From the long-shots like Longwood to the blue chips like Baylor and Duke, here is your user-friendly guide to get caught up on every NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament team for 2022.
BY MATTY D.
This guide is a work-in-progress on Selection Sunday and the following Monday….
Arizona Wildcats 2022 College Basketball Summary
This is very surprising to say, but Arizona might have the best combo guard in the entire nation. If you are reading before the tournament tips off, the nation is about to meet Benedict Mathurin. He is like watching a Russell Westbrook who is more willing to pass and also capable of hitting an open three pointer. Mathurin plays with great pace as does this entire Wildcats squad. They ran USC out of the gym in a late February matchup on national TV. The irony there was that they looked like “Dunk City” against the former Florida Gulf Coast Coach. At 6-11, Azoulas Tubelis is a nightmare matchup for defenses as he also runs the floor with ease on the fast break. A team that can keep its foot on the gas pedal is very dangerous in March. Tommy Lloyd is a first time coach, but he has spent decades as an assistant at Gonzaga. And so it shouldn’t be shocking to see his team play with this sort of offensive firepower. And, it’s possible this team makes a magical run with a “first time coach” in name only.
Baylor Bears 2022 College Basketball Summary
Baylor has fortified its position as a blue blood this season. No one expected this team to be competing for a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They lost three rotation guards from its national championship team, plus lost powerful power forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua late this year to a season-ending injury. You’d be stupid to write off the Baylor Bears at this point. However, they’ve out-paced expectations about three times over already. After transferring to two different locations, point guard James Akinjo has finally found a comfortable home in Waco. His play this season has sustained their championship potential. I think Baylor’s prospects to make its way back to the Final Four rest on the abilities of Kendall Brown and Matthew Mayer to score the ball. Akinjo has played injured down the stretch. Flo Thamba and Jeremy Sochan have provided stellar backcourt play in aggravating offenses and attacking the defensive glass. Junior Adam Flagler returned for a junior season and provided a stable scoring threat at shooting guard. The X factor for this team might come down to the scoring abilities of Brown and Mayer late in games and late in the tournament.
Bryant Bulldogs 2022 College Basketball Summary
The headline from Bryant’s dominate NEC Championship win against Wagner was all about the brawl that happened among fans in the crowd. It was an embarrassing live TV moment on national TV as it took administrators literally over a half hour to sort out before resuming a blowout with just over 4 minutes left. Still, don’t overlook the fact that Bryant has the nation’s leading scorer. There is a well established tradition in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament where leading scorers find a way to serve the upset (Read 5 more trends that stuck as annual traditions by clicking here). It happened with CJ McCollum and more recently, Max Abmas. Peter Kiss looks like Jimmer Fredette out on the court the way he hops around and scores from all three levels. He doesn’t have the 3-point range that Fredette did, but he can dunk with authority unlike Fredette did. Kiss talks a lot of trash and might just excite a neutral site crowd to cheer for his team. Peter Kiss led the nation in scoring, but still didn’t get voted as his own conference’s player of the year. That’s likely because of his bad sportsmanship when showing up opponents (this was showcased in the ESPN broadcast of the championship game). Bryant has some size and confuses offenses by alternating between man and zone defense. This should be a fun game to watch between Bryant and Wright State because both teams have some exciting elements to their play.
The Titans lost a pair of games to Mountain West Conference teams late in the fall, which is worth looking at as a measuring stick now. They played a clean game against Wyoming, only giving up 8 turnovers. But they jacked up 16 three pointers, only hitting 12 of them. E.J. Anosike is their best player at power forward. He operates well from the mid-range area. The question is who can step up as the number two scorer? In the game against San Diego State, 6-6 senior guard Tray Maddox Jr. led the way with 15 points. However, again Cal State jacked up 22 three pointers, only making 7 of them. Cal State is middle-of-the-pack in offensive and defensive metrics. They bottled up Big West Player of the Year (point guard) Colin Slater, forcing him to turn the ball over 5 times in a loss. The Titans have the athletes to compete, but they are not among the most feared mid-major teams entering the tournament. I think it’s fair to say that a ten point loss to a power conference team is a likely expectation for this team’s ceiling.
Colgate Raiders 2022 College Basketball Summary
Colgate won the Patriot League championship in convincing fashion. They handed Navy a 16 point defeat. Colgate is headlined by a pair of senior guards, Tucker Richardson and Nelly Cummings. They score a combined 27 points per game. 6-10 forward Keegan Records adds 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. The Raiders are a top 100 offense, according to Kenpom.com. But when I watched them, I wasn’t wowed. So I dove into the numbers to help discover why. Kenpom also has them listed as the 203rd ranked adjusted defensive efficiency, which will rank among the worst with tournament teams (Delaware, South Dakota State and Bryant being in the same vicinity). Colgate was dominant in the Patriot League, but that shouldn’t be expected in a top-heavy NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2022.
