By Kellan King
The Tigers are 16-1, with big wins over LSU, Alabama, and Loyola, and 9 Quad 1 and 2 wins. Freshman Jabari Smith continues to impress, and Auburn continues to roll.
After some early season troubles, the Zags are back to their dominant ways. Behind Center Drew Timme, Gonzaga has averaged 114 ppg through their first 3 conference games.
The Wildcats have been one of the most well rounded teams in the country so far. They’ve gotten contributions from the whole squad, including Freshman Benedict Mathurin. A road win over Illinois really showed how legit this Arizona team is.
This season, the Cougars have shown that they are here to stay. Dominant wins over Virginia, Oregon, and Oklahoma State highlight their resume, and 2 close losses away from home to Alabama and Wisconsin should hold up well.
The Boilermakers are led by one of the most interesting duos in the country, big men Trevion Williams and Zach Edey. A win over Villanova highlights their resume, and their road win over Illinois on Monday solidified them in the Top 5.
Just like Arizona, the Jayhawks are very well rounded. Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, and Remy Martin all help lead KU. The Big 12 is super tough, but if those 3 stay healthy, the Jayhawks should come out on top.
Along with KU, Baylor sits at the top of the Big 12. Transfer guard James Akinjo alongside with last year’s holdovers Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer have led the Bears to a strong start. However, losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State showed the Bears can be beat.
If Villanova had 2 more rotation players, they would be a top 3 team. However, with their 6 guys, they are still one of the best teams in the country. The backcourt of Collin Gillespie and Justin Moore will need to continue playing great if Villanova wants to make a deep run.
The Wildcats of old are no more. Kentucky is led by an experienced bunch, with POTY favorite Oscar Tshiebwe leading the way. A 28 point win over Tennessee over the weekend showed how dominant the Wildcats can be.
Is LSU a basketball school? If the Tigers keep playing this way, they might become one. Tari Eason dominates off the bench, and Will Wade has LSU playing like the best defense in the country.
Without Kofi Cockburn, Illinois looked average. But with the big man, the Illini are great. Cockburn is averaging over 20 ppg, and Illinois has wins over Iowa and Michigan.
The Blue Devils are led by potential #1 pick Paolo Banchero. Banchero can do it all, and has a strong supporting cast, with experienced guys like Wendell Moore and Mark Williams. However, losses to Miami and FSU should not be happening.
After a Final 4 run last year, expectations were high, and the Bruins have done pretty well. Tyger Campbell has improved a lot, and Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez are themselves. Their early season win over Villanova looks better by the day.
On paper, the Badgers have one of the most impressive resumes in the country. Wins over Houston, Purdue, Iowa, and Ohio State. All of those are very impressive, but they also have a lot of close wins. If the Badgers can keep winning close games, they’ll keep climbing.
Xavier is just a well rounded team. They get to the line, make their free throws, rebound well, and play good defense. This formula has led them to wins over Ohio State, Marquette, and Creighton.
- Ohio State
The Buckeyes can play with anyone in the country. EJ Lidell has led them a win over Duke, and all their losses are close losses to top 25 teams. If the Buckeyes can find some help for Liddell, they could finish the season strong.
- Texas Tech
Just like Ohio State, the Red Raiders can beat anyone. They beat Baylor and Kansas in back to back games! However, they struggle to score at times, the the 64 ranked offense in KenPom.
- Michigan State
The Spartans are a very good team, with wins over Loyola and UCONN. Gabe Brown, Tyson Walker, and Freshman Max Christie all can score the ball a lot for the Spartans. However in 2 games against top teams, Baylor and Kansas, MSU got blown out.
Loyola is a machine on offense. They have guys who can score from all 3 levels, shooting deep 3s, and killing you in the post. However, they lack that signature win, but they have played well against top teams like MSU and Auburn, albeit in 2 losses.
A week ago, USC was a top 5 team. Isaiah Mobley was dominating, and transfer Boogie Ellis was distributing the ball well. However, they lost 2 games to 2 average teams in Stanford and Oregon.
The Vols are one of the best defensive teams in the country, with big men Olivier Nkamhoua and John Fulkerson anchoring the team. Guard Kennedy Chandler leads the offensive, but he can at times be streaky.
Davidson is not a team I’d want to see in March. 14 game win streak, 42% shooting from 3. Enough said.
The Friars win games. Wins over Wisconsin, Texas Tech, and UCONN speak for themselves. However, they fail to score the ball at times, and don’t have a lot of shooting.
The Cowboys are surging. Back to back road wins over Mountain West elites Nevada and Utah State, led by Graham Ike, have Wyoming looking at the Tournament.
- Murray State
The Racers have a really solid resume. Wins over Memphis, Belmont, and Chattanooga, and a competitive loss to Auburn. Coach Matt McMahon is really building a solid program.
Just missed the cut
Iowa State, UCONN, Alabama