State and Purdue vs. Tennessee. The Duke–NC State, Alabama–Clemson and Purdue–Tennessee games are rematches of games from earlier in the season.

Here are our latest NCAA Tournament power rankings for all eight remaining national title contenders, along with the regional finals. We will update these rankings after each round and until the Final Four begins. If the Sweet 16 was any indication, the eight remaining teams should do well. Which teams are in the best position to participate in the championship? Here’s where things stand.

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The Huskies have been a freight train running through the NCAA Tournament. again. The latest example came in the Sweet 16 when UConn defeated San Diego State 82–52 to advance to the Elite Eight matchup against Illinois. Cam Spencer scored 18 points, one of four players to score in double figures. The defending national champions have won their three NCAA Tournament games by an average of 28.7 points. UConn coach Dan Hurley is so confident in his team that he recently called the group “bulletproof.” So far, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.

No. 5 San Diego State

82-52

Matt Painter has led Purdue to the brink of history after an 80-68 win against Gonzaga. Purdue can reach its first Final Four since 1980 with a win against Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Purdue has spent the entire season trying to respond to losing its first-round NCAA Tournament game as a No. 1 seed a year ago, and the Boilermakers have met the challenge. Zach Eddy had 27 points and 14 rebounds against Gonzaga, while Braden Smith added 14 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds. Purdue defeated both Gonzaga and Tennessee at the Maui Invitational earlier this season and will need to do so again to do more.

No. 16 Grambling State

78-50

Illinois has played as well as any team in the country over the past month, winning 10 of its last 11 games, and showed its talent and grit by defeating Iowa State 72-69 in the Sweet 16. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored a team-high 29 points and recorded his seventh consecutive game of at least 20 points. This is the first time that Illinois has made the Elite Eight since they were national runner-up 19 years ago. There are some masterpieces in Illinois. Shannon, Marcus Domask and Coleman Hawkins all have double figures in scoring average. But the next test will be the toughest against top-seeded UConn.

No. 14 Morehead State

85-69

Tennessee defeated Creighton 82–75 to earn its second Elite Eight appearance and first since 2010. Dalton Knecht scored a game-high 26 points, while Zakai Ziegler had 18 points and Josiah-Jordan James added 15 points. Tennessee plays Purdue for a spot in the Final Four. Purdue defeated Tennessee 71–67 at the Maui Invitational after the Volunteers shot only 33.3 percent from the field.

No. 15 St. Peter’s

83-49

Duke defeated No. 1 seed Houston 54–51, making several key defensive stops to hold the Cougars 23 points below their season average. Kyle Filipowski (16 points) and Jeremy Roach (14 points) both scored in double figures for the Blue Devils. An Elite Eight matchup against fellow ACC foe NC State is next.

No. 12 James Madison

93-55

The fast pace at which Alabama plays continues to pay off. Alabama defeated No. 1 seed North Carolina 89–87 to advance to its second Elite Eight (and first since 2004). Grant Nelson was the star of the show, scoring 19 of his 24 points in the second half and finishing with 12 rebounds and five blocks. Rylan Griffen and Aaron Estad scored 19 points, and Mark Sears added 18 points. Now comes a postseason matchup that most fans are accustomed to seeing in football: Alabama vs. Clemson.

No. 1 North Carolina

89-87

Chase Hunter converted a three-point play with 25.7 seconds remaining during Clemson’s 77–72 Sweet 16 victory to defeat No. 2 seed Arizona. The Tigers reached the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980. Hunter led Clemson with 18 points, while PJ Hall added 17 and Ian Schieffelin had 14 points. Clemson can reach its first Final Four with a win against Alabama.

NC State’s magical march continued with a 67–58 win against No. 2 seed Marquette, sending the Wolfpack to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986. This marked eight consecutive wins for NC State, which won all five games played. ACC Tournament to earn a berth in the big dance. DJ Horn scored a team-high 19 points, while Mohamed Diarra added 11 points and 15 rebounds. NC State plays a Duke team that the Wolfpack defeated 74–69 during the ACC Tournament, although Duke won the regular season matchup between the teams.

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(Top photo of Grant Nelson: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY)



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