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Ranking All Sixteen Teams Left in the 2021 NCAA Tournament

| March 24, 2021 12:30 pm PDT

A #1 seed is gone. A couple of #2 seeds have evaporated. Six of the eight teams that were seeded third or fourth have also exited the tournament.

As we look ahead to the second week of 2021 March Madness, it’s the perfect time to assess the remaining programs that are vying for a trip to the Final Four. With so many upsets and so much uncertainty, one thing remains steady across all Sweet 16 power rankings.

Undoubtedly, Mark Few’s bunch still reigns supreme.

1. Gonzaga Bulldogs

We knew Gonzaga was most the complete team in the land heading into March Madness; nothing has changed after handing out blowout losses to Norfolk State and Oklahoma.

Lon Kruger’s group got off to a great start against the Zags in Sunday’s second round, but before they could blink, they were down double-digits and the Bulldogs never looked back.

Drew Timme dropped 30/13/4 on 9/12 shooting against the Sooners, and he’s not even one of Gonzaga’s top-two players. Corey Kispert’s deadly outside shooting has continued into the tourney (10-17 from three), while Joel Ayayi has emerged with four straight games with at least 12 points and 8 rebounds.

Once Jalen Suggs gets going, “forget about it.”

2. Baylor Bears  

The Bears dominated the Badgers last time out and look like the clear favorite to represent the South Region in the Final Four.

Baylor’s backcourt is loaded with playmakers, and now we got a taste of the energy that Matthew Mayer brings off the bench.

The 6’9” junior guard has poured in at least 16 points three times in March. He’s racked up 15 rebounds and four steals through the first two games of the dance, and he’s only turned it over once.

Perhaps the most dynamic offensive team outside of Gonzaga, the Bears smothering defense propels them into being a genuine contender to the Bulldogs throne. 

3. Alabama Crimson Tide

Nate Oats’ offensive philosophy isn’t for everyone, but his analytical approach sure seems to be working in Tuscaloosa.

The Crimson Tide lead the country in three-pointers made and have taken 118 more threes than any other team in college basketball.

We can boast about Jaden Shackelford and John Petty Jr. or tell you how gifted Herbert Jones is an all-around player, but Bama’s most recent performance against Maryland does a good job of summing this squad up.

The Terps won the turnover battle and shot over 53% from the floor versus the Tide, and yet they still got bludgeoned, 96-77.

4. Loyola Chicago Ramblers

Loyola may have been a Cinderella Story when they made their Final Four run in 2018; this is a much more polished team.

The Ramblers own the no.1 adjusted defensive efficiency rating in the nation (KenPom) and made mincemeat out of the Fighting Illini this past weekend.

Cameron Krutwig was supposed to be contained by Kofi Cockburn – instead the left-handed senior went for 16/12/5 and registered four steals.

A one-point loss at Drake on Valentine’s Day is this team’s only blemish since January 10th.

Hailing from the Missouri Valley Conference don’t let the “8th-seed” attached to this program fool you about their aspirations. Loyola strolls into their Sweet 16 matchup versus Oregon State as a comfy 6.5-point favorite.

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5. USC Trojans

Has any team been more impressive through the first week than the Trojans?

After brushing Drake aside with no qualms at all (72-56), USC throttled Kansas without hardly breaking a sweat.

Superstar seven-footer Evan Mobley is the top prospect in the entire bracket, but this team is extremely balanced. Hence, the Trojans just annihilated the Jayhawks by 34 in a game that Evan took just six shots.

Aided by Isaiah Mobley (6’10”) and Drew Peterson (6’8”), USC’s got enough length to potentially impose a threat on Gonzaga should they slide by Oregon on Sunday.

Those of you betting March Madness online, know that Andy Enfield is now 9-0 ATS during his career in the NCAA Tournament.

6. Michigan Wolverines

#6 in the Sweet 16 power rankings might seem a tad too low for Michigan, but let’s study the facts.

The Big Ten is apparently wildly overrated – eight of the nine B1G schools have already been eliminated.

Wolverines stud Isaiah Livers doesn’t look any closer to returning after Juwan Howard all but confirmed his team will continue playing without the services of their 6’7” senior wing.

On paper, Michigan survived a scare from LSU and fended off the Tigers by eight. With that being said, it took 53.8% shooting to overcome ending up -9 in turnover differential.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks

The Good: Arkansas has held both of their opponents to under 40% shooting and cis +12 in the turnover department.

The Bad: The Razorbacks are 9-33 (27.3%) from beyond the arc in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and have been outrebounded in both games.

Freshman sensation Moses Moody and senior Justin Smith are both big-time players, but Eric Musselman’s lack of depth could come back to haunt this team.

Only seven Razorbacks saw the court in their 68-66 win over Texas Tech, and one of those guys only played three minutes.

8. Houston Cougars

Houston narrowly escaped against Rutgers – they were trailing the Scarlet Knights by eight points with under five minutes to go.

Maybe they got their “bad game” out of the way, or perhaps this team was exposed.

Quentin Grimes is the type of guard that can take over ball games late, but Kelvin Sampson has his work cut out for him with DeJon Jarreau visibly less than 100%.

The good news looking ahead to their Sweet 16 matchup against Syracuse is they should be able to dominate the offensive glass.

Not only is Houston the third-best offensive rebounding team in America; Syracuse’s commitment to playing zone makes them vulnerable to allowing offensive boards. 

