March Madness preview

March Madness preview

The 2020-2021 college basketball was defined by two teams, Gonzaga and Baylor. Gonzaga held the top spot of the AP Poll from start to finish, until the final night of the season. Baylor was ranked #2 for almost the entire season. As expected, on the final night of the season, it was Gonzaga and Baylor duking it out for the title. But this season is much more balanced. Anyone could look at the rankings and pick out 8-10 teams who all have a reasonable shot at winning the national championship. Obviously, some are better than others, but it is truly wide open. Here are my top 6 National title contenders, two final four sleepers, and my predictions for the top 4 seeds in the NCAA tournament.


The Zags have been absolutely rolling through the WCC (West Coast Conference), a conference that is better than you might think. Gonzaga is winning their conference games by an average of 30 points, seven of their eight conference games have been won by 30+ points. Gonzaga ranks 1st in the NET (The NCAA selection committee’s predictive ranking metric) and 1st at Kenpom (a computer ranking system). Gonzaga is the only team in the country ranked in the top ten of both offensive and defensive efficiency according to Kenpom, sitting at second in offensive efficiency and 10th in defensive efficiency. Gonzaga also has the most impressive statistical resume of any team. 

  • 1st in scoring offense at 90.9 ppg
  • 1st in Field Goal Percentage
  • 2nd in assists per game
  • 2nd in rebounds game 
  • 3rd in Field Goal Percentage Defense

Not to mention all 5 of their starters are averaging double digits in scoring. Gonzaga has a solid body of work as well. They are 5-2 in Quad 1 games and 14-0 in the other 3 quadrants. Their best wins come against #9 Texas Tech, #12 UCLA, #20 Texas, all by double digits. Gonzaga has a great balance of talent with top 3 pick Chet Holgrem, Wooden Award favorite Drew Timme, and great role players who aren’t really role players considering their outputs.


Big Blue Nation is heating up. Since losing to LSU on January 4th, Kentucky has gone 9-1, with their only loss coming on the road against Auburn, a game in which they held a 9 point lead before losing Ty-Ty Washington for the rest of the game, and losing Sahvir Wheeler for more than 10 crucial minutes. Kentucky ranks 5th in the NET and 2nd at Kenpom. They rank 4th in offensive efficiency and 13 in defensive efficiency. What really makes Kentucky dangerous is their balance. Kentucky can beat anybody in the country, with any style of play. They can score in transition or in the half court, they move the ball, they can shoot threes, they guard on defense  they rebound, well one guy rebounds. Which brings us to Oscar Tshiebwe, the best player in college basketball. Tshiebwe is averaging 15 points per game and 15 rebounds per game. He has 18 double doubles in 24 games, he is 2nd in the country in defensive rebounds per game, 1st in the country in offensive rebounds per game, and 12th in field goal percentage. With Tshiebwe grabbing boards, Kentucky gets more opportunities for 3’s off Offensive rebounds which are the highest percentage threes. With no need for 3-4-5 guys to crash the boards, they can get back on defense faster, halting transition for their opponent. With Tshiebwe being such a presence inside, Kentucky has better spacing. There are more lanes for Sahvir Wheeler and TyTy Washington to slash inside and get to the rim or kick it out to sharp shooter Kellen Grady. 


For the first time in school history, the Auburn Tigers stood at the summit of the AP Pool, #1 in the country. The Auburn Tigers have the best resume of any team in the country. Despite being ranked #9 in the NET and #8 in Kenpom, which is just disrespectful, the Tigers have 7 quad 1 wins and 5 quad wins, an overall record of 12-2 in the first two quadrants, the best record of any team in the country. They are 22-2 overall, with both of their losses coming in overtime. They lost a 3OT thriller to Connecticut in November 115-109, then lost this past Tuesday to a red hot Arkansas team in OT on the road in an extremely hostile environment. Auburn has the best rim protector in the nation in Walker Kessler who ranks 2nd in the country in blocks per game with 4.33. K.D Johnson and Wendell Green Jr are pocket dynamite for the tigers, playing with large amounts of emotion, tenacity, and hustle. However, the key for Auburn will be future top 3 pick Jabari Smith. Smith is their leading scorer, averaging 15.5ppg and 6.8rpg. Smith is 6’10, 220 lbs with a 7’1 wingspan. What really makes him special though, is his elite shot making ability. He’s 6’10, but shoots 40% from three and 43% from the field, mostly jumpshots. He has to be more aggressive if Auburn is to make a deep run.