Gonzaga Bulldogs 2022 College Basketball Summary
Whether fair or unfair, I look through Gonzaga’s team through the lens of “will this be the year that they finally win a championship?”
And sadly, my answer is no for one simple reason. Last year’s Gonzaga team was actually more talented than this 2022 campaign. And that’s why, with even more national champion threats out there, I can’t imagine Gonzaga winning it all. Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert were first round picks in the NBA Draft. Suggs looked like Jason Kidd in a Gonzaga uniform, only he blocked shots too. Losing those players cannot be overlooked. Yes, Chet Homgren is a great prospect and having an outstanding freshman season for the Bulldogs. But he got punked by Paolo Banchero in their early season matchup when the Duke bigs went after Gonzaga in the post (and won the game). That November 26, 2021 game looked and sounded like a National Championship game. Gonzaga point guard Andrew Nembhard was the best point guard on the floor. However, Drew Timme and Chet Homgren were outplayed by Mark Williams, Banchero, and others in the post. Timme had 17 points, but he also struggled with 5 turnovers. Watch highlights of this game and try to make an argument that Gonzaga should be the odds-on favorite right now (which it is) to win a national title. You can’t.
As it was aptly put by Jim Nantz and the CBS Broadcasting crew at Iowa won its surprising Big Ten Championship, this team has a family theme. Coach Fran McCaffery is coaching his two sons. And the Murray brothers are mainstays in the rotation. Keegan Murray is a stretch forward who can play inside out. He is among the nation’s best players. Iowa can be streaky from the three point line, but if they’re hitting, watch out! And while the family theme is the popular narrative of the Big Ten season finale, it’s a point guard who is emerging that’s become the show in my opinion. Tony Perkins started the season logging minutes in the teens or single digits. He’d produce 1, 2, or 3 assists per game. Now, he is averaging 25+ minutes and has dished out 19 assists in the last four games. He is averaging nearly 12 points in those clutch games (wins against Indiana and Purdue in the Big Ten tournament, to name a few). This team lost Luka Garza to graduation and the NBA. And while they didn’t replace him with a core post scorer, they have plenty of quality college basketball players around the paint to pick up the slack. This team earned its way to a 4 or 5 seed, which should result in regional preference. However, it’s worth noting that they’ve played sub top 25 basketball earlier this season. This would quality as a very high ceiling and a low floor type of team. For now, they are Big Ten Champions!
If you are looking for a low seed to get blown out, this might be the bet for you. That’s a fair statement, only because of the historic nature for which Jacksonville made this tournament. Bellarmine won the ASUN tournament, but can’t compete in the NCAA Tournament because of its recent transition from Division II. That leaves Jacksonville State, which didn’t even make the championship game in the ASUN. It is the regular season champion. You hate to see a team make the tournament in this way. You could say the Gamecocks are playing with house money. Or, you could recognize that it enters the NCAA tournament with a NET ranking of 140. That would rank near the very bottom 5 of the tournament qualifiers.
Kansas Jayhawks 2022 College Basketball Summary
The Kansas Jayhawks continue to dominate the Big 12 in historic fashion. Head Coach Bill Self has led the team to the conference regular season title (or at least a share) in the last 16 of 18 seasons. This is incredible. As for the makeup of this team, Arizona State point guard transfer Remi Martin probably didn’t have as successful a season as Allen Fieldhouse fans had hoped to see. With the Sun Devils he flashed some spectacular and exciting play. He’s been a bit muted in his crimson and blue. Conversely, shooting guard Ochai Agbaji has carefully improved his game over the years and is a likely NBA first round talent. Agbaji can and has carried KU to victories by himself. He has “get on my shoulders, teammates” type talent. The Jayhawks have a front line that can certainly compete, but there are no similar premium stars down low. By most accounts, power forward David McCormick has not been consistent enough during his KU career. He can score a double-double, or become a non-factor. His game log is riddled with double-doubles, but when it comes to the high profile games like against Dayton and Texas Tech, he registered 4 points 6 rebounds or 5-and-5 respectively. You wonder if an elite team can focus on shutting down Agbaji in its defensive strategy and find its path to victory.