9. Florida State Seminoles

Despite watching a pair of underclassmen become lottery picks in 2020, Leonard Hamilton has marched the Seminoles into the Sweet 16 without much resistance. FSU backed up a 10-point win in their opener with an 18-point drubbing over Colorado in round 2, and they’ll now get a shot at revenge against the Wolverines on Sunday.

Florida State’s 2018 NCAA Tournament run ended in the Elite 8 after being bounced by Michigan.

Thanks to a balanced attack on offense and deliberate pressure on defense, FSU has a legitimate chance to soar into the Final Four.

10. Oregon Ducks

A free pass against VCU left many wondering how good Oregon really is. A thorough beatdown of Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes should tell you everything you need to know. Four Ducks scored at least 17 points and they shot 55.9% from the field.

This is not the first time we’ve seen Dana Altman and company surge during March Madness, but a tough test against USC looms in the next round. The Trojans pummeled Oregon on February 22nd and can match up athletically – something very few teams in the country can claim. 

The Ducks have five players averaging in double figures and shoot 37.9% from downtown.

11. Villanova Wildcats

Before we assume that the Wildcats are clicking minus Collin Gillespie, let’s take a step back and remember how Villanova got here.

The Wildcats defeated Winthrop and North Texas, and that comes after ending their regular season with consecutive losses to Providence and Georgetown.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a load in the paint, and we can’t underestimate the value Jay Wright brings to the sidelines. On the flip side, Nova will need to pull a rabbit out of their hat to get by Baylor and advance.

12. Syracuse Orange

The Orange a live dog Saturday against Houston. Jim Boeheim’s group stifled San Diego State with their 2-3 zone and stuck to their guns against West Virginia.

As brilliant as Buddy Boeheim was in the ACC Tournament (29.0 ppg, 55% 3PT shooting), he’s been just as sharp during Syracuse’s back-to-back upsets in the bracket.

The coach’s son scored 30 against the Aztecs and 25 versus the Mountaineers; he’s 13-23 from three-point land (56.5%) and has accounted for at least five triples in each of his last four games.

If they had to hand out the March Madness MOP award right now, they’d be hard-pressed to hand it to anyone not named Buddy Boeheim.

13. Creighton Blue Jays

Creighton shoots a lot of threes and has no problem scoring the basketball, it was their shortcomings on defense that were supposed to hold them back.

It looks like Dean McDermott forgot to send that memo to his men after the Blue Jays suffocated Ohio in the round of the 32.

The Bobcats registered just 58 points (more than 20 below their season average) and shot 7-30 from deep. Marcus Zegarowski led the way with his 6th 20-point game of the year, but the 6’2” junior PG will need to be even better this weekend.

Creighton heads into their Sweet 6 matchup with the Zags as a 13.5-point underdog.

14. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

Here’s how dangerous Oral Roberts is. Max Abmas is the nation’s leading scorer and has lived up the hype in the first two games.

The 165-pound sophomore guard scored 29 and 26 against Ohio State and Florida, respectively, but here’s what’s stands out. Abmas didn’t even lead the Golden Eagles in scoring in either contest.

Kevin Obanor in the 2021 NCAA Tournament – By the Numbers
Opponent Points Rebounds
Ohio State 30 11
Florida 28 11/td>

Talk about a dependable “1-2 punch,” Abmas and Obanor lead the way for a team that knows they’re playing with house money.

Who would have thought that a team that finished fourth in the Summit League would have a place in the Sweet 16?

15. UCLA Bruins

With three games under their belt and a surging Johnny Juzang (22.3 ppg in the NCAA Tournament), there’s merit to moving the Bruins up a couple of up in the Sweet 16 power rankings.

On the contrary, Chris Smith remains out with a torn ACL and it’s unlikely they’ll continue their torrid pace from outside.

UCLA has converted 42.9% of their three-pointers thus far and had the benefit of running into an ice-cold Abilene Christian squad.

It seems like a distant memory, but Mick Cronin’s crew snuck into the Big Dance after losing their final four games of the season. 

16. Oregon State Beavers

Rounding out the Sweet 16 Power rankings is the fourth team out of the Pac-12. The Beavers breezed past Tennessee and wound-up beating Oklahoma State by 10, but let’s not pretend the team from Corvallis is bulletproof.

Oregon State has a noticeable chink in their armor that has come to light in the tourney.

After losing the turnover battle 15-12 in round one against the Vols, the Beavers turned it over 20 times against the Cowboys and only forced 8 TOs. 35 turnovers in two games are glaring, and now they’re pitted against arguably the top defensive team in the tournament.

From finishing 6th in his conference to moving onto the second week in the dance, it’s been a remarkable ride for Wayne Tinkle. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see the good vibes lasting past a date with the Ramblers.

Who Will Advance Past the Sweet 16 in 2021?

A close look at Sweet 16 power rankings gives us an idea of who is most likely to be cutting the nets down on April 5th. Gonzaga began the tournament as the overwhelming favorite, and they’re in a prime position to strike now that the #2, #3, and #4 seed have all been ousted from their region.

Then again, perhaps the winner of the Ducks vs. Trojans game was the Bulldogs most sincere challenger in the West all along.

If I had to put a finger on a Final Four based on what I’ve seen so up until now, I’d point straight back up to the top of these March Madness rankings.

Gonzaga, Alabama, Baylor, and Loyola Chicago. From there, I don’t see anybody stopping the Bulldogs on their way to a perfect 32-0 season.

Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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