So, the 2022-’23 NCAA college basketball season is finally here.
Before you know it, people will be drooling in anticipation of the remarkable March Madness tournament. We include ourselves in that. Why do you think we're writing this?
We have put our heads together here in The Jump Hub office (always a dangerous game) and tried to predict each state’s best team this season. There’s a lot of guesswork, of course, so try not to get to give yourself an embolism if we’ve overlooked something.
See if you agree with our logic, what little of it there is but, before we get down to it...
A quick word about rankings
The Associated Press has been ranking the top basketball teams since 1948. The top 25 teams in Division I are ranked using the ballots of 65 sports journalists from across the country. The ranking has no official say in the March Madness tournament selection process. Even a No. 1 ranking in the AP poll does not guarantee any team a place.
The coaches' poll uses the exact same premise. This time, the votes are cast by head coaches representing each of the 32 Division 1 Conferences.
Alabama Crimson Tide
AP ranking: 20
Coaches’ ranking: 19
March Madness odds progression @ 51.00
As unlikely as it might seem, of the 358 teams in NCAA basketball, Alabama currently has three in the top 40. Auburn is actually ranked above Crimson Tide. The UAB Blazers are less highly-rated but not to be written off entirely.
All three have a decent chance
Auburn and CT in the extremely difficult SEC. UAB in Conference USA.
We’re backing Crimson Tide to do the business in the SEC. Largely on the back of incoming freshman Brandon Miller
The 6’9” (2.06m) and 200lb (91kg) 19-year-old sounds like the real deal.
He won’t be eligible for the NBA Draft until 2026.
Feel old yet?
Crimson Tide are ranked 20th and 19th in the Associated Press and coaches’ polls.
The betting markets predict that they have a 2% chance of being crowned champions, with NCAA March Madness Tournament odds @ 51.00.
Who are we to argue with them? Those algorithms are pretty smart you know?
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AP ranking: 17
Coaches’ ranking: 13
March Madness odds progression: @ 23.00
The two teams competing in Pac-12 are Arizona’s best offering this season. Losing a plethora of talent in the off-season cannot have helped their chances of success, however.
The rivalry between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Wildcats goes all the way back to 1913!
Our leaning this season is towards the Wildcats
Having won 11 of their last 14 matchups, this hardly constitutes sticking our necks out very far.
With the best will in the world, Northern Arizona University are unlikely to trouble the top of the Big Sky Conference.
The Grand Canyon Antelopes in WAC, however, have a serious chance to make an impact.
Some disagreement between the Associated Press and coaches’ polls (17th and 13th) but both have them ranked top 25.
We’re sticking with the Wildcats as the best team in the state but are excited to see if we’re right. Time will tell.
We think that some impact might be made by:
Azuolas Tubelis: ('21/'22, *PTS: 13.9, TRB: 6.2, AST: 2.3, FG%: 54.0%)
His numbers are looking even better already this season:
('22/'23, PTS: 20.0, TRB: 7.5, AST: 3.0, FG%: 76.2%)
76.2% field goal conversion rate!!! Calm down. It's early days yet though...
The betting markets think they have a 4.3% chance of winning, putting their March Madness betting odds @ 23.00
AP ranking: 10
Coaches ranking: 10
March Madness odds progression: @ 16.00 — @ 21.00
There is a rather significant gap in capability between the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.
The latter is ranked among the bottom 20% of teams in NCAA basketball.
On the other hand, the Razorbacks are likely to be legitimate contenders in the highly-competitive SEC.
Although they have tried to arrange a matchup with the Razorbacks for many years, the Red Wolves turned down the opportunity to do so last season.
To be fair, they had a fairly full playing schedule to fulfil at the time.
The top Razorback from the last campaign that they have retained into this season is:
Davonte Davis: ('21/'22, PTS: 8.3, TRB: 3.7, AST: 2.8, FG%: 42.9%)
The Associated Press and coaches’ polls both have them ranked 10th in the country. But it’s tough at the top and 10th seems a touch optimistic to us.
We wait with bated breath to see if we are on the money...
The online sportsbooks have lengthened their NCAA March Madness odds sightly from @ 16.00 to @ 21.00. From a predicted 6.3% chance down to 4.8%
AP ranking: 8
Coaches’ ranking: 7
March Madness odds progression: @ 13.00 — @ 14.00
With 26 Division I programs, more than any other state, it was a tough call to choose the best Golden State team.
This caused a fair bit of consternation in our debate for this article. In the end, the UCLA Bruins took the selection. But San Diego St. Aztecs ran them close.
The return of:
Tyger Campbell: ('21/'22, PTS: 11.9, TRB: 2.5, AST: 4.3, FG%: 44.4%)
Jaime Jaquez Jr: ('21/'22, PTS: 13.9, TRB: 5.7, AST: 2.3, FG%: 47.2%)
...pipped it for UCLA. Both of them are All-American players. What team wouldn’t be glad to see the return of a pair with stats like those?
They also enrolled some serious talent and have a solid chance of making the Final Four for the 20th in the college’s history time this season.
Who were we kidding? It wasn’t close at all.
The Associated Press poll has them 8th. The coaches, 7th. San Diego came in at 19th and 20th respectively. Both teams should be formidable opponents either way.
