What You Need to Know About EVERY March Madness Qualifier

An Analysis of ALL 68 Teams 


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Lucas Parent

South Region

#1 Alabama (29-5)

  • Alabama rolled through the SEC tournament en route to obtaining the number one seed overall in this season’s tournament. Forward Brandon Miller is one of the premier players in college basketball this season, averaging nearly 20 points oer game on 45.1% from the field and 40.1% behind the arc. Seemingly, Miller’s availability appears to not be in question following a link to a murder charge arising earlier in the season. Alabama has been a top ten teams in both points and rebounds this season, and have all the tools needed to make a deep run into March.  

#16 Texas A&M CC (23-10)/ #16 SE Missouri State (19-16)

  • Returning to March Madness are the Islanders of Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Boasting a 23-10 record, A&M runs a high-powered offense that is in the top 50 nationally in points and assists per game. Something to watch: The Islanders have three 13+ PPG scorers, Trevian Tennyson, Isaac Mushila, and Terrion Murdix.
  • Making their second appearance in March Madness: the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks. Phillip Russell has had a dominant offensive season this year, accumulating 18.2 points per game to go with 5.0 assists per game as well. With these statistics, Russell ranks second in both points and assists per game in the OVC. Forward Josh Earley will aid this team in a first-round matchup: the forward is averaging a team-leading five rebounds per game in limited action. 

#8 Maryland (21-12)

  • Maryland has experience with beating tournament teams this season, defeating then-ranked Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, and Northwestern. Make no mistake about the Terrapins: despite having middle-of-the-pack numbers, they possess one of the best guard tandems in the tourney between Jahmir Young and Hakim Hart. Hart, a 6’8’ senior, has all it takes to be all-tournament as a second option. 

#9 West Virginia (19-14)

  • West Virginia was handily defeated by Kansas in the Big 12 tournament, but all may still be well for the Mountaineers. While this team is not excellent at scoring, not above-average in rebounds, and not elite in assisting, they have proven they can light it up on any given night. A home win against 11th-ranked Kansas State is proof of this; West Virginia scored 89 points against a Kansas State squad which allowed only 69 per contest. A player to watch? Kedrian Johnson. Johnson showed off his ability to draw fouls in the victory, getting to the line for 15 free throws (he went 14/15).  

#5 San Diego State (27-6)

  • SDSU ripped off four straight to end the season and defeated Utah State in their respective vonference tournament to earn a spot as a five seed. The Aztecs are unique in the fact they have such a deep rotation, and have a roster full of capable players. The Aztecs run ten deep, and forward Nathan Mensah could be the x-factor that has them playing in the second weekend. 

#12 Charleston (31-3)

  • A world exists where this Charleston squad could have made the tournament without an automatic bid. Luckily, they won’t have to worry about that. Charleston won the CAA with a 31-3 record, losing only two games in conference play. The Cougars made a name for themselves early in the season, securing wins over Richmond, Davidson, and Virginia Tech. The scoring output for this team is something to watch; Charleston’s leading scorer averages only 12.3 points per game, but the Cougars rank 19th in the nation in team points per game. 

#4 Virginia (25-7)

  • Virginia is known for several reasons in March. The team went from laughing stock, the first #1 seed to fall to a #16 seed in history, to champions, just one season later. The turnaround was fueled primarily by players who are no longer with the Cavaliers, but make no mistake, this rebuilt squad is built for March. Virginia’s slow-moving pace will either help or hurt them, depending on opponent. The Cavaliers match a snail-paced offense with a stout defense, and are coming into the tournament with a chip on their shoulders. 

#13 Furman (27-7)

  • The Furman Paladins took the Southern Conference by storm, and are now looking to replicate their success in the “Big Dance.” Furman is a high-scoring team that moves the ball well. The Paladins rank 14th in the NCAA in both points and assists per game. Jalen Slawson was a defensive menace this season: the forward averaged 7.1 rebounds and 3.2 stocks per game this season while ranking top five in the SoCon in rebounds, steals, AND blocks. For a squad that won 27 of 34 games, Furman has major upset potential and could potentially be in a position to upset a faulting power five school.

#6 Creighton (21-12)

  • Creighton has been an established placeholder in both the Big East, and March Madness. For the Blue Jays, Ryan Kalkbrenner and Baylor Scheierman will be big aid. Kalkbrenner made first-team all-Big East, and Scheierman as well as Trey Alexander were listed as honorable mentions.

