Jay Bilas’ 1-68 school basketball rankings: Champ Week version

This is the perfect time of the yr for a basketball lover. The finish of the faculty season is...

· 15 min read >
Jay Bilas' 1-68 college basketball rankings: Champ Week edition

This is the perfect time of the yr for a basketball lover. The finish of the faculty season is upon us, with convention tournaments, the NCAA event and the Final Four within the brutally chilly Midwest metropolis of Minneapolis. The Final Four is adopted by the tip of the NBA season, the NBA playoffs and, then, the NBA draft. Only after the NBA draft is full can we lastly flip our restricted consideration spans to soccer to observe 5 groups jockey for place for a nationwide championship till basketball begins once more in October.

Of course, basketball is the fairest, most equitable championship recognized to sports activities. The NCAA event isn’t the easiest way to seek out the perfect group, however there isn’t any championship in sports activities that’s as truthful to all comers. With greater than 350 Division I groups, all have the identical alternative to make the sector to legitimately compete for the nationwide championship. Football offers solely a fraction of groups that likelihood to compete for the title. In basketball, all have the identical likelihood.

How is that so? The computerized bid. Every group in Division I has the chance to win its league’s computerized bid and achieve this amongst its friends that it selected to compete with. For the populist crowd that believes the NCAA event is not truthful to the little man, each league will get to resolve for itself how you can give out its computerized bid. A league may give it to the regular-season champion, the event champion, by way of arm wrestling or by way of a raffle. The fact is, leagues do not actually care about having their greatest groups go to the NCAA event. They would quite promote their tournaments to tv for … look ahead to it … the cash.

After the 32 computerized bids are decided, the 36 next-best groups are chosen. Each group will get two bites on the NCAA event apple. Yet yearly there may be the populist, bleeding coronary heart sentiment that goes with the event — let the “little guy” in so we will watch extra Davids take a swing on the Goliaths. This yr, the cries might be much more intense as a result of the bubble is not simply tender — it’s completely mush. The choice committee may need no selection however to pick common groups to fill out the 36 at-large spots and to take action with groups which have misplaced 15 or 16 video games. In different phrases, it may need to select groups which are simply not superb.

Here are the 19 “one-bid” leagues, irrespective of which group wins the automated bid: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Horizon, Ivy, MAC, MAAC, MEAC, Missouri Valley, NEC, Patriot, Southland, SWAC, Summit, Sun Belt and WAC. As every computerized bid is claimed, you possibly can knock out one group from the underside of the highest 68.

Here are the 13 leagues which may ship multiple group to the NCAA subject: American, Atlantic 10, ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Mountain West, Ohio Valley, Pac-12, SoCon, SEC and WCC.

One factor is for sure: There might be dangerous groups within the subject this season. Selection isn’t that essential, given simply how dangerous the bubble is. Seeding is all the pieces this season.

1. Virginia Cavaliers

If you noticed Virginia’s 18-for-25 taking pictures efficiency from 3-point territory towards Syracuse, you noticed a group shoot higher than the equal of 100 p.c from 2-point vary. Virginia is a wonderful offensive group that may shoot it from a number of spots (Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter). This seems to be just like the No. 1 general seed within the event.

2. Gonzaga Bulldogs

Killian Tillie is again and taking part in, and that’s nothing however a superb factor. In spite of its uncharacteristic efficiency within the WCC remaining, Gonzaga is the perfect offensive group within the nation. The Zags had been ok to win all of it with out the large, sweet-shooting Frenchman Tillie. With him, the Zags are considerably higher. No matter what, this can be a No. 1 seed.

3. North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels have matured into an excellent group able to reducing the nets down in Minneapolis. With Coby White taking part in at a excessive degree and the Heels taking part in laborious, North Carolina has received 14 of 15, together with a sweep of Zion Williamson-less Duke, since getting labored by Louisville at house.

