I wrote all about the top teams in college basketball, hope you enjoy!
It’s nothing special, just came up with it a few years ago and it factors strength of schedule, PPG, OPPG, FT%, FG%, and 3P%. It factors in all of those to make a percent chance to win.
Tier 1 is the serious title contenders, the teams I can see winning it. Tier 2 is teams I don’t think will win, but could still go far. Tier 3 is teams that it depends on the matchups for how far they go. If the committee gives them the right matchup, they could make the final four. However, if they get an unfavorable matchup, it could be an early exit. Tier 4 is the early exits.
Let’s get to it.
Tier 1: Baylor
Currently the #1 team in the entire country, Baylor has come back from their title run better than ever. Despite losing most of their starting lineup to professional sports, the Bears are still the #1 team in the country. The Baylor Bears are lethal on both ends of the floor. They are currently top 20 in points per game and opponent points per game. James Akinjo has proven to be a great transfer for Baylor, as he is their reading scorer with 14 PPG. That’s another recipe for success. They have 5 players averaging at least 9 points per game (plus Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua hovering at 8.9) which is extremely impressive. They are also super efficient. They hit about half their shots, good for 13th in all of college basketball. Their rim protection is lethal with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba, and Jeremy Sochan. They also have a projected lottery pick this year, Kendall Brown, who is averaging almost 12 on great splits. He’s a good passer (don’t let his assist numbers fool you). The only true problem for this team is that their subpar free throw shooting could become a problem. Free throws were a huge reason they won last year. This could end up being Vital (get it? Because he was a terrible free throw shooter) to their success in March Madness. It is much harder to close out games if you are constantly missing free throws. As I’m writing this, they have 2 great wins against ranked teams. They had a powerful win against Michigan State, showing off their top-tier offense. Add that with their top 10 defense (just ask Villanova), and you’ve got a serious title contender.
Chance to Beat Teams in their Tier: Gonzaga (49.7%), Arizona (34.1%)
Tier 1: Gonzaga
Gonzaga most likely has the best frontcourt combination in all of college basketball, bar none. Chet Holmgren is thriving on both ends of the floor and Timme has also been playing very well. They obviously aren’t at the level of last year’s #1 ranked team, but after losing 3 of their best players to the NBA Draft, they have rebounded very well. Gonzaga can score from inside and the outside, considering how Rasir Bolton is a knockdown shooter. Holmgren’s also a pretty good shooter. Their offense is top 5 in the nation and their defense is top 20. They score more efficiently than any other team in college basketball. Their 2P% and FG% as a whole are both first in all of college basketball. The Zags are also a top rebounding team in the country. Holmgren, Timme, and guard Julian Strawther combined have been averaging over 20 rebounds per game. Gonzaga lost to Duke in a very close game, which is not great but an excusable loss. They also lost to 15. Alabama also beat them in a high-scoring game, 91-82, which could be concerning. Some good wins include beating UCLA by 20. They built up a huge lead on the Bruins, and never let it go. Andrew Nembhard played great in that game. Gonzaga also beat 14. Texas and 25. Texas Tech. Gonzaga has multiple good wins on their resume and seems like a favorite to be a one seed. My only gripe about their team is that their 3P shooting and free throw shooting, the percentages that carry over most to a single-elimination tournament, are not great. They are fine, but not what I’m aiming for for a title contender.
Baylor (50.3%), Arizona (35.3%)
Tier 1: Arizona
Best offense in all of college basketball + great defense = championship contender. Arizona is likely the biggest sleeper team in all of college basketball. Their pace is extremely beneficial when it comes to scoring. Ben Mathuren is averaging 19 per game on great splits. The Wildcats get a lot more scoring opportunities due to their extremely fast style of play. They have 4 players averaging over 12 points per game. They average a shocking 90 points per game as a team, easily first in college basketball, however, if you adjust for pace, they are 7th, which is still extremely impressive. They run teams off of the court with their great transition offense. They are constantly running as they control the pace of the game. Azuolas Tubelis is sneaky good at defense. Tubelis also scores 15 a game. Kerr Kriisa’s a pretty good ball handler and playmaker. Christian Koloko is one of the top defenders in college basketball. They are a top 5 defense in all of the NCAA and top teams don’t even seem to faze them. They’ve also got a pretty good defense in the sense that when they have to play defense, they seriously perform. Their games are super high scoring because, you guessed it, extremely fast pace. They are 11th in the country for defensive rating, which adjusts to pace. Arizona is also the best rebounding team in the entire country, which is in part because extra plays give them extra misses by the defense. They are 1st in assists which is also a nod to their transition offense. All in all, their great transition offense leads to good consequences everywhere in their game. They are a great two way team and are also pretty deep. All things considered, this team could be the favorite to win the championship.