#11 NC State (23-10)

  • NC State went out sad in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, falling 80-54 to Clemson. If the Wolfpack want to advance, they will need to rely heavily on Terquavion Smith. Smith was named to the All-ACC second team, scoring over 17 points per contest but having stretched of inconsistency. Come gametime, consistency is the most important thing for this team, and will need to hit a stride to continue dancing past the first round. 

#3 Baylor (22-10)

  • Baylor is a great team and has a championship pedigree which is lacked by the majority of the field. Additionally, the Bears rely on some perennial “Name of the Year” candidates to give meaningful minutes: Jonathan Thcamwa Tchatchoua, Flo Thamba, and Josh Ojianwuna. Baylor is a team which feasts off of advanced stats; The team ranked second in Adjusted Offense (KenPom), showing that theya re more than capable of outsourcing anyone the field throws at them. 

#14 UCSB (27-7)

  • UCSB has holes which will need to be filled before matching up with a dominant Baylor squad. The Guanchos’ leading rebounder averages only 6.5 per game, and the team overall ranks out of the top 350 in the nation. Led by Ajay Mitchell, UCSB has won seven straight and cruised past Fullerton in the Big West tournament final. Mitchell will likely need to catch fire early and maintain UCSB’s flame to make it past Baylor, as the guard leads the team in points, assists, and steals. 

#7 Missouri (24-9)

  • Mizzou earned an at-large bid after five straight victories between the end of February and start of March, and ended the season ranked. Kobe Brown emerged as a premier player this season, being named to the All-SEC first team. One thing to watch: the luck factor involved with this team. Per KenPom ratings, Missouri is the ninth luckiest team in the nation. While this may seem bad to some, Missouri’s luck may be all they need to emerge as this year’s Cinderella story. 

#10 Utah State (26-8)

  • Utah State has followed an interesting trajectory this season. The Aggies won nine straight to open the 2022-23 campaign, then leveled off to a 15-4 record. Going 11-4 the rest of the way, the Aggies won seven straight before fallling to SDSU in the conference’s tournament finals. Missouri will have a tough job covering both Steven Ashworth and Taylor Funk, both who have proven incredible capabilities this season. Ashworth starred in a win against UNLV, scoring 27 and racking up seven assists and a trio of steals. Funk had a career game in the conference tournament, scoring 32 points and making six threes against New Mexico. 

#2 Arizona (28-6)

  • Arizona lost Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko to the NBA, yet may have became a better team. The Wildcats narrowly defeated a depleted UCLA squad, 61-59, to earn a spot among the game’s greatest teams. Arizona has rose to a new level this season, ranking top 20 in points, rebounds, and assists. This season, Azuolas Tubelis has been the star of the show, averaging upwards of 19/9 this season while shooting a highly effective 57.5% from the field. Arizona’s offense is among the highest scoring in the country, and the stats back it up. The Wildcats have five double-digit scorers who could drop 20 on any given night. Additionally, the team ranks 10th in terms of adjusted efficiency margin (KenPom). 

#15 Princeton (21-8)

  • Princeton earned the Ivy League’s automatic bid. If nothing else, this team may have the smartest players in the field. Opposing teams will struggle containing Tosan Evbuomwam, a senior from England who has scored over 15 points in 11 of the last 12 outings. While it would take a miracle of sorts for this squad to make any rumbling this March, crazier things have happened. 

East Region

#1 Purdue (29-5)

  • Purdue has arguably the best college player since Zion Williamson in Zach Edey. Edey is a 7’4”, 300 pound behemoth who has been enforcing his will on Big Ten opponents for the past two-plus months. Edey has posted back-to-back 30-point double-doubles, and has been posting incredible statlines as the Boilermakers continue to add to the win column. Edey’s 22.3 points are sixth in the nation; His 12.8 rebounds rank third. Opponents be warned, Purdue is anything but a one-man team. Freshman guards Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer have shouldered the offense load this season, as has Mason Gillis. With a roster chalk-full of pure basketballers, coach Matt Painter looks to erase allegations of fraudulent basketball play following a brutal defeat at the hands of Doug Edert and St. Peters last season. 

#16 Fairleigh Dickinson (19-15)/ #16 Texas Southern (14-20)

  • FDU fell to Merrimack in the NEC championship, but due to NCAA rules, they were able to secure the automatic bid to March Madness. Demetre Roberts led the Knights in points and assists per game, and the Knights had three players who recorded a takeaway per game this season. 
  • Texas Southern has been touted as the worst team in the tournament this season, and the 14-20 record to the right of their name does nothing but amplify this effect. The Tigers dropped three straight prior to the SWAC tournament, dropping them to eighth in the standings. The 11-20 team looked out of it, before knocking off Alcorn State, Alabama A&M, and Grambling State to clinch a berth in March Madness. Davon Barnes, PJ Henry, and John Walker III headline a squad which will be fighting for a trip to the round of 64. 