4. Duke Blue Devils

Zion is meant to be again for the ACC event. If he’s the outdated Zion, Duke can win all of it. If not, Duke may be crushed by anyone within the prime 20.

5. Kentucky Wildcats

The Wildcats want Reid Travis again wholesome to have the physicality they should attain the Final Four. Kentucky has improved defensively and is one in all simply 4 groups within the prime 15 within the nation in each offensive and defensive effectivity.

6. Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols misplaced three of their final seven video games in SEC play, however that is nonetheless a formidable group. Jordan Bone is the perfect level guard within the SEC and was magnificent towards Kentucky in Knoxville.

7. Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans received their ninth Big Ten title beneath Tom Izzo and did so whereas banged up and injured. With Nick Ward again for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Michigan State has the chops to play ball for 3 weeks within the NCAA event. If Michigan State can win the Big Ten event, the Spartans have an outdoor likelihood at a No. 1 seed.

8. Houston Cougars

The Cougars are legit. Wins over LSU, UCF and Cincinnati twice are good wins however not fairly No. 1 seed territory. However, Houston is Final Four-capable.

9. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines will not be deep however can actually defend. With higher rebounding, Michigan is Elite Eight good.

10. Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders have improved on the offensive finish greater than every other group among the many prime 20 prior to now month. Texas Tech has topped 80 factors in six of its previous 9 video games, partially as a result of nice play of Jarrett Culver and partially as a result of improved play of Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney. Texas Tech hasn’t misplaced in additional than a month.

11. Purdue Boilermakers

By the tip of the Big Ten event, Purdue will doubtless have two gamers who’ve hit greater than 100 3s: Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline. The Boilermakers deal with the ball, rebound it properly and take good pictures. That’s a superb system for profitable video games and sharing a Big Ten title.

12. LSU Tigers

Who is aware of what’s going to occur with this group, given the uncertainty that goes with the suspension of Will Wade. The SEC Champs* are very gifted and superb. Tremont Waters is among the many greatest guards within the nation, and he performs at each ends of the ground.

13. Virginia Tech Hokies

Buzz Williams has completed a exceptional job with Justin Robinson out and maybe not coming again this season. Kerry Blackshear Jr. is among the greatest huge males within the nation, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker is among the greatest offensive gamers within the nation. With Robinson, the Final Four was a legit objective. Without him, the second weekend can be an incredible success.

14. Nevada Wolf Pack

The Mountain West didn’t provide Nevada a lot resistance outdoors of Utah State. Jordan Caroline has had a wonderful season, and Caleb Martin and Jazz Johnson have been the surface assault for the Wolf Pack. No group is older and extra skilled, which might make the distinction in NCAA event play.

15. Auburn Tigers

Bruce Pearl’s group has been up and down, but when Jared Harper, Bryce Brown and Chuma Okeke shoot the ball properly, Auburn is a tricky group to beat. The huge query is whether or not Auburn can flip individuals over within the event. Auburn is No. 1 within the nation in forcing turnovers, with a 25 p.c turnover proportion.

16. Villanova Wildcats

Jay Wright has completed a exceptional job … once more. The Villanova tradition received the Big East title this yr greater than the rest. Only two Big East groups completed above .500 in convention play: Villanova and Marquette. Amazing.

17. Marquette Golden Eagles

The Golden Eagles had been within the driver’s seat with 4 video games remaining however misplaced all 4 heading into the Big East event. But now that the regular-season hay is within the barn, it’s all about getting refreshed and getting Markus Howard, Sam Hauser and Joey Hauser with recent minds and recent legs. Marquette can nonetheless win in March. This is an effective group.

18. Kansas State Wildcats

If Dean Wade is wholesome, the Wildcats can play with anybody. But Wade is uncertain for the Big 12 event due to an ailing foot, and it is value questioning whether or not he’ll be proper for the event. Okay-State is gifted, however Wade’s standing means there is a excessive diploma of volatility right here.

