1. Ohio State Buckeyes - You've seen 'em, you know 'em. They are so balanced, with guys like William Buford and David Lighty who can go inside or outside individually, not to mention a beast inside in Jared Sullinger and a dead-eye outside in Jon Diebler. They aren't particularly deep, and they've had trouble putting away some bad teams that they should just destroy so they aren't invincible, but I don't think they're in any danger of losing until at least the Sweet 16, although if Florida State makes it in they might be an intriguing second round matchup. If you're the type who likes to bet on college basketball, betting against them with the spread in those first two rounds, however, might be a nice idea.
2. Kansas Jayhawks - If I have to pick a national champion to throw my cash at in a sportsbook, right now I'm going with Kansas. I watched them take everything a very, very good Missouri team could throw at them last night and they just fired right back, eventually just wearing the Tigers down with their nearly limitless group of scoring options. They aren't huge, but have decent enough size and good enough guards to beat anybody, although they can struggle if freshman Josh Selby tries to do too much. Plus they're Kansas, and it's hard to trust Kansas.
3. Texas Longhorns - Harder to trust than Kansas is Texas, even if they're looking like the best team in the country at this particular moment. They have been beating some very good teams handily over the last few weeks, and it doesn't matter if they're home or away. The real question is if recruiter extraordinaire and mediocre game coach Rick Barnes can manage to stay out of the way. It will be interesting to watch if they get matched up against a lesser team with a great tactical coach.
4. Pitt Panthers - These guys look really, really good and just won at West Virginia with their best player on the bench. They have the same efficient, physical offense they usually do, but this time the trigger-man, the aforementioned Ashton Gibbs, is a legit scorer and not an offensive liability, which makes them far more dangerous than previous versions of nearly this same team which flamed out. They're one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the country and, along with Kansas, are pretty much guaranteed to be in my final four.
5. Duke Blue Devils - Here's the thing about Duke: with Kyrie Irving they're the prohibitive favorite to win the whole shootin' match, but without him they're going to struggle to reach the Sweet 16. But what could be even worse is if Irving doesn't come back until the NCAA Tournament. If Duke has to try to integrate him in the first round they're going to be a big risk to lose because they play a completely different style with or without him. Keep that in mind.
6. San Diego State Aztecs - A lot of people will probably dismiss the Aztecs based on the conference they play in, but don't make that same mistake. This team is as athletic as anybody in the country, they have a bonafide star in Kawhi Leonard, and they are well balanced in however way you want to break it down. A legit sleeper for the final four - which they assuredly will be no matter what their seed says.
7. BYU Cougars - Jimmer is Jimmer, and we've seen players carry teams on their back and reach the final four in the past (Larry Bird, Danny Manning), but I don't think BYU has enough complimentary pieces around him to make that kind of run. I see this as more of a Wally Szczerbiak situation but with a better seed and a likely place in the Sweet 16.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish - I seriously know nothing about Notre Dame this year except they are exceedingly white and somehow they are in the top 10. I need more information, but right now I think they're either a sleeper or overrated.
9. Villanova Wildcats - No Scottie Reynolds helps, and they have more balance inside/outside than they've had since Dante Cunningham left, but it's hard to completely trust the two Coreys. You don't really know if they're going to put up 20 each and carry the team or steal their dad's Caddy and date rape Heather Graham.
10. UCONN Huskies - Similar in some ways to BYU in terms of Kemba Walker vs. Jimmer Fredette, but Walker has more talented teammates and I think his/their ceiling is more final four-y. His teammates are all completely unproven sophomores and freshmen but they're undoubtedly talented. If they get one guy to step up to help Walker they're dangerous. If they get two? Final Four, homeboy.
11. Georgetown Hoyas - Any team built around three guards is going to be a threat in March, because although some cliches aren't true there are some that most assuredly are - the three most well known? 1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia. 2. Guards win in March. 3. Black people can't swim.
12. Syracuse Orange - I want to like their chances, and a record of 20-4 says they are a threat, but I watched them play Pitt, Villanova, and Marquette and that patented 2-3 zone is extremely vulnerable this year. Put a couple of good guards out there and it morphs into swiss cheese (Jamie Feick -> hi). They'll be alright, but a team like Florida or Vandy will carve them up.
13. Wisconsin Badgers - I'm done evaluated this team. Obviously they are impervious to any sort of analysis based on paper, because they have outperformed expectations 38 years in a row, and once again they shouldn't be as good as they are. How far can a two-man team go? Why are you asking me? I already said I'm done trying to make sense of these nerds.