#8 Memphis (26-8)

  • When Penny Hardaway arrived at Memphis, the team was lost. Between 2006 and 2014, Memphis appeared in March Madness seven times in eight years, headlined by head coach John Calipari and star freshman Tyreke Evans. Hardaway took the helm for a team which had been clear of any runs in March in half a decade, and now has the Tigers back in the tournament for the second straight season. Memphis defeated the depleted, sending Houston home, en route to an AAC championship. The squad Hardaway has been working with could be described as “sneaky good,” and features the star pairing of Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams. Davis scored 31 and Williams accumulated a double-double as the Tigers defeated the top team in the nation just hours before the Selection Sunday show. 

#9 FAU (31-3)

  • Conference USA’s finest look now to pull off a string of upsets. FAU has only lost twice since the start od December, and have been victors in seven straight. While this team was able to secure an automatic bid via a victory in the conference tournament, a 25th-ranked season nationally suggests they would have been in- easily- regardless. Looking at the statistics flaunt what college basketball fans have come to accept this season in regard to this squad: these players make up a statistical anomaly. The Owls rank top-40 in points per game this season, yet possess no one player who scores over 14 a game. Johnell Davis headlines this sleeper squad who may very well be playing for a spot in the Elite Eight come next weekend. 

#5 Duke (26-8)

  • To say Duke is one of the greatest teams in college basketball history would be an understatement. Following Coach K’s departure, Duke returns to the “Big Dance” under former Blue Devil Jon Scheyer. Duke dealth with avaliablity issues this season, and leveled off from a 10-2 start to 17-8, only to win nine straight to end this campaign.  Kyle Flipowski, all you could ask for in a college center, looks to bring Duke back to glory after a successful season in which he averaged 15.4 points per contest as a freshman. Oral Roberts will prove to be a tough mathcup, mainly due to the height desribed in the next paragraph. May fans not forget Duke’s victory over 7’6” Tacko Fall and UCF several years ago. Good times fade, good basketball does not. 

#12 Oral Roberts (30-4)

  • Oral Roberts has a case to be made for the best mid-major in the country this season. Boasting a 30-4 record, Oral Roberts was victorious in all 18 conference games this season. Oral Roberts has upset potential unlike any other mid-major this season, by the strength of their dynamic duo: Max Abmas and Connor Vanover. Abmas, a guard, averaged a Summit League high 22.2 points per contest this season on 44/38/92 splits. Vanover, a 7’5’’ forward, nearly doubles the Summit League’s second placeholder in blocks per game, a 3.3 to 1.7 comparison. Oral Roberts has a chip on their shoulder following an incredible upset over Ohio State in 2021.

#4 Tennessee (23-10)

  • Tennessee, despite a not-overly-suggestive-of-a-title-run record, ranks fifth in adjusted efficiency margin this season (KenPom, of 363). Tennessee runs a “just enough” offense, which ranks 49th in AdjO (KenPom). This Tennessee team will make teams question everything through an incredible defense. Tennessee allows only 58 points per game, and SEC teams have failed to reach that mark eight times this season against the Volunteers. Tennessee has four players who average over a steal per game. Zakai Zeigler has played like an all-defensive player this season, averaging two steals per game in 30 appearances. 

#13 Louisiana (26-7)

  • If nothing else, Louisiana has the best team name in the field of 68: Ragin’ Cajuns. Speaking of great names, opponents should look out for Themus Fulks. Fulks has also proven his scoring prowess as of late: he scored 23 points on 9/13 shooting in the latest Ragin Cajun victory. Louisiana’s blooming point guard leads the Sun Belt in assists per game and is a double-double threat nightly. Additionally, Louisiana has proven to be a highly efficient offense this season, connecting on 48.4% of shots this season.

#6 Kentucky (21-11)

  • Kentucky takes the floor against Providence on Friday night with hopes of starting a run towards the program’s first title since 2012. For context, Anthony Davis played for that championship team. 11 years later, the Wildcats have another dominant big man ready for a shot at glory: Oscar Tshiebwe. Tshibiewe averages a nation-best 13.1 rebounds per contest, and had posted a double-double in four straight. John Calipari has done a superb job of surrounding Tshibiewe with offense this season; Guards Antonio Reeves and  Cason Wallace are both double-digit sparkplugs who are capable of scoring 25 in a must-win game. Although the Wildcats fell to Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament, Kentucky now looks forward to Providence and beyond. 