19. Florida State Seminoles

It’s laborious to quietly play a stretch of 12-1 basketball within the ACC, however that is the case for a Florida State group that enters the convention event with a head of steam. Mfiondu Kabengele (13.1 factors, 5.7 rebounds per recreation) is a matchup downside at each ends. FSU allowed league opponents to make simply 41.9 p.c of 2s.

20. Louisville Cardinals

The Cards have misplaced seven of their previous 10 video games however have put collectively a stable résumé. Louisville has not been the identical group for the reason that second-half collapse towards Duke. Still, Christen Cunningham has been among the many greatest level guards within the league in ACC video games, and Jordan Nwora was one of many highest gamers within the league. Louisville has the flexibility to be within the second weekend however must recover from the scars of the Duke loss.

21. Kansas Jayhawks

This isn’t the identical group that put collectively this stellar résumé. Kansas misplaced Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick, and after a 15-2 begin, the Jayhawks completed 8-6 down the stretch.

22. Buffalo Bulls

The Bulls are actually good and may beat virtually anybody. This is a group of robust rivals who know how you can play and know how you can win. Stumbles towards Bowling Green and Northern Illinois on the street are the one blemishes on a fairly sterling résumé.

23. Maryland Terrapins

The nice inside-outside combo of Bruno Fernando, a first-team all-Big Ten performer, and Anthony Cowan can compete towards anybody. If Maryland takes care of the ball, the Terps can win their means into the second weekend.

24. Cincinnati Bearcats

The Bearcats are stable on the guard spots and may rating a bit higher than in years previous. The rebounding and protection are each superb, and Cincinnati is among the many greatest offensive rebounding groups within the nation. Losses to Houston and UCF heading into the American Tournament had been disagreeable however maybe a superb reminder that margins are slim.

25. Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones have misplaced six of eight heading into the Big 12 event. There is a serious distinction in efficiency when Iowa State modifications ends. With the ball, Iowa State can rating at will. On protection, Iowa State’s opponents can rating at will. To win in March, the latter has to vary.

26. UCF Knights

The Knights completed the season robust, with wins at Houston and towards Cincinnati, each ranked groups. Tacko Fall has been extra aggressive and efficient, and Collin Smith has added scoring punch down the stretch. UCF might be tough for groups that haven’t seen Fall earlier than to take care of.

27. VCU Rams

The Rams are attention-grabbing. VCU is actually good on the defensive finish, forcing turnovers, pressuring the ball, pushing up on shooters and making it laborious to run offense. But VCU turns the ball over at a excessive clip and struggles to make perimeter pictures. VCU has received a dozen straight video games, simply not towards stellar competitors.

28. Wofford Terriers

This group might make a splash within the event very similar to Davidson did in 2008. There is not any Stephen Curry, however there’s a Fletcher Magee, the most effective shooters in latest school basketball historical past. Magee is able to hitting eight or 9 3s in a recreation, and if he does, Wofford will beat you. Wofford hasn’t misplaced since earlier than Christmas, and the one losses have been to North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas and Mississippi State. Pretty spectacular.

29. Utah State Aggies

The Aggies have the Mountain West Player of the Year in Sam Merrill, the Defensive Player of the Year in Neemias Queta and the Coach of the Year in Craig Smith. With wins over Nevada, Fresno State and Saint Mary’s, Utah State has a stable résumé. If you may have studied the Aggies, you realize this can be a high quality group that may play with virtually anybody.

30. Wisconsin Badgers

The Badgers’ greatest wins had been over Maryland, Michigan and Iowa (twice). Wisconsin defends very properly and has a star in Ethan Happ, however Happ’s lack of ability to hit free throws and perimeter pictures is an issue in event play. The remainder of his recreation, nonetheless, is magnificent.

31. Iowa Hawkeyes

Nobody has performed extra thrilling basketball in February than Iowa. Every time the Hawkeyes performed, Jordan Bohannon made performs to drag off an unlikely win. Then, Fran McCaffery was suspended after his ridiculous rant at an official after a 90-70 loss at Ohio State, and Iowa did not win once more. Iowa misplaced 5 of six to finish the common season.

