The primary 4 days of the lads’s NCAA match had been outlined by historic upsets, dramatic finishes, and the sound of each bracket in America falling to items. March Insanity virtually by no means lets us down, and it delivered as soon as once more this yr.
From No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s stunning No. 2 seed Kentucky within the first spherical to Arizona’s thrilling additional time victory over TCU in spherical two, the primary 4 days of the lads’s match supplied so many memorable highlights. Whereas Baylor was the one No. 1 seed to get eradicated, this yr’s match nonetheless feels vast open as even favorites like Gonzaga and Arizona struggled to get by to the Candy 16.
Which staff is probably to win the championship because the match heads to its second week? Glad you requested. We ranked each staff left standing within the area by their possibilities of finally slicing down the nets in New Orleans.
16. No. 15 Saint Peter’s
Saint Peter’s completed three video games again of first place within the MAAC through the common season earlier than profitable the convention match, and it nonetheless entered the large dance with the lowest-rated offense of any NCAA match staff. This solely serves because the backstory for arguably probably the most unlikely Candy 16 run in NCAA match historical past. The Peacocks shocked a Kentucky staff that was a well-liked Last 4 choose (responsible), then proved it was no fluke by beating an excellent Murray State staff within the subsequent spherical. Peacock fever has formally swept by America.
Head coach Shaheen Holloway is doing one thing particular proper now. Saint Peter’s seems to be extremely locked in defensively, and has completed an awesome job of rebounding regardless of an absence of dimension. On offense, Holloway has his staff working pristine units to create open seems to be for his scorers. Doug Ebert and his ‘70s mustache have develop into iconic throughout this match. Junior guard Daryl Banks was large towards Kentucky, whereas 6’7 senior KC Ndefo was superior towards Murray State with 17 factors, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocks. This run has been an excessive amount of enjoyable, and it’s not over but.
15. No. 11 seed Michigan
It’s laborious to recollect now, however Michigan was No. 6 staff within the preseason AP Ballot earlier than simply barely sneaking into the match with the worst total file (17-14) of any staff within the area. The Wolverines seemed like they had been on their method to a primary spherical exit within the first half towards No. 6 seed Colorado State, however they caught fireplace within the second half and have stayed that method since. After knocking off a proficient Rams staff on Thursday, Michigan beat a Tennessee staff that simply rolled to the SEC match title. The entire sudden, Michigan is trying just like the staff we thought they’d be coming into the season.
Sophomore heart Hunter Dickinson was pegged as one of many prime gamers within the nation on preseason lists, and he performed prefer it towards Tennessee with 27 factors and 11 rebounds on 3-of-5 capturing from three-point vary. Tremendous senior Eli Brooks was scorching too, including a mixed 39 factors and 11 assists within the first weekend, to not point out his game-clinching hook shot towards the Vols. Freshman wing Caleb Houstan, projected as a top-10 NBA draft choose coming into the season, stays Michigan’s largest query. He was scoreless in 32 minutes towards Tennessee and has been underwhelming on each ends of the ground all season. This isn’t an actual Cinderella regardless of a double-digit seed subsequent to its names, however Michigan nonetheless has to grind out wins to maintain advancing.
14. No. 11 Iowa State
The Large 12 completed because the strongest convention in faculty basketball, per KenPom, and Iowa State can attest to it. The Cyclones solely went 7-11 in convention play and had been blown out by Texas Tech of their first Large 12 match recreation. Nonetheless, ISU snuck into the large dance off the power of their non-con schedule, and proper now it seems to be like all these powerful video games within the Large 12 are paying off.
The Cyclones outlasted No. 6 LSU down the stretch within the opening spherical, then received a rock battle vs. No. 3 seed Wisconsin in spherical two. Iowa State allowed 103 whole factors throughout the 2 video games, boosting its protection as much as No. 5 within the nation in the meanwhile. The Cyclones battle to attain largely due to an absence of capturing, however freshman level guard Tyrese Hunter can sometimes create attractiveness. With one other favorable matchup towards a double-digit seed in Miami within the Candy 16, Iowa State can nonetheless dream large within the dance.