#11 Providence (21-11)

  • It was a tale of two seasons for Providence in 2023. The Friars started off with a 17-5 record, and held stock in the national rankings for several weeks. All seemed well in Friartown after a win over then-fourth Uconn, but a  4-6 record through the last ten games of the season now has the Friars wondering what comes next. Ed Cooley, last season’s Big East and National Coach of the Year, will lead the Friars into battle ready to contest a bruising Kentucky battalion. Former Wildcat Bryce Hopkins looks to get revenge, facing off against his old team for a spot in the round of 32 and the resumption of a championship trot. 

#3 Kansas St. (23-9)

  • The Big 12 has an incredible amount of stock in this year’s tournament. Kansas State punched a ticket following a 23-9 season and 11-7 record in-conference. The Wildcats run a dynamic offense centered around Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. Johnson, a capable scorer from three levels, set a new career high in points this season and connected on 44 of 105 shots from three-point land for a 41.9% mark on the year. Markquis Nowell, an exceptional passer, adds not just the third most assists per game in the COUNTRY, but 16.8 points and 2.4 steals per contest as well. Kansas State brings loaded guard play and All-American talent to the tournament as they look to advance past opening weekend.

#14 Montana St. (25-9)

  • Montana State failed to win the Big Sky regular season title, but battled through Northern Arizona in the conference tournament finals to secure an automatic bid. Speaking of battles, RaeQuan Battle is a player to watch for this squad. Battle is a 17-PPG scorer who shoots the ball at incredibly accurate 47/35/84 splits. Battle and his team have been hot lately: winning 13 of 14. Battle has been responsible for over 19 points per contest over this stretch. 

#7 Michigan St. (19-12)

  • To say that Michigan State is a staple in March Madness would be an understatement. The Spartans have only missed the Big Dance once since 1998, a 2020 season in which there was no tournament to miss. Last champions in 2000, Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser hope to bring Michigan State back to the glory days which are now 23 years ago. In order for Michigan State to make a run, they will rely on role players such as Jordan Akins, Malik Hall, and Mady Sissoko. Can Tom Izzo and his Spartans return back to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in four years? Time will tell. 

#10 USC (22-10)

  • USC’s season will live and die by the play of guard trio Boogie Ellis, Drew Peterson, and Reese Dixon-Waters. All three are guards who can score when needed, and lead a team to victory in the waning seconds of a meaningful game. Boogie Ellis has been a model of consistency as of late, scoring 15+ in seven straight, eclipsing 20+ five times, and passing 30+ twice. Ellis had a breakout game on February 18th in a win against Stanford, scoring 33 points (9-16 FG, 6-10 3pt, 9-9 FT). While Michigan State is a grueling opponent to face in the first round, the matchup between these two heavyweights is sure to prove to be a great game with no clear victor. 

#2 Marquette (28-6)

  • Shaka Smart has also been a good coach, but he gets his flowers this season. The Marquette Golden Eagles improved from 19-13 to 28-6, a win percentage that was the highest in program history since the 1977-78 season. Marquette rose up the ranks later in the season, winning nine straight and knocking off then-ranked opponents Xavier, Creighton, UConn, and Xavier again (all of which made the tournament). Rhode Island product Tyler Kolek has been Marquette’s star this season, putting together an All-American caliber season in which he averaged a team-high 7.7 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. Additionally, Kolek has proven to be an efficient scorer, connecting on 48.3% of field goals and 39.4% on three-point jumpers. Marquette has lofty expectations as a two seed and will face a tough midmajor in Vermont in the first round. 

#15 Vermont (23-10)

  • Vermont is the American East (at this point). The Catamounts have represented their conference four times in six seasons and now find themselves matched against an up-and-coming Marquette squad. Vermont was a lowly 8-10 this season before winning 15 straight games and running away with the conference title. Vermont’s full power was shown against UMass Lowell; three Catamounts scored 14+ and Vermont won by double digits. One thing to watch is Vermont’s rebounding woes this season; the team averages only 31.4 per game. 

Midwest Region

#1 Houston (31-3)

  • Houston is considered by many to be the favorite to win the tournament this year despite falling from the top overall seed on Selection Sunday. Marcus Sasser went down with an injury and was held out of the AAC conference final, a game that Houston lost. Sasser’s injury may not be a concern in the first round, but an extended absence for Sasser, who has averaged 17.1 points and has established himself as an exemplary defender this season, could be troublesome for the Cougars. Sasser was also elected to the All-American team this season. With a cloud of mystery surrounding Sasser’s status in the first weekend of games, Houston will be forced to rely heavily on guard Jamal Shead and tantalizing defense. Shead is a double-digit scorer and averages a team-high five assists. This season, Houston ranks fourth in adjusted defense (KenPom) and poses a threat to make a run to yet another Final Four. 

