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NCAAB power rankings: Unbeaten Gonzaga remains on top

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

March 12th, 2021

It's time for our final power rankings of 2021. These rankings only considered games before conference tournament play, because of the staggered start of the competitions.

Let’s see where the top teams in the nation rank before March Madness begins!

1. Gonzaga (24-0)

The Bulldogs had a week off from play, and held the top seed in the WCC Tournament this week. The team won its final 22 games by double-digit margins, and are the favorite to win the NCAA Tournament.

The Zags had four players named to the All-WCC first team, and are one of the most balanced units in America. They have a strong chance to be the first unbeaten national champion in decades.

2. Baylor (21-1)

Baylor finished the regular season strong, with double-digit wins over a pair of ranked opponents at home. MaCio Teague made 10 three-pointers in the Bears' 15-point victory against Texas Tech over the weekend, which set a school record.

Baylor’s stellar backcourt of Teague, Jared Butler, and Davion Mitchell has shown it is of taking games over, and that is a recipe for a deep run into the tournament. If the Bears can avoid a shooting slump, they look like a lock for the Final Four.

3. Illinois (20-6)

The Fighting Illini capped off an impressive regular season with a five-point win at Ohio State and likely secured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, barring an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament. They have the most "quad 1" victories in the nation and the fourth-toughest schedule.

Illinois had 11 wins in its last 12 regular season games, and four of its six defeats came to teams that were ranked. With Ayo Dosunmu back from injury, this is a dangerous, balanced team that will be ready to go in the "Big Dance."

4. Michigan (19-3)

The Wolverines split a pair of games with Michigan State to close the regular season. They lost the services of guard Eli Brooks, and he is expected to miss at least the Big Ten Tournament with an ankle injury.

If Brooks is out beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, it would be a huge blow to Michigan's title hopes. While his offensive output can be replaced, he is one of the best defenders on the team and brings energy at both ends of the floor.

For now, the Wolverines must focus on the Big Ten Tournament and have a strong performance to lock down the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

5. Iowa (20-7)

A run through the Big Ten Tournament could give the Hawkeyes a huge lift. They ended the season with seven wins in their final eight games, and the sole defeat came at Michigan.

Luka Garza repeated as the Big Ten Player of the Year, and the school announced this week that they will retire the number of their program’s leading all-time scorer. If the injury to forward Joe Wieskamp is serious, the pressure on Garza will increase even more.

6. Alabama (21-6)

The Crimson Tide found the perfect time to end its offensive woes, as Alabama poured it on against Georgia with a 59-point second half. However, 22 turnovers against the Bulldogs is a significant concern for an offense that has been struggling the past few weeks.

One huge concern for the Tide heading into tournament play is free-throw shooting. No player averaging more than 10 minutes shoots better than 80% from the line, and only one makes more than 76% of their shots from the charity stripe. That will likely be Alabama's downfall in March.

7. Arkansas (21-5)

The Hogs are red hot entering the SEC Tournament, with 11 wins in their last 12 games.

Over his last two games, guard Moses Moody has averaging 28 points and shot better than 50% from three-point range.

Arkansas ranks 10th in the nation in points per game averages 40 rebounds per game, which ranks 25th.

It will likely take a top-tier defense to slow the Razorbacks down, and they are one of my dark horses entering the NCAA Tournament.

8. Kansas (19-8)

The Jayhawks followed up their huge win over Baylor with a near stumble against UTEP, as they trailed by double figures before a rally to win. David McCormack had a double-double in the victory, but only two other players scored in double figures.

Kansas' major weakness is an inability to make threes, and come tournament time, that will be exploited. A longer team that makes it tough for them to score inside will give the Jayhawks problems.

9. Oklahoma State (18-7)

The Cowboys are playing well at just the right time.

They've won six of their last seven games, with the only defeat at Baylor. They defeated West Virginia to end the regular season, despite the absence of star guard Cade Cunningham. Trailing by five points at the half, guard Avery Anderson III took over and scored 31 points in the victory, 20 more than his season average.

The Cowboys shoot just 33.8% from three-point range, and that number drops even more when you remove Cunningham’s 42.5% average. Their inability to score consistently from the outside is a big concern heading into the NCAA Tournament.

10. Ohio State (18-8)

No team has seen its stock fall more down the stretch than the Buckeyes, who have lost their last four games. The only reason they did not slide all the way out of the rankings is three of those defeats came to teams ranked in the top 10.

Their defense is not good enough to make much of a run in the NCAA Tournament. In Big Ten play, their opponents ended their possessions with a shot in 17 of 20 plays, and too many of those shots are going in.

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