Kentucky Wildcats 2022 College Basketball Summary
Things were looking great for Kentucky mid-season, but they started getting a little shaky late. The Wildcats messed around with Texas A&M and Vanderbilt late in the season. Then finally, they were exposed in the post by Tennessee. As great as Oscar Tshiebwe has been at power forward this year, and he has been amazing, he cannot do it alone in the post. If you’re new to college basketball, Tshiebwe is a finalist for the Karl Malone power forward award and he looks the part. However, on defense Tennessee and other teams were able to penetrate and get some easy hoops down low against Kentucky. And so UK needs to find more support in the post. TyTy Washington is one of the highly touted NBA prospects on this team, but between injury and a lack of aggression, he has not looked dominant down the strength. Davidson transfer Kellan Grady epitomizes the nice touch of senior leadership that this team has. He races around the wing without the ball looking for an open shot akin to how Reggie Miller and (his fellow Davidson Wildcat Steph Curry) does. The veteran experience is a welcomed change of pace for the historically youthful Coach John Calipari-led teams. However, you shouldn’t expect this team to get embarrassed by a 14 or 15 seed, but you should also not book their plane ticket to the Final Four just yet.
Longwood Lancers 2022 College Basketball Summary
Any observation about the Longwood Lancers has to start with its fantastic point guard, Justin Hill. The sophomore from Houston navigated the Lancers way through the Big South Tournament to a championship. He is strong, smart, can score and probes with the right tempo for the moment. He was really impressive to watch down the stretch and leading to its tournament berth. Defenses can’t let him penetrate to around the free throw line, because Hill will make the right decision in that top of the paint. Like many mid-major teams, Longwood is missing length at the rim. However, 6-4 Virginia Tech transfer Isaiah Wilkins brings the beef. He is a handful at 220 lbs. (on paper), but can stretch the defense to have to guard him behind the line. Longwood ranks within the top 100 teams in the nation with 3 pointers made this season, at 252. A lot of people have never heard of Longwood basketball. Based on what we are watching from this team in early March, that is likely to change soon.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers 2022 College Basketball Summary
This team has one holdover from the Final 4 team and a lot of the same winning qualities. For one, they don’t quit. They were losing by double digits early in their championship game against Drake when they went on a serious run. The run was fueled by tempting the Bulldogs to take bad threes (which they did) and turning those long rebounds into a transition offense. They only commit 12 turnovers a game as a team, which is right outside of the top 100 among the NCAA. However, they show a steady hand and methodical approach under pressure. Forward Aher Uguak has taken his game to a new level. He can score in the traditional post, but also run the floor with the rest of his offense. Loyola should be feared just as the were when former coach (now Oklahoma’s head man) Porter Moser was there.
LSU head coach Will Wade just got fired by the university as a result of NCAA violations discovered as part of an FBI probe. And while federal investigators had the phone lines tapped, LSU Tiger players continue stripping opposing offenses of the ball. In an odd twist, LSU sticks as one of my 5 best long-shot values to make a Final Four in 2022. Click here to read more about how the LSU Tigers stock should be bought at a discount.
Montana State Bobcats 2022 College Basketball Summary
Like many high seeds, Montana State will enter the tournament at an understandable 250-1 to make a Final Four. They got multiple contributions in an impressive Big Sky championship win, but that league hasn’t been as competitive nationally in the last 5 years as compared to the previous 5. The Bobcats’ signature non-conference game this season was a four point loss to Colorado. They also got smoked by the sexy offense of South Dakota State.
Murray State Racers 2022 College Basketball Summary
This team is as scary a mid-major team as they come. Holdovers from the Ja Morant (Sweet 16) team, KJ Williams and Tevin Brown, are just a pair of their very athletic group. Brown set a record for the most threes made in his OVC career. KJ Williams is the OVC’s most valuable player. Williams is listed at 6-10 and 245 pounds. He looks like a Demarcus Cousins with his huge frame, but he was showing off his three point touch in the OVC Tournament. This roster is a great collection of experienced upper class-men and up-and-coming stars. Sophomores Justice Hill, Trae Hannibal, and DJ Burns add a combined 28 points per game. Murray State can play up-tempo, but defend against a grind-them-out type of team. To be true to their brand name, the Racers can run any team out of the gym.
New Mexico Aggies 2022 College Basketball Summary
Watch out for this team! The Aggies have the one ingredient that so many mid-majors starve for, but cannot secure. They have a dynamic scorer who can take over a game. Teddy Allen has had a turbulent NCAA career. It seems like ages ago where he was instant offense as a freshman coming off the West Virginia bench. But now he’s the star of the show in Las Cruces, New Mexico. New Mexico has the other ingredient that so often keeps mid-major teams from advancing: size. The roster is constructed of three players at 6-10 and taller. Redshirt senior Johnny McCants (at 6-7) also brings some toughness down low. Entering the tournament, the Aggies had out-rebounded its opponents this season 1,228 to 999.