#16 Northern Kentucky (22-12)

  • Northern Kentucky will rely heavily on guard Sam Vinson to carry the defensive load. The 6’5 sophomore dynamo not only puts up solid offensive numbers, but averages over two steals per game this season. One issue that will likely lead to the end of a Cinderella run for this squad is rebounding, as the Norse record only 32.4 rebounds per game, good for… 364th in the nation.

#8 Iowa (19-13)

  • Iowa finished seventh in the Big Ten, but make no mistake, this is a solid squad. Kris Murray, brother of lottery pick Keegan Murray, has averaged 20 and eight a game to will the Hawkeyes to the tournament. To note, Murray has only scored lower than ten points once since mid-December, establishing himself as a model of consistency. Iowa has four double-digit scorers around Murray: Filip Rebraca, Tony Perkins, Patrick McCaffrey, and Payton Sandfort

#9 Auburn (20-12)

  • Auburn followed a similar path in regard to their opponent; a seventh-place finish in their respective conference and a berth in the eight-nine first-round matchup. Unlike Iowa, Auburn does not possess a true alpha dog. Johni Broome, a six-ten sophomore forward, led the Tigers in scoring this season, but Wendell Green Jr., Jaylin Williams, and Allen Flanigan have also emerged as bucket-getters this season. While Auburn does not jump off the page in any KenPom statistics, being 48th in adjusted offense and 29th in adjusted defense, the eight-deep Tigers will be a tough out in the first weekend of March Madness.  

#5 Miami (FL) (25-7)

  • Miami’s high-powered offense has gotten the Hurricanes to this point. The team ranks 31st in points per game and is 12th in KenPom’s adjusted offense statistic. Guard tandem Isaiah Wong and Jordan Miller are among the best in the nation, both eclipsing the 15+ PPG mark on over 45% from the field. While Miami is the lowest KenPom-rated five seed, the team will look to overshadow a lacking defense. This team’s x-factor? Norchad Ormier. The do-it-all big man led the team with almost ten rebounds per game this season and is the greatest defensive presence the Canes can offer. 

#12 Drake (27-7)

  • I could have inserted a joke here referencing Canadian hip-hop superstar Drake, but honestly, nevermind. While Aubrey Graham has made a name for himself by making music, the Drake Bulldogs have made a name for themselves after winning the MVC conference tournament. Roman Penn is a player to watch for Drake; His 5.4 assists per game were the most in the MVC this season and 23rd overall in the country. 

#4 Indiana (22-11)

  • Indiana’s title hopes will hinge heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis and his play during the first rounds of the dance. TJD leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks per game and has put together a dynamic season which has placed him in contention with Purdue’s Zach Edey for Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana’s second option, Jalen Hood-Schifino, has proven to be a “microwave”: a guy who is on a heater when he’s hot. This was best seen in a victory against Purdue earlier this season, when he scored 35 points on only two three-point attempts. While betting on a stretch big oriented team may be a fatal mistake, Indiana is a tough squad and may very well be playing for a spot in the Final Four next weekend. 

#13 Kent St. (28-6)

  • Kent State earned an automatic bid to this year’s tournament, winning through the MAC playoffs and defeating Toldeo handily in the final game. Kent State employs a three-headed dragon, Sincere Carry, Malique Jacobs, and Miryne Thomas. While Kent State can score, they often do it in innefficient fashion. Carry, the team’s leading scorer, shoots only 41.3% from the field; Jacobs, 39.3%. This team is middle-of-the-pack in terms of rebounding, meaning an off-shooting night may put the nail in the coffin for this successful midmajor. 

#6 Iowa St. (19-13)

  • Iowa State finished the year in inteesting fashion. A 5-9 end to the year… but the five wins came against ranked opponents: Kansas State (5th), Kansas (8th), TCU (22nd), Baylor (7th), and Baylor (10th), again. Big wins propelled the Cyclones to a six seed, and showed that the team is capable of defeating strong opponents. Iowa State only has two 10+ PPG scorers, both of whom shoot inefficiently from the field. Tamin Lipsey is the Cyclone to watch: the guard was a big reason the Cyclones ranked eighth in adjusted defense (KenPom). 