Baylor (69.6%), Gonzaga (65.6%)
Tier 2: Duke
This indeed is Coach K’s last dance, and he has so far made the most of it, recruiting lots of good players. The pitch was simple, be one of the last players Coach Mike Krzyzewski ever coaches. They ended up with Paolo Banchero (17 and 8 on average splits), Wendell Moore (16, 5, and 5 on great shooting), and Trevor Keels (13 and 3 and a half boards on bad splits). I’m fairly low on Keels, he tends to be unfocused on defense at times and needs to get better at shooting. This team is very good on offense. They have many threats to score at any time. They are also very good at not turning the ball over, with less than 10 turnovers per game. Duke is decent on defense. They are very good at not fouling, which in part is credit to Coach K. Speaking of Coach K, experienced coaches routinely do very well in March Madness. They have a starting lineup that hasn’t changed all season which has done really well. They are a deep team because their starting lineup is very good, yet their bench is also very good. Adrian Griffin Jr hasn’t started one game this season and he is supposed to be a first round pick. He is very athletic and is a pretty good shooter. The only thing holding him back is injury concerns. Duke has multiple good wins, including against #2 Gonzaga. They won in a nail biter. However, they have one bad loss against Miami where Trevor Keels shot 2-11, including missing a potentially game-winning three pointer with no time left. Their strength of record could be a problem, as they have just 3 Q1 wins. Auburn and Baylor have 7. Duke has 3, and a loss. This team could be very good in March Madness considering they are pretty good on both ends and have a very experienced coach.
Tier 2: Auburn
Auburn has one of the best frontcourts in college basketball. Walker Kessler broke out this season and became the most underrated transfer in the NCAA. Kessler has been a machine at blocking shots, racking up over 4 per game! After getting no playing time at North Carolina because he was behind so many bigs in the rotation (like Day’Ron Sharpe, for one), he decided to transfer to Auburn. It has paid off now, as he’s averaging a 10/8/4 blocks. Against LSU, Kessler got a triple double with 11 blocks. He’s completely broken out this season. Enter Jabari Smith Jr. JBS has shown great stretching ability so far as his 3P% is somehow above his 2P%. His rebounding is very good and his game translates great into the current NBA. Combine these two players and you get one of the best frontcourts in all of college basketball. They have the best rim protection in all of college basketball. KD Johnson (hate that name) is a very good scorer. Their one loss came against the small-ball UCONN Huskies. Their tallest player on their entire team is 6’10 and he didn’t even play that game. The tallest player was 6’9. The Tigers thrive on guarding the basket, but they didn’t need to do that that game. That’s why they lost. They beat LSU pretty easily, who is ranked 21st.
Tier 3: Purdue
Purdue is a very tough team for me to gauge how good they are. They are showing flashes of being a title contender, however, they are susceptible to big games from combo guards and wings. I used to have them as my title-favorite, lock it in, but I have changed my stance on them. Jaden Ivey is a great slashing point guard, who can also shoot pretty well. Zach Edey is very tall and scores in the paint with ease. Trevion Williams is also a very good big who scores in the paint well. However, one out of Williams and Edey must sit. They can’t play together. Purdue has one of the best offenses in college basketball, but their defense is not good at all. They have now given up 3 big games to combo guards and wings. Given how star guards and wings have had big games against them, they will win their next 5 games but lose to Iowa. Iowa has Keegan Murray, which, according to this concept, will surely have a big game. And yes, Purdue has already played and beat Iowa by 7…without Keegan Murray. Purdue gave up 30 to Ron Harper Jr from Rutgers in a loss, 37 to Johnny Davis in a loss, and almost lost to Penn State after giving up 21 and 10 to Jalen Pickett. Purdue hasn’t been shooting well recently, either. Their defense simply isn’t there for them to be a serious contender. Also, it’s not even like they have any great wins. Their best win is against Villanova, their only ranked win. Purdue will surely struggle against top teams, and for this reason, they are no longer my pick for March Madness Champion 2022.