Richmond Spiders 2022 College Basketball Summary
You are going to hear countless times about how the Richmond Spiders “stole a bid” from someone. Use your eyes. They actually secured a bid for the Atlantic 10 Conference, which legitimately had six teams deserving of a bid. There was Davidson, St. Bonaventure, St. Louis, Dayton, VCU and then Richmond. All of those teams rank somewhere in the top 30 to top 70 throughout the season in the NET Rankings. And so this story about how Richmond “stole a bid” by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament should be turned on its head. Luckily, the conference will not be punished for its first through sixth best teams beating up on each other. As for the Spiders themselves, there is a “Big 3” here. Jacob Gilyard has a very accomplished NCAA career. He is taking advantage of the COVID-19 extra year and taking the NCAA’s record for most career steals. As shown in that A10 title game, he can also run and offense and score when necessary. Tyler Burton is a budding pro as a 6-7 small forward. And Grant Golden is a 6-10 center (listed at power forward but he plays the 5 most times) who the offense runs through. This team spaces the floor terrifically, trusts each other, and is battle tested. There are no shortage of role players such as Nathan Cayo and Matt Grace. And Sullivan Kulju might make the NCAA Best Hair list if he keeps this up from the sidelines.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits 2022 College Basketball Summary
The Jackrabbits are a problem. For anyone watching championship week in full, you already know how dangerous this team is. They have one of the nation’s best offenses, which is crazy to think about stemming from the Summit League. Yet, they scored at a 69% field goal percentage in a semifinal game during the championship (watch below). The Jackrabbits knock down threes at an NCAA record pace. They’ve won the most games (28) in program history. This team is under seeded if they are not a 12 or lower.
The Peacocks were a championship result from the MAC after the convincing favorite from that conference, Rick Pitino’s Iona team, got shocked by a 9 seed in the opening round. The Peacocks performed valiantly in their championship game against Monmouth. They got key players into foul trouble, contained a 7-footer in the post, and kept Seton Hall transfer Shaver Reynolds from getting into the zone offensively. Like many high seeds, they will enter the tournament at an understandable 250-1 to make a Final Four.
UAB was on life support multiple times this season. They were all but declared dead in a Conference USA Championship semifinal game. Yet, UAB is here! The Blazers are one of my favorite long-shot odds to make a Final Four. Click here to read why the UAB Blazers are so dangerous and to see the rest of my top 5 future values.
Vermont Catamounts 2022 College Basketball Summary
Watching the American East Championship game on a Saturday morning is a tradition of March Madness. Yet, in 2022 it was fairly non-competitive for the first time in recent memory. Vermont knows what it’s doing on offense. The Catamounts blew out UMBC. They’ve won 17 games in conference, which is an impressive accomplishment;ishment by itself. Senior Ryan Davis might look like an agile version of a left tackle at 250. Yet, he is the American East player of the year. Vermont is top 10 nationwide in assist-to-turnover ratio. They also rank in the top 10 nationwide in limiting their turnovers. Vermont might not win outright in their first round matchup, but they should test the defensive scheme of some major power conference team somewhere.
Villanova Wildcats 2022 College Basketball Summary
Jay Wright’s team has perhaps the best point guard in the tournament. Collin Gillespie does it all on the basketball floor. In this, his final season, Gillespie has had a knack for hitting the dramatic game winner. This Villanova team looks familiar. Its features a 4-guard lineup on the floor for large chunks of the game. They are not deep and they are not especially tall, but you wouldn’t dare say they can’t make a deep run. The players have a lot of tournament experience. Jermaine Samuels, Justin Moore, Caleb Daniels, and Brandon Slater all starred in a Sweet 16 berth last year and a competitive game against eventual champion, Baylor. They do not have a center at 6-10 or above, but center Eric Dixon‘s role has greatly improved over the years. In a February 5th game against a taller frontline in UCONN, Dixon showed out with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Villanova has been the Big East’s best chance at a Final Four team in the last decade or so. Although UCONN and Creighton are playing well down the stretch, Villanova should still be considered the Big East’s highest ceiling team.
The Raiders win the award for most resilient team, up until this point. They stormed back against Oakland and also in the Horizon Championship game, both on national TV. Big man Grant Basile is a problem down low, measuring at 6-9 and 225 lbs. His traditional post play allows some wings to fly around and hit mid-range jumpers. This is the stereotypical team that can agitate a super power. For you bettors out there, don’t ignore a huge spread if the Raiders come out flat in the first half. They have the comeback “bug” right now. However, this isn’t a team I would expect to make a magical Sweet 16 run.
Yale Bulldogs 2022 College Basketball Summary
Yale made it look easy at times against a tired Princeton team in the Ivy League Championship game. Tertiary players like Matthew Cotton are blossoming at the right time for this team. They are getting contributions from almost a full roster. If you remember, Yale was one of the earliest advocates of halting play amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. There are multiple interesting storylines developing from that, including this note according to the Yale Daily News:
“Yale guard Azar Swain ’22 scored a game-high 23 points as the Bulldog defense held Princeton’s strong three-point shooters in check for most of the game. Swain, who took a leave of absence last year to preserve his final season of Ivy League eligibility, was named the Most Outstanding Player of Ivy Madness.”