#11 Mississippi St. (21-12)/ #11 Pitt (22-11)

  • Mississippi State, the ninth place SEC finisher, will be playing Tuesday for tournament life against Pitt. State opened up with 11 straight wins, only to finish the season with a 10-12 stretch. Tolu Smith established himself as the top (Bull)dog this season, averaging nearly 16 points and nine rebounds per contest.
  • Pitt, the ACC’s bronze medalist in the regular season, enters a matchup with Mississippi State for a spot in the field of 68. Jamarius Burton, the Pirates, and a dream. The Pirates are a well-rounded group of basketballers who are headlined by their guards and high-octane offense. This season, Pitt ranked 24th in adjusted offense and scored 76.1 points per game. 

#3 Xavier (25-9)

  • Souley Boum, Souley Boum, Souley Boum. The senior guard is the star of the show at Xavier, playing his way into an All-Big East selection. Boum opted to switch from UTEP to Xavier, accepting a reduced role that he has played into incredibly. Boum averages 16.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, while shooting a lethal 42.5% from beyond the arc. Boum showed his potential for a tournament run against Providence, scoring 33 points on an efficient 11-19 shooting. “Who is Souley Boum?,” I asked as the Muskateers decimated my hometown Friars. 

#14 Kennesaw State (26-8)

  • Kennesaw State earned an automatic bid to the tournament after defeating Liberty in the final game of the Atlantic Sun tournament. The Owls possess a balanced scoring attack, with Chris Youngblood, Terrell Burden, and Demond Robinson, all averaging double-digit scoring per game. Chris Youngblood could be a player to watch in the tournament, as his 41.1% mark from behind the three-point line on nearly 200 attempts could prove to be vital in a potential upset. 

#7 Texas A&M (25-9)

  • The Aggies are dangerous. “Yeah I said it.” Many were surprised when A&M was only placed as a seven seed, after going 10-2 in conference play to finish the season and knocking off Tennessee and Alabama (both ranked opponents). Prior to a loss to Alabama in the conference tournament, the Aggies were a spotless 4-0 against ranked opponents. Penn State and Texas should scout Wade Taylor IV heavily. Taylor averages the most points, assists, and steals of any Aggie and has been on a tear as of late. In the past eight games, Taylor has been playing must-see basketball, averaging 20.4 points and nearly two steals a contest.

#10 Penn St. (22-13)

  • Penn State has proven time and time again that they can prevail in tight games. Penn State’s past eight games have been decided by five points or less, and the Nittany Lions have found themselves winners 75% of the time. Penn State is not overly good at much, are outside the top 100 in both points and assists, and find themselves in an even deeper predicament with even lower rebound numbers. Luckily for Penn State, Jalen Pickett exists. Pickett, a 6’4” senior guard, averages 17/7/7 and is fifth in the nation in assists, while being this team’s leader in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, all while shooting 51.6% from the field and 38.3% from behind the arc. If anyone can carry Penn State to victory, look no further than Jalen Pickett. 

#2 Texas (26-8)

  • Texas is going dancing as a two seed after defeating Kansas handily in the Big 12 Conference Tournament Final. The Longhorns, who usually rely on big men to get the job done (LaMarcus Aldridge, Myles Turner, Mo Bamba), now look to a guard pairing. Marcus Carr has averaged nearly 16 points per game this season, one of four Longhorns in double digits. Very important: Texas’ stock in the KenPom rankings. Texas sits at sixth overl in net efficiency, and is top 20 in both offense and defense. Uconn, Houston, and Alabama are the only other teams that match that same criteria. Teams opposing this dangerous squad should also look out for sneaky good role player Dylan Disu: the forward gets meaningful minutes and shoots nearly 60% from the field.

#15 Colgate (26-8)

  • To say that Colgate dominated the Patriot League this season would be an understatement. After a 9-7 start, Colgate ripped off 17 wins in 18 games, including nine straight to end the season. A statistic of note: Colgate is exceptional at moving the ball. With 18.6 assists per game this season, the Raiders are ranked fifth in the nation in that category. The assist totals are an ode to the extremely balanced scoring coming from this Colgate squad; Five Raiders score double digits per game. Opposing teams should look out for Tucker Richardson come dancing time, as he scored a triple-double in his last game. 

