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2022 NCAA Tournament: Ranking the Sweet 16 Teams

Gabe Kalscheur, Iowa State Cyclones vs. Wisconsin Badgers in second round of 2022 NCAA Tournament

Gabe Kalscheur and the surprising Iowa State Cyclones are one of four double-digit seeds in this year's Sweet 16

It's March and, after a particularly wide-open college basketball season, perhaps it's no surprise to see that madness has returned all over the country.

This year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has a little bit of everything for everyone too. We've got a Cinderella from Jersey, shirtless coaches from Houston, incredible turnarounds out of Ames and Miami, plus a handful of traditional powers aiming for additional banners to hang up at the start of next season. Oh, and it's only the winningest coach of all-time's last dance to boot.

How will things shake out between now and New Orleans though? Here's how each of the remaining teams left in the tourney stack up against each other in a re-seeding of the Sweet 16.

1. Gonzaga

The good news for the 'Zags is that they are unlikely to face a team as athletic as second-round opponent Memphis until perhaps the national championship game. Drew Timme (back-to-back games of at least 25 pts., 10 reb.) remains one of the most fun-to-watch players in the tourney and he's backed by a group that has plenty of talent, one of the most experienced coaches around in Mark Few, and resolve after the way things ended last year. The biggest downside for the top overall seed is that they're in the only region where the other top three seeds will also be making the trip to San Francisco.

2. Arizona

After rolling through the Pac-12, the Wildcats got a wake-up call on Sunday against TCU to live up to the survive-and-advance mantra of the tourney. Kerr Kris still doesn't look like he's at 100 percent after his ankle injury but that might not matter if Benedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko are throwing it down and bombing 3-pointers like they have been. There's a lot to clean up if you're Tommy Lloyd but the ceiling for this team remains cutting down the nets in the Big Easy.

3. Villanova

You look at the calendar and just know that the Wildcats are ready to hit that extra gear. Jay Wright's team isn't quite as talented overall as some of his previous national title teams but you can see that all the ingredients have carried over into this group, starting with cool-as-ice veteran Collin Gillespie. His shooting and moxie have come up big so far and he also has helped key a revived defensive effort that is really doing a number on opponents along the perimeter. Maybe just as important in close nail-biters you're bound to have in these rounds: they make their free throws and know exactly how to get out of pressure.

4. Kansas

The Jayhawks held off Creighton to advance but really enter the Sweet 16 with few excuses for making the Final Four considering how good they are and how much the rest of the bracket has opened up for them. Remy Martin has gotten hot at the right time and the transfer is joined by the usual collection of talented stars from Lawrence like Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji too. This hasn't quite been a vintage KU season but few would doubt their ability to do damage the rest of the way right now.

5. Houston

Cougars fans would have called you crazy if you would have told them they'd eventually have KenPom's No. 2 team in the country headed to a third straight Sweet 16 after they lost their two top players in late December. Yet here they are, a testament to Kelvin Sampson's coaching and the length and athleticism they bring to the table on both ends. Taze Moore was among several that had the hot hand against Big Ten champ Illinois and the entire roster is finding their groove at just the right time (11 wins in the last 12 games plus conference regular-season and tourney titles).

6. Duke

All of the hype and focus is on Mike Krzyzewski's final NCAA Tournament run but that obscures the fact that the Blue Devils clearly have the talent to win it all — if they can keep growing together into a cohesive unit. Paolo Ranchero looks the part of a top-five pick in the NBA draft and has continued to showcase his skills for long stretches. Mark Williams has continued to come along while vet Wendell Moore Jr. has been steady in helping run the show. The team has looked young all too often in losses this season but you can tell why they've got a group that could keep on rolling all the way to a storybook ending.

7. Purdue

Jaden Ivey. Does one really have to say much more than that? The explosive potential lottery pick has a knack for big shots in big moments but he leads a pretty stellar offense that is capable of running and gunning with the best of them. They've fought off some decent challenges so far to move to the second weekend but will need to focus on stops down the stretch if they're to really make the next leap from a fun team to watch to a true contender.