Recently, Kansas went to Iowa State and got the win 70-62, a gritty performance. Then Saturday, they had a top ten matchup with the Baylor Bears back at home. Under Bill Self, the Jayhawks have never lost back to back home games, and they weren’t about to start. Kansas rolled Baylor 83-59, showing no mercy. Kansas ranks 8th in the NET and 7th at Kenpom, dropping a couple spots after their close loss on the road against a tough Texas team. The Jayhawks have a top 5 resume, they are 7-3 in Quad 1 and 5-1 in Quad 2, 12-3 in the first two Quadrants overall, one loss off Auburn, the team with the best resume. Kansas ranks 3rd in offensive efficiency, but 37th in defensive efficiency. Kansas is similar to Purdue, they score a ton, but don’t defend. But their defense is saveable, unlike Purdue. What really makes Kansas dangerous though, is that on any given night, a different person on their team can step and deliver the top performance. They can count on Ochai Agbaji to score in bunches, he averages 20.3ppg. But if they need more, Christian Braun, Jalen Wilson, David McCormack , and Remy Martin can all drop 12+ points. If the Jayhawks can continue to tighten up on defense and if Ochai Agbaji continues to play like a top 5 player, they can make a deep run. 


Purdue is the best offensive team in the country, but they don’t play defense. Purdue ranks 1st in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom, but 105th in defensive efficiency. Purdue ranks 4th in scoring offense, scoring 84.5 ppg but 172nd in scoring defense, giving up 68.7 ppg. No team has ever won the National Championship when ranking outside the top 20 in either offensive efficiency or defensive efficiency. Look at Iowa last year, they ranked 3rd in offensive efficiency but 75th in defensive efficiency, but got bounced in the second round when their offense stalled and they had no defense to fall back on. But, Purdue has the stars, and has the offense to win the national championship. Iowa’s offense was really good, but it wasn’t close to Purdues. Purdue has future top 5 pick Jaden Ivery leading the way averaging 17.7 ppg. Then they turn to the twin towers inside, Zach Edey who stands at 7’4 295lbs, and Trevion Williams who stands at 6’10 255 lbs. As a team, they shoot 50% from the field, and 40% from 3. 


Who would’ve thought Tommy Lloyd and the Arizona wildcats would be a top 5 in the first season of the new regime, but that’s just the case. The Wildcats are 20-2 overall and have a 2 game lead over UCLA in the Pac 12. Arizona ranks second in the NET and 2nd at Kenpom. They rank 6th in defensive efficiency and 12th in offensive efficiency. They are 5-2 in Quad 1 with big wins over UCLA, USC, and on the road against Illinois. I said earlier that Gonzaga has the most impressive statistical resume, which is true, but Arizona is a close second. 

            -1st assists per game

            -1st in Rebounds per game

            -2nd Defensive Rebounds per game

            -2nd in Field Goal Percentage

            -3rd in Scoring Offense

            -3rd in Blocked shots per game

The Wildcats play elite defense, anchored by their size. Their 9 rotation players are all over 6’3, and 7 of the 9 are over 6’6. Their scoring margin is 20 ppg, holding their opponents to 65.3 ppg while scoring 85.1 ppg. The Wildcats leading scorer, Benedict Mathurin, is a future lottery pick and a top player in college basketball. If they continue to play at this level they can make a deep run however, there is a snag. If Arizona doesn’t get a 1 seed, they will likely be put in Gonzaga’s regional bracket because the NCAA committee will want to put as many good west coast teams in the west coast regional. And even though Arizona is playing very well, I don’t see them knocking off Gonzaga. So, if Arizona wants a solid shot at the final four and national championship, they need to shoot for a 1 seed, which is well within their reach.

Murray State

The Murray State Racers have raced off to an impressive 23-2 start to the 2021-2022. That’s the second best start in school history, behind the 2011-2012 season when they started 23-0, and finished the season 31-2 after losing in the round of 32 to 3 seed Marquette. Murray St. currently boasts the best record in college basketball, with a win loss percentage that just slightly edges the Auburn Tigers. They may not have Ja Morant this year, but they have their fair share of talent. 6’10 forward K.J Williams leads the racers in scoring, averaging 17.6 ppg and 8.6 rebounds per game. Junior guard Tevin Brown and sophomore Justice Hill lead a strong backcourt, averaging 17 ppg and 13.6 ppg respectively. Murray State is ranked #22 in the AP Poll, #28th in the NET, and #27th in Kenpom. 


Arkansas has ripped off nine wins in a row, including an upset over No. 1 Auburn in OT on Tuesday. Their nine game win streak started with a 87 to 43 drubbing of Missouri. They then beat No.12 LSU(at the time), South Carolina, Texas A&M in OT, Ole Miss, West Virginia, Georgia, and Mississippi St. The Razorbacks are led by the leading scorer in the SEC and one of the most underrated players in College Basketball, J.D Notae. Notae has the ability to take over a game, and will his team to victory, like he did against Auburn. Arkansas’ strength lies in their backcourt with the likes of Notae, Devo Davis, Au’Diese Toney, Stanley Umude, and Chris Lykes. Their backcourt is their X Factor, it  boasts the speed, shooting, and talent to carry them far. The only drawback is their frontcourt. Arkansas has a serious lack of size, and is vulnerable to offensive rebounding. 

1 Seeds

2 Seeds

3 Seeds

4 Seeds




Texas Tech











Michigan St