West Region

#1 Kansas (27-7)

  • More than ever, it is safe to say Kansas deserved the one seed. Jalen Wilson earned an All-American nod after averaging 20 and eight in 34 appearances. His sidekick, Gradey Dick, is a pure shooter with splits of 44/40/85. Together, the duo powers one of the nation’s best teams. Additionally, this band of Jayhawks is filled to the brim with viable role players. Dajuan Harris Jr. is ninth in the nation in assists per game; He is part of the reason why the top 30 in both assists per game and adjusted offensive efficiency (KenPom). Kevin McCullar Jr., Bobby Pettiford Jr., and Joseph Yefusu will all get meanngul minutes as Kansas looks to repeat as champions. Something to watch: the avilability of head coach Bill Self. Self was hospitalized following an illness not too long ago, and now looks to return to the hardwood and lead his Kansas team to yet another championship. 

#16 Howard (22-12)

  • Good news: the Howard Bison are going dancing for the first time since 1992. Bad news: they will face Kansas in the first round. Howard, making appearance number three in program history, won five straight to end the season. The Bison are headlined by Elijah Hawkins, who averaged 13 points and 5.9 assists per outing in 2022-23. 

#8 Arkansas (20-13)

  • Like several teams on this list, it was a tale of two seasons for Arkansas. The Razorbacks started the season on a heater, winning 11 of 12 games. The Razorbacks would eventually level off, going only 9-12 over the rest of the season yet still clinching an at-large berth in March Madness. Arkansas has a quartet of great guards in Ricky Council IV, Nick Smith Jr, Anthony Black, and Davonte Davis. Nick Smith Jr. will likely be the deciding factor in early action for this Razorback squad: the former high school phenom is averaging 14 a game this season. Arkansas ranks higher in the KenPom than their eight seed suggests, being placed at 51st in offense, 16th in defense, and 20th overall. 

#9 Illinois (20-12)

  • Illinois, led by stellar guard play over the oast few seasons, now looks to contend with the tandem of Terrance Shannon Jr. and Matthew Mayer. Opposing teams should look to focus defensive presence on Shannon: the guard is ever-improving. Shannon is responsible for 9 20-point games this season, and was fully on display against then-ranked Northwestern. Shannon’s full arsenal was shown, as he scored 26 points on a highly efficient 8-10 from the field. 

#5 St. Mary’s (26-7)

  • The Gaels have been a footnote to Gonzaga’s reign of dominance for so long. No more! This Saint Mary’s squad is ready for action. Allowing only 60.1 points per game, Saint Mary’s has a suffocating defense which will make errant shot-chuckers pay the price. The team ranked in the top 40 in both adjusted offense and adjusted defense, and is ninth in the nation in adjusted defense. All this talk about defense can take away from the Gel’s four-headed scoring militia. Logan Johnson, Aidan Mahaney, Alex Ducas, and Mitchell Saxen are all averaging over 11.5 points per contest, while all shooting over 43% from the field. The Gaels blend efficiency with staggering defending and may very well be playing next weekend. 

#12 VCU (27-7)

  • Like many teams listed, VCU caught fire at the end of the year, winning nine straight and coasting to an Atlantic Ten title. What VCU lacks in offense is made up by a nationally elite defense. Combine that with Saint Mary’s philosphy, and a slugfest is sure to ensue in the first round. One thing to note: VCU has lacked experience with playing against great teams this season. The team has only appeared in one game against a Quad One opponent, and lost. 

#4 Uconn (25-8)

  • Uconn started the season 14-0 and has had multiple win streaks of 6+ games. When the weather gets cold, the Huskies get hot. Expect this trend to continue in March. Connecticut is nationally elite by KenPom standards: a top 20 school in both adjusted offense and defense, as well as the fourth best overall in efficiency. UConn puts up points, and has an above average defense. Adama Sanogo is a large part of the reason. The third-year forward averages team highs in points and rebounds and shoots 59.4% from the field… while only appearing in 26.6 minutes per game. 

#13 Iona (27-7)

  • I would hate to mention Drake again, but c’mon, how many head coaches have played in March Madness over 20 times AND gotten a shoutout from Drizzy. Pitino, who has led a plethora of teams to success in March, now looks to bring the Gaels to the second round and beyond. Despite being a midmajor, Iona ranks within the top 80 nationally in both adjusted offense and defense (KenPom). While this team has several scorers, and even more defenders, Nelly Junior Joseph is the one to watch. In 34 games this season, Joseph averages 15 and nine on high efficiency and could cause problems for UConn. 

#6 TCU (21-12)

  • TCU had a successful season, going 12-3 in non-conference play and 9-9 in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs did slip towards the end of the season, however, losing four straight in a stretch which involed three ranked teams, and seven times in the last eleven games. While TCU did go 8-11 against quad one teams this season, they were a perfect 5-0 against quad two teams. TCU’s full potential was on display in their second-to-last game, a win over Kansas State, who is a three seed in this year’s tournament. The Wildcats score 75.5 points per game, and were held to just 67. Mike Miles Jr and Chuck O’Bannon scored 22 a piece, and the team recorded more assists and takeaways then K-State. TCU’s bench scored more points, and the Horned Frogs were able to boost their March Madness chances significantly. For TCU fans, a shellacking at the hands of Georgia in the College Football Playoff is in hindsight. This team is ready to win.  