13. No. 10 seed Miami
The Hurricanes have been superb on offense and tough on protection all year long, however you’d by no means comprehend it from watching them smoke No. 2 seed Auburn within the spherical of 32. The Hurricanes one way or the other led the Tigers’ all-world entrance courtroom combo of Jabari Smith Jr. and Walker Kessler to 3-of-22 capturing from the ground. On the opposite finish, Miami’s guards dominated Auburn’s, with Isaiah Wong placing up 21 factors and Kameron McGusty going off for 20 factors. With a matchup towards No. 11 seed Iowa State, there’s an actual probability this run isn’t over but.
12. No. 4 seed Arkansas
Arkansas didn’t have a simple staff getting by No. 13 seed Vermont or No. 12 seed New Mexico State through the first two rounds, however head coach Eric Musselman received’t care. After making an Elite Eight run final yr, the Hogs are again within the second weekend. It’s the primary time this system has made consecutive appearances within the second weekend since their golden period below Nolan Richardson within the mid ‘90s.
The Razorbacks’ protection is enjoying at a top-15 stage. They’ve one of many nice facilities within the nation in Jaylin Williams, a wise and artful large man who has a method of controlling the motion at each ends. JD Notae is the kind of senior guard you need in March, and Stanley Umude is a giant wing shooter. Clearly it received’t be simple towards Gonzaga, but when Williams and Notae play their finest, an upset isn’t totally out of the query.
11. No. 4 seed Windfall
The Friars received the Large East common season crown, however they nonetheless entered March Insanity as a well-liked first spherical upset choose towards a three-point completely satisfied South Dakota State staff. The Friars survived the opener, then pounded No. 12 seed Richmond two days after they upset Iowa within the first spherical. Now a Windfall staff many individuals thought was overrated all through the season as a consequence of their unbelievable file in shut video games is busting by to the second weekend with goals of advancing even additional.
That is the primary time Windfall has been within the Candy 16 since 1997. The Friars’ protection has been on fireplace, holding SDSU to .86 factors per possession, after which permitting solely .82 PPP towards Richmond. AJ Reeves and Al Durham are a top quality perimeter scoring duo, whereas Noah Horchler and Nate Watson present dimension on the aspect (Horchler went 4-of-6 from three vs. Richmond). Don’t take the Friars calmly anymore.
10. No. 8 seed North Carolina
Hubert Davis’ first season at North Carolina was trying like a bust halfway by January. Now UNC is rolling into the Candy 16 as one of many hottest groups within the nation. After pounding Marquette within the 8-9 matchup in spherical one, the Tar Heels held on for an exciting additional time victory towards No. 1 seed Baylor. It wasn’t simple: UNC practically blew a 25-point lead within the final 10 minutes, however hit sufficient photographs in additional time to develop into the primary staff to knock off a No. 1 seed.
Oklahoma switch Brady Manek performed unbelievable ball within the first weekend, averaging 27 factors per recreation regardless of getting toss towards Baylor on a controversial flagrant-2 name. The backcourt of RJ Davis and Caleb Love every had one nice recreation within the opening weekend, and Armando Bacot continues to be reliable inside. The Tar Heels have received 14 of their final 17 video games and eight of their final 9. Whereas this isn’t a UNC staff loaded with NBA prospects, the Heels have a proficient roster that’s peaking on the proper time.
9. No. 2 seed Villanova
Villanova didn’t have any All-People or first spherical NBA draft picks on their roster this yr, however the outcomes had been much like that of Jay Wright’s finest years. The Wildcats went 16-4 in convention play, then received the Large East match. Now Nova is again within the second weekend after caring for enterprise towards No. 15 seed Delaware and No. 7 seed Ohio State of their first two video games.
Villanova performs gradual, ball control-based offense behind fifth-year senior level guard Collin Gillespie. Jermaine Samuels, one other fifth-year senior who was on the 2018 nationwide title staff, is their go-to inside scoring possibility. Justin Moore is one other succesful shooter subsequent to Gillespie within the backcourt. Getting in an in depth recreation with Villanova is bother as a result of they’re the perfect free throw capturing staff within the nation at higher than 82 %. Wildcats basketball can really feel a little bit boring nowadays, however it’s laborious to argue towards the outcomes.