32. Syracuse Orange

The Orange struggled to attain in the course of the common season, however Syracuse might be a tricky group to organize for within the postseason in case you are not used to seeing the Orange zone. Frank Howard and Tyus Battle want to guide the group on the offensive finish. Scoring droughts will not be uncommon, so offense must be generated from protection.

33. Mississippi State Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have a pleasant nonconference résumé, with wins over Clemson, Saint Mary’s, Dayton and Cincinnati. The SEC wins had been stable, and the metrics favor Mississippi State on the offensive finish of the ground. But for turnovers, the Bulldogs are among the many extra environment friendly groups within the SEC.

34. Baylor Bears

Baylor overachieved for a lot of the yr however misplaced its remaining three video games in Big 12 play and handled a lingering toe harm to prime scorer Makai Mason (14.6 factors per recreation). Scott Drew’s Bears should get wholesome in the event that they need to preserve taking part in.

35. Arizona State Sun Devils

Wins over Kansas and Utah State are the Sun Devils’ solely wins over sure NCAA event groups. Arizona State will get to the foul line and does a superb job on the glass. Remy Martin and Zylan Cheatham have each been stable for Bobby Hurley, and Luguentz Dort has had a superb freshman season.

36. Clemson Tigers

The Tigers have misplaced some shut ones. Otherwise, they’d simply be on the appropriate aspect of the bubble. But with a 9-9 report within the ACC, Clemson wants a win over NC State within the ACC event to really feel in any means safe.

37. Washington Huskies

It is tough to imagine, but when Washington would not win the Pac-12 event, the Huskies may very well be sweating out Selection Sunday. Washington is 24-7 however would not have a win over a group that’s assured to be within the NCAA subject. That is unusual. Washington is a tournament-caliber group, however the Pac-12 did not do the Huskies any favors.

38. Florida Gators

The Gators are the poster kids for why this bubble is so ridiculously tender. Florida is sweet on the defensive finish however doesn’t rating simply. The Gators have some good gamers however have been very inconsistent. At 17-14, Florida can sneak in, however the Gators had higher play properly within the SEC event.

39. Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers don’t rating effectively however have some superb gamers, most notably Jordan Murphy, the most effective rebounders in Big Ten historical past. Murphy is a revered participant who all the time delivers. A 9-11 report in Big Ten play shouldn’t be within the combine for an at-large bid, however this isn’t a yr filled with certified groups. Average may be ok this season.

40. Seton Hall Pirates

The Pirates are similar to Indiana, however they’ve a greater convention report and didn’t have the identical prolonged swoon. Seton Hall has crushed Kentucky, Maryland, Marquette and Villanova and has only some losses that make you elevate your eyebrows. The metrics do not favor the Hall, however Myles Powell can take over and beat you.

41. NC State Wolfpack

With a wholesome Markell Johnson, NC State is succesful. But if not for a really tender bubble, this group can be sweating out Selection Sunday. With a loss to Clemson within the ACC event, it may very well be over for the Wolfpack.

42. Ole Miss Rebels

This group has actually good guards and the SEC Coach of the Year in Kermit Davis. That mentioned, Ole Miss isn’t trending in the appropriate route heading into the postseason, having misplaced 4 of the previous six, together with losses to Kentucky and Tennessee at house.

43. Temple Owls

Shizz Alston and Quinton Rose are superb guards, and Temple has wins over Houston and UCF on a résumé and not using a ton of losses to offset some good wins. Only losses to Tulsa and Penn stand out as lower than ideally suited.

44. Saint Mary’s Gaels

Randy Bennett has one other terrific taking pictures group and one other slate of video games that make you scratch your head. The win over Gonzaga on Tuesday is the one which stands aside, however like Belmont, you realize Saint Mary’s can play. In truth, the Gaels’ next-best wins is likely to be their shut losses to Mississippi State and LSU.