#11 Arizona St. (22-12)/ #11 Nevada (22-10)

  • Arizona State will be fighting for tournament berth against Nevada. This season, the Sun Devils rank 66th in the NET, which is fitting as they will be fighting to advance to the round of 68. This Sun Devils squad has several bonafide scorers, namely Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Marcus Bagley. DJ Horne, Frankie Collins, and Devan Cambridge are also capable of getting a bucket if necessary. 
  • Nevada is also vying for a spot in the round of 64. Nevada has proven to have a winning culture, defeating several tournament teams this season. The Wolfpack are led by Jarod Lucas, a 17 PPG scorer who shoots an efficient 37.9% from three. This season, Nevada ranks 37th in the NET, 29 spots ahead of Arizona State. Additonally, KenPom ranks Nevada at 43rd, 61st in offensive efficiency, and 42nd in defensive efficiency. 

#3 Gonzaga (28-5, WCC)

  • With Mark Few at the helm, it seems as if Gonzaga will be a national superpower until his departure. In just the past four seasons, Gonzaga has accumulated 118 wins (to only 12 losses). While Gonzaga has often to have been thought to play in a “cupcake” league, Gonzaga’s wins speak for themselves. Gonzaga’s full potential was best seen in a game against then-fourth-ranked Alabama earlier this season. The then-15th-ranked Bulldogs led at the half, and ended the game in triple digits in a 100-90 victory. All of Gonzaga’s scorers scored in double digits, and the program’s all-time leading scorer, Drew Timme, scored 29. Gonzaga’s offense has been on another level this season. The 4.5 points per game that separate Gonzaga and the fifth-highest scoring team in the country are wider than the gap between numbers five and 35.

#14 Grand Canyon (24-11)

  • Grand Canyon University is more than just a commercial on ESPN. The Lopes finished just fourth in the WAC, yet battled through the conference tournament to take a spot in March Madness. GCU will face perhaps their toughest opponent on the year, going toe to toe with a Gonzaga squad who has an offense which is clear of the Lopes’. If nothing else, GCU will be getting makeable shots in this game, and have guys that knock them down. An upset bid will not be possible if Rayshon Harrison, Gabe McGlothan, and Chance McMillan are not hitting shots all night. 

#7 Northwestern (21-11)

  • Northwestern allows only 62.5 points per game this season, and has not allowed an opponent to surpass 75 in over six weeks. Such defensive effort places the unit at 13th on KenPom’s ranking of adjusted defensive efficiency. Northwestern has also shown an ability to beat good teams this season, compiling a 7-6 record against Quad One teams. Northwestern will need to show the abolity to consistently knock down shots if they want to escape the grasp of Boise State; the shooting percentages of the top five Northwestern scorers go as follows: 40.2%, 36.7%, 33.8%, 37.5%, and 42.4%. 

#10 Boise State (24-9)

  • Boise State looks to give the MWC a better rep alongside SDSU, Utah State, and (maye) Nevada. This is another team with incredible defense, ranked 14th in the KenPom rankings.In order to win, the Broncos will need to limit the lowly shooting of Northwestern even further. The Broncos have a bonafide baller in Tyson Degenhart, who leads the team in scoring at a 53.7% clip. Boise State is an attractive pick in this 7v10 matchup and is oozing upset potential. 

#2 UCLA (29-5)

  • The injury bug hit UCLA at the worst possible time. Jaylen Clark suffered a season-ending injury just weeks ago. Adem Bona suffered an injury within the past week. As the tournament looms, UCLA is missing large scoring outputs and defenders. While UCLA did earn a two seed, the lack of rotation players has become an overbearing concern of fans. Expect Jaime Jaquez Jr and Tyger Campbell to step up big and try to prevail against a tough UNC Asheville squad in the first round. Amari Bailey, for some reason known more for his high school mixtape and mother’s relatiomship with Drake than his play, should see increased usage. 

#15 UNC Asheville (27-7, Big South)

  • UNC Asheville is entering the tournament as one of the winningest schools in the game, having been victors in nine straight and 18 of 19. Forward Drew Pember has been a big reason the Bulldogs have been so successful this season, averaging a team-leading 21.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per contest.