The Sweet 16 is here. The games begin tonight.
Who are you picking to advance? Who are you picking to win it all right now?
Before the NCAA Tournament started, Jay Bilas released his national title pick. He had Michigan State topping Virginia in the title game.
Welp. Both of those teams are done.
Who does he like now?
Bilas has Duke as the No. 1 team left right now.
The Blue Devils are the most talented team. And they are healthy. No team has trended up more than Duke has since Feb. 8, when the Blue Devils lost on the road to North Carolina. Since then, Duke has been Syracuse South, playing zone defense as its primary defense. Since that time, Duke has become one of the nation's best defensive teams. Over its past 11 games (since Feb. 11), Duke has allowed 91.1 points per 100 possessions, the third-best defensive efficiency in Division I. In that span, Duke has played zone defense 93 percent of the time, compared to 29 percent earlier in the season. Duke is the only team in the nation to rank in the top 10 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.
Duke has scored at least 85 points in back-to-back NCAA games for the first time since 2004, when it lost to UConn in the Final Four. Duke won its first two tournament games by 20-plus points. The other two times that happened, the Blue Devils reached the Final Four. Marvin Bagley III is the difference-maker. He has scored 44 points in the NCAA tournament, fourth-most in a player's first two career NCAA tournament games in Duke history. Duke rebounds 39 percent of its missed shots, the highest offensive rebounding percentage in Division I. The Blue Devils average 15.7 second-chance PPG, most among major-conference teams. Duke has 30 second-chance points in the NCAA tournament, tied for most among Sweet 16 teams (West Virginia).
Duke has looked good. Villanova has maybe looked better, though.
You can view Bilas' full rankings here.