8. No. 5 seed Houston
The Cougars are the perfect program in males’s faculty basketball that will get the least quantity of publicity. Head coach Kelvin Sampson stamped his greatness final season with a Last 4 run, and now Houston is again within the second weekend of the match for the third consecutive yr. Even with out injured star guard Marcus Sasser, however Cougars throw waves of athletic expertise at opponents who play disciplined protection and virtually at all times transfer the ball into the fitting spot on offense.
Senior large man Fabian White and athletic senior wing Taze Moore every performed nice two-way video games in a spherical of 32 win over Illinois, whereas sophomore guard Jamal Shead matched his season-high with 18 factors. Houston is so laborious to beat just because they don’t beat themselves. With a star-studded recruiting class coming in subsequent yr together with the anticipated return of Sasser, Cougars basketball feels prefer it simply retains going up and up.
7. No. 3 seed Purdue
Purdue has been a superb offensive staff and a poor defensive staff all season, which has made them one of many extra irritating squads in America. For some time, it seemed just like the Boilermakers had been on observe to be a No. 1 seed. The expertise was at all times there: sophomore guard Jaden Ivey emerged as a famous person, and head coach Matt Painter discovered a stability splitting up his two expert facilities in Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. Purdue simply couldn’t get sufficient stops, although. By some means, the protection hasn’t actually been an issue by their first two match wins.
Purdue blew out Yale in spherical one, after which received a decent recreation towards Texas in spherical two by holding the Longhorns beneath 40 % from the sphere. Ivey was spectacular late, and Williams was unreal as an inside scorer, capturing 10-of-13 within the win. The Boilermakers now face No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s in a recreation everybody will anticipate them to win. If they’ll do it, a matchup with both No. 8 seed North Carolina or No. 4 seed UCLA will likely be ready. For as uneven as Purdue has been this yr, there’s no denying their expertise. With Ivey on the controls, a Last 4 run feels potential on this area.
6. No. 4 seed UCLA
A yr in the past, UCLA was the underachieving energy convention staff that acquired scorching on the proper time and went all the way in which to the Last 4 as a No. 11 seed earlier than dropping on Jalen Suggs’ halfcourt shot. The Bruins returned nearly all of the rotation this season, and began the yr No. 2 within the preseason polls. Whereas they couldn’t fairly stay as much as that sort of hype within the common season, these Bruins are constructed for March and so they’re once more enjoying their finest on the finish of the season.
The Bruins held on in an in depth recreation vs. Akron within the first spherical, then outlasted Saint Mary’s staff. There’s two stars right here in Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez (who could also be out with an harm), however greater than something UCLA has a balanced staff with none critical holes within the rotation. Tyger Campbell offers a gentle hand at level guard and has performed in large video games earlier than. The Bruins have dimension inside, and capturing on the wings with Jules Bernard. UCLA isn’t sneaking up on anybody this yr, however after losses to prime seeds Baylor and Kentucky of their area, a Last 4 repeat actually is likely to be within the playing cards.
5. No. 2 seed Duke
Duke is once more loaded with NBA prospects for Coach Okay’s final dance, however this staff was enjoying method below its expertise stage heading into this match. Shaky level guard play and a leaky protection had been causes to be involved about Duke’s possibilities within the bracket, however the Blue Devils have seemed fairly good by their first two wins. After coasting previous Cal St. Fullerton within the first spherical, the Blue Devils beat No. 7 seed Michigan State by overcoming a five-point deficit with 5 minutes left.
Paolo Banchero — our projected No. 1 total NBA draft choose — is a 6’10, 250-pound freshman ahead with immense offensive ability and takeover scoring skill. Sophomore heart Mark Williams and his 7’7 wingspan put a lid on the rim towards the Spartans, and might dunk all the things across the rim. The perfect information for Duke is that time guard Jeremy Roach is enjoying his finest ball of the yr on the proper time. The Blue Devils really feel like they not often play a whole recreation for each halves, on each ends of the ground, however their uncooked expertise is so overwhelming that they’ll nonetheless grind out wins. How lengthy will Coach Okay’s closing match run final? Your complete nation will likely be hanging on each recreation till it’s over.