14. Purdue Boilermakers - I've said this in some variation in almost every Big Ten Power Poll, but I'll say it again: Purdue absolutely passes the eye test as a Final Four type contender, but in reality they haven't beaten anybody who is anywhere near a Final Four contender. So what do we make of this? Well, they play Wisconsin at home on Sunday and I think that game will give us a better idea of what we're working with here. Until then, I'm just going to stall whenever anybody asks my opinion of Purdue. Hold on, the baby's crying.
15. Arizona Wildcats - I have no idea how this team can be ranked this highly. Because they've won five straight in the crappy Pac-10? The only impressive victory in there is UCLA. Because their best win in non-conference was either NC State or Oklahoma? No, I'm sorry. I am a Derrick Williams fan, but he's got little help and their guard play is suspect at best. This team is absolutely first-round loss material.
16. Louisville Cardinals - No here, I think, is a sleeper, but I'm not quite sure. Pitino obviously knows how to coach, their guard play is superior, and that road win at UCONN is one of the more impressive that any team has picked up all year, especially managing to hold on through double-OT. I'm just not sure what to make of them outside of Siva and Knowles, and Terrence Jennings is the kind of guy who can just disappear for an entire game, which would spell their doom in March, which is a pretty dramatic and hacky way to put it.
17. Florida Gators - Their two leading scorers are guards, which is good, but those two guards are both semi-retarded gunners who both shoot less than 41% from the floor, which is bad. Honestly, this team could make the final four or lose in the first round and I wouldn't be shocked. Except for the make the Final Four thing. That would actually be pretty shocking. Sorry I lied.
18. Kentucky Wildcats - I personally think Terrence Jones is the most talented freshman in the country, and his raw ability is off the charts. Very similar to his teammate Brandon Knight, actually, which means this is yet another team that could go either way. Like your sister.
19. Missouri Tigers - This is a team I really like. They played extremely well against Kansas for an entire half+, and faltering down the stretch against the Jayhawks isn't anything to be ashamed of. They're another guard-oriented team, and an efficient offense combined with a circus-ball type style of play means they can beat anybody at any time.
21. Utah State Aggies - Most boring team in history. And I say this having attended multiple games at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in my life and had a rollicking good time on each occasion. But they're just kind of boring. They beat the crap out of bad teams and never play anyone good. Could they upset a team or two and reach the final 16? Absolutely. But they're just as likely to miss the tournament, because an early loss in the WAC tourney might knock them right out. Please, please, please beat St. Mary's in Bracket Busters. I don't know how I'd handle March without USU. Probably with a trip to Chicago and a bunch of booze, but I might just do that anyway.
22. Texas A&M Aggies - From 10th to 22nd, but I guess losing four out of five, including dropping a game to Nebraska (LOL) will do that. Despite his epic choke job against Texas I still really like Khris Middleton and if we were talking some one-on-one individual challenge I'd pick him as a sleeper, but it turns out in March they don't let you do that and they make you play 5-on-5, so my confidence in TAMU is significantly lacking.
23. Vanderbilt Commodores - The nerds of the Southeast, the Commies put Northwestern to shame because they will actually occasionally kick your ass on the basketball court. I definitely dig the Jeffery Taylor/John Jenkins combo although I'm not real confident in anybody else. With the right matchups they could end up making a nice postseason run but with the wrong ones we're looking at more of a waah wah.
24. Temple Owls - Rough year for the A-10 despite high expectations, and I'd be pretty surprised if any of their teams manage to make it through the first weekend of the tournament (sorry X). I guess Temple would have the best chance, but in case you can't tell I'm super enthused about it.
25. West Virginia Mountaineers - May as well change the team name to the Mediocriteers. They do have a guy like Casey Mitchell who can get hot enough to carry them to an upset or two in March, assuming he doesn't end up getting booted from the team, so I suppose that's nice.
There are a few other squads with a shot at making a mini-run despite not currently being ranked - Wichita State, George Mason, Washington, Marquette, UCLA, Baylor, and Missouri State are your notables, with Washington the most likely of that group to make a sustained run. Then you have some teams with votes that are basically guaranteed upset victims in the first: Illinois, Minnesota, Alabama, UNLV, Colorado State, and UTEP would fit in this bucket.
Well there you have it. Remember all this stuff, because it's genius, dawg. Genius.