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College Hoops on Sling: The NCAA’s Midseason Sweet 16

The NCAA for the first time ever released an in-season peek at their top 16 teams ahead of March Madness, and there was surely some disappointment felt on campuses across the nation. Let’s take a look at who’s #1, and just as important, which #2’s might catch them. Lucky for the NCAA, all four #1’s managed to win on Saturday, so there’s no egg on their face.

Numbers in brackets are overall ranking according to the NCAA

East

#1. Villanova (1)
The defending champs, led by senior guard Josh Hart, are currently ranked #1 overall by the committee, and you can understand why, given they have the second-best record, despite playing in a tough Big East conference. Of their two losses, one was by 2 points, and the other was to #24 Butler. They still have games against #20 Creighton and #24 Butler in the last weeks of the regular season. Louisville is unlikely to catch them given their 4-5 record against ranked teams and the fact that they still have to play #10 UNC as well as likely tournament teams Syracuse and Notre Dame.

#2. Louisville (7)
#3. Kentucky (12)
#4. UCLA (15)

South

#1. Baylor (3)
All three of their losses have come against brutal Big 12 competition, including games against #9 West Virginia and #3 Kansas, both of whom they must face again before the season’s out. But Baylor can breath a little easier thanks to #10 North Carolina’s loss to #12 Duke last week, as well as the Tar Heels’ schedule down the stretch, which features #14 Virginia (twice), #8 Louisville, and a rematch with Duke.

#2. North Carolina (5)
#3. Florida (11)
#4. Butler (13)

Midwest

#1. Kansas (2)
They’d run off 18 wins in a row before getting upended by West Virginia and Iowa State, have played one of the toughest schedules in the country and they’ve got a tough road ahead, with a rematch against WV, as well #4 Baylor, and four other Big 12 foes. The #15 Florida Seminoles find themselves chasing a 1-seed despite having gone 4-5 over the past month, dropping games to UNC, G-Tech, Notre Dame and Syracuse – and their remaining schedule does not pose enough challenges to get them over the top.

#2. Florida State (6)
#3. Arizona (9)
#4. Duke (16)

West

#1. Gonzaga (4)
While head coach Mark Few and his charges are no doubt disappointed to be ranked at the bottom of the best, if they take a good hard look in the mirror, they’ll understand why. Yes, they’re undefeated and lead the nation in margin of victory (23.38), but they’ve only played four ranked teams, and one of them, Iowa State, has since fallen out of the rankings. Unless they get a lot of help, they shouldn’t expect to climb any higher, as their last four games are weak WCC opponents.

#2. Oregon (8)
#3. Virginia (10)
#4. West Virginia (14)

Monday

#8 Louisville (20-5) vs Syracuse (16-10)
7pm ET on ESPN

#4 Baylor (22-3) vs Texas Tech (16-9)
7pm ET on ESPNU

#9 West Virginia (20-5) vs #3 Kansas (22-3)
8pm ET on ESPN

Tuesday

#15 Florida (20-5) vs Auburn (16-9)
7pm ET on SEC Network

Tennessee (14-11) vs #13 Kentucky (20-5)
7pm ET on ESPN

Wednesday

Xavier (18-7) vs Providence (15-11)
6:30pm ET on FS1

Arkansas (18-7) vs #21 South Carolina (20-5)
6:30pm ET on SEC Network

#18 Cincinnati (22-3) vs South Florida (7-17)
7pm ET on ESPNU

St John’s (12-14) vs #24 Butler (19-6)
8:30pm ET on FS1

#12 Duke (20-5) vs #14 Virginia (18-6)
9pm ET on ESPN2

Thursday

#11 Wisconsin (21-4) vs Michigan (16-9)
7pm ET on ESPN

#5 Arizona (23-3) vs Washington State (11-14)
9pm ET on FS1

Utah (17-8) vs #7 Oregon (22-4)
9pm ET on ESPN/ESPN3

Saturday

Tulsa (12-12) vs #18 Cincinnati (22-3)
Noon ET on ESPNU

#2 VIllanova (24-2) vs Seton Hall (15-9)
12:30pm ET on FOX

Texas Tech (16-9) vs #9 West Virginia (20-5)
2pm ET on ESPN2

#15 Florida (20-5) vs Mississippi State (14-10)
2pm ET on ESPN

Colorado (15-11) vs #7 Oregon (22-4)
3pm ET on FOX

Michigan State (15-10) vs #16 Purdue (20-5)
4pm ET on ESPN

#17 Florida State (21-5) vs Pittsburgh (14-11)
4pm ET on ESPN2

#19 SMU (22-4) vs Houston (19-7)
6pm ET on ESPN2

#13 Kentucky (20-5) vs Georgia (14-11)
6pm ET on ESPN

#5 Arizona (23-3) vs Washington (9-16)
8pm ET on ESPN2

#14 Virginia (18-6) vs #10 North Carolina (21-5)
8:15pm ET on ESPN

#21 South Carolina (20-5) vs Vanderbilt (12-13)
8:30pm ET on SEC Network

#22 Saint Mary’s (22-3) vs BYU (18-9)
10pm ET on ESPN2

USC (21-5) vs #6 UCLA (23-3)
10pm ET on Pac-12 Network

Sunday

#23 Maryland (21-4) vs #11 Wisconsin (21-4)
TBD

DePaul (8-17) vs #24 Butler (19-6)
1:30pm ET on FS1

Georgetown (14-12) vs #20 Creighton (21-4)
3:30pm ET on FS1

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All stats courtesy ESPN and College Basketball Reference.