45. St. John’s Red Storm

A maddening group, particularly on the defensive finish, St. John’s has some actually good wins and a few equally confounding losses. Wins over Villanova, Seton Hall and Georgetown had been adopted by losses to these groups, however two wins over Marquette would possibly get St. John’s into the sector. Jekyll and Hyde had been extra constant.

46. Belmont Bruins

The Bruins can play. Dylan Windler is among the greatest gamers within the nation and might be drafted in June, proper earlier than we flip our consideration again to soccer for a few months. Belmont is 26-5. The greatest win and the one win over a event group is Murray State, after which there are the 2 wins over Lipscomb. Belmont needs to be within the subject, however it would require basketball judgment to justify it.

47. Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers are the strangest group ever beneath reliable consideration for an at-large bid. Indiana has 14 losses heading into the Big Ten event, together with 5 losses to groups that won’t be within the NCAA event subject. Indiana additionally has good wins over Marquette, Louisville, Wisconsin and Michigan State. However, there may be such a factor as too many losses. Indiana has too many losses.

48. Texas Longhorns

Similar to Indiana, Texas has had some good moments this season. The Longhorns have crushed North Carolina, Purdue, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State however have misplaced to Radford, Georgia and TCU. Texas has too many losses.

49. Creighton Bluejays

Creighton has gotten itself into the NCAA event dialogue by profitable 5 in a row coming into the Big East event, however Greg McDermott’s group doubtless nonetheless has some work to do at Madison Square Garden. The Bluejays are right here largely as a result of they’re sixth within the nation in efficient subject objective proportion (56.9).

50. Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma was by no means above .500 in Big 12 play at any level this season, and it ended up with the No. 7 seed within the 10-team convention. But the Sooners do have a latest, decisive win over Kansas to their credit score, and Christian James (14.5 factors, 6.Four rebounds per recreation) is among the nation’s good seniors.

51. Ohio State Buckeyes

OSU is 2-6 in its previous eight video games coming into the Big Ten tourney however is about to get ahead Kaleb Wesson (14.6 factors, 6.7 rebounds per recreation) again from a group suspension and nonetheless has an opportunity. The Buckeyes desperately want a win over Indiana in an Eight vs. 9 recreation on Thursday in Chicago.

52. Oregon Ducks

The Ducks will not be reaching the NCAA event and not using a run to the title within the Pac-12 event, however they’ve received 4 in a row — together with a win at top-seeded Washington final week — and have the flexibility to make that run. Payton Pritchard (12.2 factors, 4.Three assists per recreation) is a pleasant participant.

53. Murray State Racers

When you may have a lottery decide corresponding to Ja Morant, you possibly can beat any individual within the NCAA event. Murray State is greater than Morant, however Morant is the difference-maker. Murray State performed Alabama and Auburn to six- and five-point losses, respectively.

54. Butler Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are only one recreation over .500, however the metrics programs like them, because of wins over Ole Miss and Florida and the absence of a number of actually dangerous losses. With Kamar Baldwin (17.5 factors, rebounds per recreation) main the best way, they’re able to making a run at Madison Square Garden.

55. TCU Horned Frogs

TCU is one other group that enters the convention event with out a lot momentum, as Jamie Dixon’s group is 2-6 in its previous eight. But a decisive win at Texas within the regular-season finale offers the Horned Frogs hope. Desmond Bane (15.2 factors per recreation) has to play properly for TCU.

56. Furman Paladins

Furman goes to be an attention-grabbing case for the choice committee, as its win towards Villanova again on Nov. 17 nonetheless seems to be superb on the résumé. The Paladins additionally misplaced to Wofford and UNC Greensboro twice every. They made 56.9 p.c of their 2-point baskets this yr, which was top-10 within the nation.