Bookmakers currently give UCLA a predicted 7.1% chance of taking the tournament victory with NCAA March Madness betting odds @ 14.00
Colorado State Rams
March Madness odds progression: @ 501.00
Of the 5 Division I teams from Colorado, we’ve plumped for the Colorado State Rams. We feel they just have the edge over the Buffaloes this season. This was a tough call, as the Buffaloes have the 6’8” (2.03m) 200lb (91kg):
Tristan da Silva: ('21/'22, PTS: 9.4, TRB: 3.5, AST: 2.0, FG%: 47.9%)
Voted top 10 Pac-12 players preseason. With:
Isaiah Stevens: ('21/'22, PTS: 14.7, TRB: 3.2, AST: 4.7, FG%: 46.1%)
...out until next year, we felt that the team really lost a key force on the court. Still, we’re sticking with the Rams for now.
Sadly for Colorado, it seems unlikely that any of their teams will be able to really challenge to top their respective conferences.
We will happily be proven wrong on this one. But the bookmakers are seldom too far wrong and they have the Colorado State Rams sitting at 501.00 to win the NCAA March Madness Tournament. That's a 0.2% chance of victory.
We won’t hold our breaths…
March Madness odds progression: @ 61.00 — @ 76.00
There really isn’t much competition for UConn as the best college basketball team in Connecticut. The team has a chance of topping the Big East Conference in their 3rd season since returning.
Having spent over 20 million US dollars to exit the AAC and rejoin the Big East, you’d better believe people are expecting big things from them.
They were seeded 5th in the West Regional bracket of the NCAA March Madness last season. But they lost out in the first round to the 12th seed, New Mexico State.
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.
The Huskies have the formidable 6’8” (2.06m) 245lb (111kg):
Adama Sanogo: ('21/'22, PTS: 14.8, TRB: 8.8, AST: 1.0, FG%: 50.4%)
...to turn to. Just look at those stats. They also boast:
Andre Jackson Jr: ('21/'22, PTS: 6.8, TRB: 6.8, AST: 3.1, FG%: 42.6%)
...at point guard.
They could do a lot worse.
Online sportsbooks are giving the Huskies a predicted 1.3% chance of triumph. NCAA March Madness betting odds @ 76.00
Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
March Madness odds progression: @ 2001.00
The Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens are just above the middle of the pack in terms of ranking across the whole NCAA.
Jameer Nelson Jr: ('21/'22, PTS: 13.6, TRB: 4.9, AST: 2.2, FG%: 44.6%)
…was their highest scorer last season in the Colonial Conference (CAA)
They have a core of around 7 players that take the bulk of the minutes but within that core they are still lacking a nailed-on scorer to elevate them a level further.
But their only competition in being the best team from the state is Delaware State and they rank second from the bottom.
Fightin' Blue Hens it is then!
There’s more chance of us getting a team together here in The Jump Hub office and winning the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Bookmakers are currently predicting a less than 0.1% chance @ 2001.00
But does that mean they shouldn’t try?
March Madness odds progression: @ 126.00
All three of Florida’s NCAA teams are ranked in the top 30 of 358. It could easily be described as the tightest call on this list to choose the best of them.
Online sportsbooks have the Florida Seminoles as the more likely team to reach the NCAA post-season tournament:
March Madness odds progression: @ 81.00 — @ 67.00
And by a significant margin as it stands.
We have just given the edge to the Miami Hurricanes and here’s why:
Losing to the eventual winners Kansas after making it to the Elite Eight for the first time in the school’s history must have hurt. But it must also have given them confidence and momentum.
They are bolstered by the likes of:
Isaiah Wong: ('21/'22, PTS: 15.3, TRB: 4.3, AST: 2.0, FG%: 45.2%) &
Nijel Pack: ('21/'22, PTS: 17.4, TRB: 3.8, AST: 2.2, FG%: 45.5%)
Check out those stats. The highest-scoring player mentioned in the article thus far. Pack is one of the best shooters around.
In a frankly disgusting decision, Baba Miller of the Seminoles will have to sit out half of the ’22-’23 season. His crime? To accept free travel to a training camp in his native Spain before he was even committed to the team.
Cutting off a young man in his prime for a (seemingly) innocent financial benefit (that was paid back) What is he supposed to do now? Sit on his arse and watch his teammates play? Absolutely shocking decision. Wasting a teenager's talent with no good reason whatsoever.
For shame NCAA.
Online betting markets have given the Hurricanes a predicted 0.8% chance of winning the NCAA March Madness tournament @ 126.00. Whereas they see something in the Seminoles that has led to a recent boost in their perceived chances. From 1.2% @ 81.00 to a lofty 1.5% @ 67.00
Oh well, you take what you can get in this game...
March Madness odds progression: @ 1001.00
It’s pretty tough to pick the best side from Georgia. And that’s not because all six are vying so hard. None of them is exactly screaming out to be chosen. The Peach State really is in a pretty abysmal situation when it comes to basketball.
The team we settled on won a grand total of six games last season. They binned their coach and haven't won an NCAA March Madness Tournament game for over 20 years.
Imagine how poor the other five must be for us to have come to this conclusion…
The less said about it the better. Let’s just move on.
Some of the teams we’ve chosen in this list have little or no competition within the state to be named the best team. The following team falls into that category:
@ 1001.00 March Madness betting odds, it seems that the betting markets agree with our dire view of the state of play.
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