4. No. 3 Texas Tech
Chris Beard left for Texas, however the Purple Raiders are nonetheless probably the most ferocious defensive staff within the nation. Credit score Mark Adams, the previous defensive assistant who was elevated to the pinnacle teaching chair this season, for rebuilding the roster by transfers whereas sustaining the tradition. Their complete rotation is made up of juniors or seniors, and everybody stands between 6’6 and 6’8.
Texas Tech needs to strangle opposing offenses to dying with self-discipline, power, and expertise at each place, and it’s been sufficient to will them to 2 match wins towards Montana State and Notre Dame up to now. The offense can get clunky and not using a true level guard or a lot capturing, however Bryson Williams, Kevin Obanor, and Kevin McCullar one way or the other at all times discover a method to get it completed. The Purple Raiders no title All-Stars now face Duke’s assortment of NBA expertise — and it’s going to be the perfect matchup of the Candy 16.
3. No. 1 seed Kansas
Kansas ought to be ok with their Last 4 possibilities even after getting pushed more durable than anticipated towards No. 8 seed Creighton within the spherical of 32. The Jayhawks had two large questions this season:
- Would their level guard play be ok to win in March?
- Who would emerge as their third scorer?
Remy Martin appears to be answering each questions proper now. The diminutive Arizona State switch went off for 20 factors within the win towards Creighton, after scoring 15 factors within the blowout towards No. 16 seed Texas Southern. Martin gives extra scoring punch than Dajuan Harris, and gives an launch valve when the opposition keys in on Kansas’ two wonderful wing scorers in Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. The Jayhawks must maintain heart David McCormick out of foul bother, however it seems like they’re enjoying their finest ball of the season proper now.
2. No. 1 seed Arizona
The Wildcats’ season was on the brink within the closing recreation of the spherical of 32 towards TCU. Trailing by three with below 15 seconds left, star guard Ben Mathurin drilled a deep three to tie the sport. After a wild sequence on the finish of regulation, Arizona locked down the win and a visit to the Candy 16 in additional time. The Wildcats ought to really feel extremely lucky to nonetheless be standing.
Mathurin has a case as probably the most dynamic participant within the nation. He’s an explosive athlete who can hammer dwelling dunks and sore for rebounds whereas additionally having deep capturing vary. Teammate Christian Koloko is considered one of faculty basketball’s most dominant defenders, an enormous rim protector who permits nothing simple within the paint. Arizona earned no type factors for having such a troublesome time with TCU, however this stays one of the vital proficient groups within the nation. The secret in March is survive and advance, and the Wildcats did it by the pores and skin of their enamel.
1. No. 1 seed Gonzaga
Gonzaga is the most secure wager in faculty basketball. The Zags have now made the second weekend of the match in seven consecutive years, with two journeys to the nationwide championship recreation within the final 4 years. In fact, head coach Mark Few and co. have nonetheless by no means received the nationwide title recreation, however these sort of issues traditionally linger over a program when it’s proper on the brink. As soon as once more, Gonzaga seems like the perfect staff within the nation.
We picked towards Gonzaga in our bracket predictions as a result of we thought they’d the hardest path within the Last 4 within the area. Memphis gave them a hell of a take a look at, however Gonzaga prevailed. It received’t be simple towards Arkansas within the Candy 16, and each Duke and Texas Tech may get them within the Elite Eight. The actual fact of the matter is that Gonzaga will likely be favored in each recreation they play as a result of they’ve the perfect mixture of expertise within the nation. The Drew Timme x Chet Holmgren entrance line is ridiculously productive and versatile. Andrew Nembhard is among the finest level guards within the nation, and has been a reliable starter for 4 years. Julian Strawther has taken a giant step up on the wing, and this yr’s Zags really feel deeper than final yr’s staff. Betting towards them is a harmful recreation. The street to the championship nonetheless runs by Gonzaga.