In just over a month, NCAA men’s basketball teams from across the country, at least those fortunate enough to have survived, will start their path toward a championship win with March Madness. Set to get underway on March 17 with four games, following the selection process on March 15, there is still enough time between now and then to see movement in the standings.
As each week brings basketball fans closer to the aptly-named games, power rankings are going to become more important than ever, especially to those who might have the opportunity to put up a wager or two on the games.
By all counts, San Diego State is on top of the power rankings, and rightfully so. The Aztecs have had a tremendous year in the Mountain West Conference, racking up a perfect 24-0 record. With only five games left in the season, no one should expect to see much in the way of position changes. None of the remaining teams is a strong potential threat, and the Aztecs are a lock for a March Madness appearance.
Despite San Diego State’s dominating performances, there are two teams that could threaten the standings. Both Gonzaga and Baylor are doing well in their respective conferences, and will also be seen in the postseason this year. The Baylor Bears have come out on top to surprise many, and is a definite contender to make it to the finals this year. They have been strong throughout the season, dropping just one game, and beat Kansas – the number two-ranked team – last November. There exists the possibility that Kansas will get its revenge when these two teams meet again in a couple of weeks, but the Bears need to be watched closely.
The Duke Blue Devils just got a wakeup call this past weekend. Currently 20-3, they almost lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in a game that was forced to go into overtime. The Tar Heels are currently in 13th place in the ACC with a 10-13 record, and have not put up a good fight at all this year. The fact that Duke almost lost to NC had to be an eye-opener for the team, and there’s now no more room for error. If Duke wants to stay toward the top of the list in the rankings, it will have to regroup and come up with new strategies. The win against the Florida State Seminoles last night was a step in the right direction, and the team needs to keep that rhythm.
The Dayton Flyers haven’t been slouching too much this year, either. Now sitting on a 21-2 record, they have maintained a top position in the power rankings for most of the season. The team’s strength is going to be put to the test against Rhode Island tonight and, if it survives, basketball fans should expect to see a lot of great things out of the team in the post season.
The Maryland Terrapins sit on top of the Big Ten, thanks, in part, to a six-game winning streak. Give them credit for turning things around, and watch as they bring things home in their remaining games. Most of the upcoming contests don’t offer any major competition, and Maryland should be able, with only a little bit of effort, cruise all the way to the Sweet 16.
One of the most underappreciated teams this year is Florida State University (FSU). According to NCAA’s rankings, the Seminoles are ranked 15, down two spots from last week. FSU is 20-4, and is well below other teams with worse records. It has a tough schedule as the regular season comes to an end, but there is still a lot of talent on the squad that can carry it through to March Madness.
Penn State just found a burst of energy that has allowed the team to secure six wins in a row. They’re now second in the Big Ten, right behind Maryland, and are deserving of a spot in the rankings. A couple of teams could make things difficult as it looks for a spot in postseason action, but its improvement as of late is a sign that the Nittany Lions are still in the running.