Home News Arizona lands on top tier of Sweet 16 power ratings

Arizona lands on top tier of Sweet 16 power ratings


Salt Lake City was good to Arizona in more ways than one.

The double-digit wins over Long Beach State and Dayton would have been plenty sufficient, for survival is paramount. But the Wildcats also caught a break with Clemson’s victory over Baylor, which created a more favorable matchup in the Sweet 16, and with the nature of their own performances.

Six different players scored in double figures for Arizona, establishing a broad base of confidence for later rounds.

Whether the cause is foul trouble or injuries or matchups or an unusual bounce, circumstances could put the Wildcats’ fate in the hands of any player on the court at a given time.

One shot to spark a rally.

One shot to beat the clock.

One shot to advance.

The likelihood of success increases if confidence is high, which brings us back to Salt Lake City.

All five starters scored in double figures against Long Beach State, with Kylan Boswell’s career high 20 points leading the way.

Two days later, Caleb Love took the lead with 19 points against Dayton and was joined in the double-digit realm by three other players, including reserve Jaden Bradley.

(If you’re curious: Four Clemson players have hit double digits thus far.)

All in all, Arizona shot 46.4 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from 3-point range in the two victories, with 36 assists and 24 turnovers — impressive numbers given the tournament pressure, neutral crowds and unfamiliar shooting backgrounds.

Offensive efficiency and balanced scoring are central to the Wildcats’ lofty position in our Sweet 16 power ratings.

(All times Pacific)

1. Connecticut

Results: beat Stetson 91-52 and Northwestern 75-58
Next up: vs. San Diego State in Boston
Tipoff: Thursday at 4:39 p.m./TBS or truTV
Comment: No offense to the other teams in Boston, but UConn fans can book their flights to Glendale for the Final Four. The defending champs are the team to beat until proven otherwise. (Psst: Nobody will prove otherwise.)

2. Purdue

Results: beat Grambling 78-50 and Utah State 106-67
Next up: vs. Gonzaga in Detroit
Tipoff: Friday at 4:39 p.m./TBS or truTV
Comment: The Boilermakers have the most dominant force in the sport, Zach Edey, and history on their side: The only other No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 turned around and won the national title the following year (Virginia in 2019). Can Purdue make it two-for-two?

3. North Carolina

Results: beat Wagner 90-62 and Michigan State 85-69
Next up: vs. Alabama in Los Angeles
Tipoff: Thursday at 6:39 p.m. (approx)/CBS
Comment: Scoring is never a problem for the Tar Heels. The difference this year — and what should worry Alabama, Arizona and others — is the enhanced level of defense played by Armando Bacot, RJ Davis and Co.

4. Arizona

Results: beat Long Beach State 85-65 and Dayton 78-68
Next up: vs. Clemson in Los Angeles
Tipoff: Thursday at 4:09 p.m./CBS
Comment: The first three words that come to mind when we consider the matchup against Clemson: Give the points. (The Wildcats are favored by 7.5, if you’re wondering.)

5. Duke

Results: beat Vermont 64-47 and James Madison 93-55
Next up: vs. Houston in Dallas
Tipoff: Friday at 6:39 p.m. (approx)/CBS
Comment: The dismantling of James Madison was on the short list of most impressive performances by any team in the 52 games played thus far. The Blue Devils were so good, in fact, that we now view them as the team to beat in the South.

6. Houston

Results: beat Longwood 86-46 and Texas A&M 100-95 (OT)
Next up: vs. Duke in Dallas
Tipoff: Friday at 6:39 p.m. (approx.)/CBS
Comment: Speaking of teams to beat in the South, the Cougars were extremely fortunate to survive their second-round affair with Texas A&M. Point guard Jamal Shead is our favorite player in the tournament, but he cannot carry the top seed by himself.

7. Creighton

Results: beat Akron 77-60 and Oregon 86-73 (2OT)
Next up: vs. Tennessee in Detroit
Tipoff: Friday at 7:09 p.m. (approx)/TBS or truTV
Comment: The Bluejays were one point from the Final Four last year and have a better team this time around with a terrific trio of wing Baylor Scheierman, guard Trey Alexander and center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Also, the Hotline picked Creighton to reach the Final Four (along with Arizona, Houston and UConn), and we remain quite comfortable with that projection.

8. Iowa State

Results: beat South Dakota State 82-65 and Washington State 67-56
Next up: vs. Illinois in Boston
Tipoff: Thursday at 7:09 p.m. (approx)/TBS or truTV
Comment: The ISU team that beat Washington State by 11 is good enough to beat Illinois by three and lose to UConn by 17. But hey, the Elite Eight would be a terrific achievement.

9. Marquette

Results: beat Western Kentucky 87-69 and Colorado 81-77
Next up: vs. N.C. State in Dallas
Tipoff: Friday at 4:09 p.m./CBS
Comment: The tournament is all about perimeter play, and Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is better than any point guard in the Sweet 16 not named Jamal Shead, who happens to be in the same region. An Elite Eight matchup would be something to behold.

10. Gonzaga

Results: beat McNeese State 86-65 and Kansas 89-68
Next up: vs. Purdue in Detroit
Tipoff: Friday at 4:39 p.m./TBS or truTV
Comment: A team that was on the NCAA bubble six weeks ago is playing with house money in the Sweet 16. That won’t solve Gonzaga’s Zach Edey problem, but it’s a nice complementary piece to the broader survival equation.

11. Tennessee

Results: beat Saint Peter’s 83-49 and Texas 62-58
Next up: vs. Creighton in Detroit
Tipoff: Friday at 7:09 p.m. (approx)/TBS or truTV
Comment: Tennessee was sizzling in early March on its way to winning the SEC regular-season title but hasn’t been the same team since. Unless guard Dalton Knecht is unstoppable — that’s always a possibility — the Vols are headed home Friday night.

12. Illinois

Results: beat Morehead State 85-69 and Duquesne 89-63
Next up: vs. Iowa State in Boston
Tipoff: Thursday at 7:09 p.m. (approx)/TBS or truTV
Comment: Good chance Illinois-Iowa State is the best of the Thursday games, largely because the other three have significant blowout potential.

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