57. New Mexico State Aggies

The Aggies have received 16 straight video games since dropping their WAC opener at Cal Baptist on Jan. 3, and there is each motive to count on them to maintain the streak alive within the convention event. Senior Eli Chuha (9.9 factors, 6.Eight rebounds per recreation) is sweet across the rim for a group that likes to sluggish you down.

58. UNC Greensboro Spartans

The Spartans performed properly towards Wofford within the Southern Conference title recreation, however it was to not be. The six losses on their résumé are all to high quality groups (Kentucky, LSU, Furman, Wofford 3 times), however the lack of a very distinctive win might harm them.

59. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Crimson Tide must make some noise within the SEC event in the event that they need to get again to the NCAAs, and so they’ll have to start out by beating Ole Miss. Whatever occurs, the longer term is vivid for an Alabama group led by level guard Kira Lewis (13.9 factors per recreation), the youngest common in Division I basketball at 17 years, 11 months.

60. Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffaloes are one other group that would make a run in a wide-open Pac-12 event — they’re 8-Three of their previous 11 video games coming into the event and have a winnable recreation towards Cal in spherical one. Tyler Bey (13.Four factors, 9.6 rebounds per recreation) is an underrated participant nationally.

61. Lipscomb Bisons

This is an effective group worthy of consideration, however Lipscomb misplaced twice to Belmont. At the very least, Belmont has to get into the sector earlier than Lipscomb. The Bisons’ choice would give a nationwide viewers an opportunity to witness the abilities of guard Garrison Mathews (20.1 factors per recreation), who has been a double-digit scorer in 22 straight video games, together with towards possible event groups Louisville, Clemson and Vermont.

62. Northeastern Huskies

The Huskies are within the NCAA event for the primary time since 2015 after dealing with CAA regular-season champion Hofstra within the convention remaining on Tuesday. Bill Coen’s squad has a superb participant in senior Vasa Pusica (17.6 factors per recreation), the Serbian guard and San Diego switch.

63. Vermont Catamounts

The Catamounts opened the door to historical past after they had been upset by UMBC within the America East remaining final yr, and so they’ll have an opportunity to avenge that defeat towards the Retrievers on Saturday. Anthony Lamb was the league’s participant of the yr after main the convention in scoring (20.Eight factors per recreation) and rebounds ( per recreation).

64. Northern Kentucky Norse

John Brannen’s Norse are within the event for the second time in three seasons after profitable the Horizon League remaining on Tuesday. Senior Drew McDonald (19.Three factors, 9.5 rebounds per recreation), who was on the group when NKU gave Kentucky all it might deal with again within the 2017 event, will get one other alternative within the highlight.

65. Liberty Flames

The Flames acquired the faculty basketball world’s consideration after they hammered UCLA again in December. The Atlantic Sun event champs are going to play slowly (they’re 349th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom), and they will make pictures — 56.9 p.c on 2s and 77.9 p.c on the line are each top-10 nationally.

66. Bradley Braves

Bradley received three shut, low-scoring video games to take the Missouri Valley Conference crown, and tight, half-court protection goes to be its M.O. within the NCAA event as properly. MVC opponents shot simply 31 p.c from 3-point vary towards the Braves, and Bradley allowed simply 39 made 2-point baskets in the complete convention tourney.

67. Iona Gaels

Tim Cluess has Iona within the event for the fourth straight yr and sixth time prior to now eight, and this group of Gaels can actually rating. Iona has 4 double-figure scorers, and level guard Rickey McGill (15.5 factors per recreation) and ahead E.J. Crawford (17.9 factors per recreation) have every reached double-figures of their previous eight video games.

68. Gardner-Webb Bulldogs

The Bulldogs are going dancing for the primary time in class historical past, and a group that beat each Georgia Tech and Wake Forest within the nonconference isn’t going to concern a bigger-conference foe. Tim Craft’s group shoots it properly: 37.7 p.c on 3s and 53.Eight p.c on 2s heading into the NCAA event.


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