Tier 3: UCLA
UCLA’s one of the most overrated teams in all of college basketball. They’ve got two good guards in Jaime Jazquez and Johnny Juzang, but their team is top-heavy. They are a decent but inconsistent 3P shooting team. Their 3 point percentage has dropped 2% since conference play started. They are 9th in the Pac-12 in 3P%, at 32.4. They have not yet proven they can defend against the best teams in the country, as they have given up an average of 80 points per game to ranked teams in their two games against them. Their defense has been better lately, but this could be mostly because of an easy schedule. UCLA almost lost to California a few days ago. They played very sloppily that game and almost let their lead slip away. Their one loss is to Gonzaga by 20, which should be very concerning. They barely beat Villanova, almost letting it slip away in the second half, but they pulled off a good comeback. UCLA’s playing a lot worse especially defensively, against good teams, which should be concerning. Their bad field goal percentage should make this team very streaky and unstable in March Madness. I don’t see this team faring well in March. UCLA’s RPI is 22nd in all of college basketball, which proves my theory that they cannot beat great teams. All in all, UCLA is one of the most overrated teams in college basketball, and beating Arizona (their next ranked game) on Feb 3rd convincingly is the only thing that could prove otherwise.
Kansas (27.7%), LSU (32.1%), USC (63.1%)
Tier 3: Kansas
For the first time in a while, Kansas has flown under the radar of teams people think of for contenders. Much of that is due to them not being the best team in their conference, but Kansas is still surely a top 10 team in college basketball. Ochai Agbaji is becoming one of the best players in the country, averaging an electrifying 20 on great splits. He's been shooting very well recently. Pairing him and Christian Braun (averaging 16/6/3 on pretty good splits) makes one of the best duos in the country. Their small lineup has worked decent so far, but Kansas is too top-heavy for my likings. Their rebounding is also subpar. They could be a dangerous team to watch, but they could very easily lose to a super deep team, or if Braun and Agbaji aren’t shooting well in a game, that could be catastrophic for their title chances. They’ve been flying under the radar a bit, as they are 5th in RPI this year and 3-0 in Quadrant 1 games.
UCLA (72.3%), LSU (54.4%), USC (17%)
Tier 3: LSU
This is the scariest defensive team in the NCAA. Tari Eason is a crazy good wing defender, and also pretty good on offense. He’s also a good rebounder. He’s a great all-around player, however not the best shooter. Alex Fudge and Efton Reid are also very good defenders. The Tigers are the #1 defense in all of college basketball, with multiple good players. LSU gives up a shocking 35% of their field goals to their opponents. LSU’s shooting is subpar, but their defense more than makes up for it. They are also a great rebounding team. They are 14-1, with their only loss coming against the Auburn Tigers. They've also beat two other ranked teams, Kentucky and Tennessee. LSU could be a scary team to watch, however their offense isn’t the greatest. Shooting transates great to March Madness, and their 3P% is not good at all. A team has never won the championship with that bad of a 3P%, at 32.3%. This team could go pretty far, to the Sweet 16 or Elite 8, however I don't see them winning it all. They are the best in the country at one end of the floor, but not great at the other.
UCLA (67.9%), Kansas (45.4%), USC (81.1%)
Tier 4: USC
When 2003 Shaq shoots a better FT% than your entire team, that is a huge problem. Being 13-0 doesn’t make you a top-5 team in the country, as I will prove. They won’t be able to close games if they don’t make their free throws. They are barely above 60% from the stripe. They haven’t played against any remotely good team this season, so we technically can’t prove this, but that’s my theory. Their defense is 35th in all of college basketball, which makes sense considering their cupcake schedule. They gave up 71 points to Dixie State. Who even is Dixie State??? So yeah, it makes sense that this team is undefeated, but why are they ranked so high? Their schedule has been so easy, we have no proof this team won’t get blown out by Arizona, their first ranked opponent on February 5th. Also, they only beat UC Irvine by 5! The Anteaters are 6-4 in a bad conference! Anyway, you're probably thinking, is there anything good about this team? Well, I guess I will have to give you the other side of the story. USC is 13-0 in a pretty good conference (they have barely played any conference games but whatever) and they are one of the best rebounding teams in the country, which does translate to March Madness well. They have an underrated big man duo in Isaiah Mobley and Chevez Goodwin who average 16 combined boards per game. Their opponents shoot 35.6% FG% against them, good for third in the country (due to bad teams). They are bound to lose to a bad team at some point. All in all, this team will get beat by NJIT or UC Riverside or Chattanooga (hehe that’s fun to say) in the first round most likely.
UCLA (36.9%), Kansas (17%), LSU (18.8%)
Hope you enjoyed it and learned a lot about college basketball! Also you are a beast if you read this whole thing. Almost out of characters omg.