April 14, 2024

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NCAA Tournament Power Rankings: Elite Eight reseeded with two No. 1 seeds eliminated

NCAA Tournament Power Rankings: Elite Eight reseeded with two No. 1 seeds eliminated

The Athletic has live coverage of the NCAA Tournament.

(Editor's note: This is part of Central chain bracketan inside look at the lead-up to the men's and women's NCAA tournaments, along with analysis and picks during the tournaments.)

The Sweet 16 matchups in the NCAA Tournament were not disappointing. Six of the eight games were decided by single digits, and a pair of No. 1 seeds were eliminated. Oh, and the No. 11 seed that was previously 17-14 in the ACC Tournament is still up.

All four Elite Eight matchups offer plenty of suspense: UConn vs. Illinois, and Alabama vs. Clemson, and Duke vs. NC State, Purdue vs. Tennessee. The Duke-NC State, Alabama-Clemson and Purdue-Tennessee games are rematches of earlier games from this season.

With the regional finals just around the corner, here are the latest NCAA Tournament power rankings for all eight remaining national title contenders. We will update this standings after each round until the start of the Final Four. If the Sweet 16 is any indication, the remaining eight teams should put on a great showing. Which teams are in the best position to win the tournament? Here's a look at where things stand.

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The Huskies have been a freight train hurtling through the NCAA Tournament. once again. The most recent example came in the Sweet 16 when UConn beat San Diego State 82-52 to advance to an Elite Eight matchup against Illinois. Cam Spencer scored 18 points as one of four players to score in double figures. The defending national champion won his three NCAA Tournament games by an average of 28.7 points. UConn coach Dan Hurley has so much confidence in his team that he recently described the group as “bulletproof.” So far, it's hard to argue with that assessment.

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No. 5 San Diego State

82-52

Matt Painter has Purdue on the brink of history with an 80-68 win over Gonzaga. Purdue can reach the Final Four for the first time since 1980 by defeating Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Purdue spent the entire season trying to respond to losing its first-round NCAA Tournament game as a No. 1 seed a year ago, and the Boilermakers met that challenge. Zach Eddy scored 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Gonzaga, while Braden Smith added 14 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds. Purdue beat both Gonzaga and Tennessee earlier this season in the Maui Invitational and will have to do it again with so much at stake.

No. 16 Grambling State

78-50

Illinois has played as well as any team in the country over the past month, winning 10 of its last 11 games and showing its talent and grit by beating Iowa State 72-69 in the Sweet 16. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored for the team-high 29 points and scored his seventh straight game without Less than 20 points. This is the first time Illinois has reached the Elite Eight since the Illini were national runner-up 19 years ago. Illinois has some outstanding pieces. Shannon, Marcus Domasek and Coleman Hawkins are all averaging double figures in scoring. But the next test will be the toughest against top-seeded UConn.

No. 14 Morehead State

85-69

Duke defeated No. 1 seed Houston 54-51, making several crucial defensive stops down the stretch to keep the Cougars 23 points below their season average. Kyle Filipowski (16 points) and Jeremy Roach (14 points) scored in double figures for the Blue Devils. An Elite Eight matchup against fellow ACC foe ACC State is next.

No. 12 James Madison

93-55

The fast pace at which Alabama plays continues to pay dividends. Alabama beat No. 1 seed North Carolina 89-87 to advance to its second Elite Eight ever (and first since 2004). Grant Nelson was the star of the show, scoring 19 of his 24 points in the second half and finishing with 12 rebounds and five blocks. Rylan Griffin and Aaron Estrad each scored 19 points, and Mark Sears added 18 points. And now comes the postseason game most fans are accustomed to seeing in football: Alabama vs. Clemson.

No. 1 North Carolina

89-87

Chase Hunter converted a three-point play with 25.7 seconds remaining to put No. 2 seed Arizona away during Clemson's 77-72 Sweet 16 victory. The Tigers advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1980. Hunter led Clemson with 18 points, while P.J. Hall scored 17. 1 point and Ian Shefflin 14 points. Clemson can reach the Final Four ever with a win over Alabama.

NC State's magical run continued with a 67-58 win over No. 2 Marquette, which moved the Wolfpack to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986. That marked eight straight victories for NC State, which has won all five games in which it has played. ACC Championship to earn a spot in the big dance. DJ Horn scored 19 points, and Mohamed Diarra added 11 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. NC State plays a Duke team that the Wolfpack beat 74-69 during the ACC Tournament, though Duke won the regular season matchup between the two teams.

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(Top photo by Grant Nelson: Kirby Lee/USA Today)