8. UCLA

After getting pushed in the first round by Akron, the Bruins took care of business to look much more like the program that is capable of making yet another magical Final Four run. Tyger Campbell is such a great veteran point that is invaluable this time of year and the group has continued to get contributions from Jules Bernard and Cody Riley as star Johnny Juzang works his way back into shape. Jaime Jaquez Jr's sprained ankle is a concern as crunch time approaches in the second weekend but this remains a tough-minded crew with a coach who continues to push the right buttons in March.

9. Texas Tech

KenPom's top-ranked defense in the country is into the Sweet 16 for the first time under new head coach Mark Adams and just the fifth in school history. The veteran assistant-turned-HC has a bought-in and hungry squad ready to keep things rolling despite a late test from 11-seed Notre Dame in San Diego over the weekend. They are much better than others from the charity stripe to close out wins and really bring a balance that is rare to find in today's age of shortened benches for the big dance.

10. North Carolina

On one hand, the Tar Heels have used March to ruin their biggest rival's night in a nearly unfathomable way and then knocked out the reigning national champs. Of course, they've also sandwiched in a blowout to Virginia Tech and blown a 25-point lead too so if there's any team fully embracing its inner Jekyll/Hyde, it's UNC. Still, Armando Bacot is a load pretty much every night and they've got some other scorers capable of going off in big ways like RJ Davis and Brady Manek. This isn't quite the level of a team we're used to seeing out of the Heels in the tourney but they're plenty capable and lurking as a danger to all in front of them.

11. Arkansas

Eric Musselman gets the benefit of having another coach in the regional overshadow his return to one of his old NBA stops but has delighted Hogs fans with these back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances. Their perimeter defense has been impressive (19 turnovers forced last round) and they helped really clamp down on prodigious New Mexico State scorer Teddy Allen to punch their ticket heading west. They've won two close ones so know how things go when it gets tight but will need to take it to another level in order to pull off the upset of No. 1 Gonzaga on Thursday.

12. Providence

Ed Cooley has done a remarkable job with the Friars and really surprised a number of folks who had this group as a potential early out against hot-shooting South Dakota State. Instead, the defense has clicked at the right time and others like Noah Horchler have stepped up on the other end to help the program reach its first Sweet 16 since 1997. This group never seemed to get the proper level of recognition for winning the Big East regular-season title this year but that has quickly changed in shutting others up when it matters most.

13. Miami

Crafty ol' Jim Larranaga seems like a maestro at pushing the right buttons in March and has figured something out with the Hurricanes in beating two tough opponents in USC and Auburn — both of which were top-10 teams at a point this season. Charlie Moore is returning to his hometown on a stat-stuffing heater to make it all go and help this group look a lot more dangerous than people are giving them credit for.

14. Michigan

Between his fisticuffs earlier this season and his comforting of a Tennessee player, Juwan Howard has been front and center in college basketball on both ends of the spectrum this month. The uneven nature of the way things have transpired between the two events seems to showcase the resilience in this group, which had the talent to be a top-five preseason team but never could put it together… until now, it seems. DeVante' Jones' health is a bit of a concern but this is still a dangerous group playing with their backs against the wall.

15. Iowa State

It's probably still inconceivable to Cyclones fans that this program went from two wins in 2020-21 to the Sweet 16 (while rival Iowa sits at home again) a year later. Izaiah Brockington is the top option but the rotating cast of characters keeps stepping up around him as Gabe Kalscheur did in beating Wisconsin in a rock fight of a game.

16. Saint Peter's

All hail the Peacocks! This has to be one of the best mid-major stories to come along in a while, especially with head coach Shaheen Holloway leading a Jersey school to this round for the first time since… Shaheen Holloway did so over two decades ago. They're undersized but that hasn't stopped them one bit in the way they pester you into taking bad shots while finding shooters like KC Ndefo and new March Madness star Doug Edert on the other end. One thing is for sure, they won't be invited to play in the Commonwealth of Kentucky any time soon after this year's run.

— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.