Here are what we consider to be the best NCAA teams from states H - L
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.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
March Madness odds progression: @ 2501.00
Lack of local competition notwithstanding, Hawaii’s Rainbow Warriors could actually emerge as the Big West’s most competitive team.
The last time the Rainbow Warriors made it to the NCAA March Madness Tournament was 2016. It was also the first time in the school’s history that they won a game there. They beat the California Bears in the first round.
With a long-term coach in place, and set to remain until 2026 at least, Hawaii has finally managed to get some stability and some quality.
Let’s see how they can get on this season...
They clearly have no chance of winning the postseason tournament. Their NCAA March Madness odds of 2501.00 could not make that clearer.
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Boise State Broncos
March Madness odds progression: @ 751.00
The Mountain West Conference team still top the list in Idaho. Both the Vandals and the Bengals ply their trade in the Big Sky but cannot claim to match up to Boise State.
The Broncos have a very promising small forward in their ranks these days.
The 6’6” (2.01m) 231lb (105kg):
Tyson Degenhart: ('21/'22, PTS: 9.9, TRB: 3.9, AST: 0.9, FG%: 50%)
Promising stats, particularly that field goal percentage.
But much work is still needed
Combine these talents with the scoring of point guard:
Marcus Shaver: ('21/'22, PTS: 13.3, TRB: 3.7, AST: 2.1, FG%: 40.8%)
…and things are looking up.
This cannot fail to boost their chances of reaching the NCAA March Madness tournament for the 4th time under the guidance of head coach Leon Rice.
Bookmakers are not confident that they can do much better than that though. They are currently giving the Broncos a predicted 0.1% chance of victory with NCAA March Madness betting odds @ 751.00
Illinois Fighting Illini
AP ranking: 23
Coaches ranking: 23
@ 51.00 — @ 61.00
Even with an impressive 13 Division 1 teams in Illinois, there is very little competition for the Fighting Illini as the best. In fact, there might not be much competition for them to be among the best teams in the whole competition.
Some are predicting them to make a deeper run into the post-season this time around.
We are struggling to argue with that too much.
They lost out to the Houston Cougars in the second round of NCAA March Madness last season. But the Cougars are a very decent team. They only lost out to Villanova in the regional final by 6 points themselves, so that does not tell us a great deal.
Some new arrivals look to bolster their roster and show some reasonable stats:
Matthew Mayer: ('21/'22, PTS: 9.8, TRB: 5.0, AST: 1.0, FG%: 40.9%) &
Terrence Shannon Jr: ('21/'22, PTS: 10.4, TRB: 2.6, AST: 2.0, FG%: 45.5%)
They should give us a better idea of just how good the Illini will be fairly soon into the season. Both the Associated Press and the coaches’ polls have them ranked 23rd. Watch this space.
Sportsbooks have dropped their predicted chances of winning the postseason from 2% to 1.6% with NCAA tournament betting odds @ 61.00
AP ranking: 13
Coaches’ ranking: 14
@ 31.00 — @ 36.00
It was a difficult choice to make when it came to the best NCAA team in Indiana.
Of the impressive eleven Division I teams, traditional wisdom would say that the Hoosiers stand out. And we can’t really argue with that. But the representatives from West Lafayette might have a thing or two to say about it these days. Purdue has a more tried-and-tested coach in Matt Painter but perhaps the weaker roster.
For us, the difference is that the Hoosiers have the rather astonishing:
Trayce Jackson-Davis: ('21/'22, PTS: 18.3, TRB: 8.1, AST: 1.9, FG%: 58.9%)
Take a look at those numbers and compare them to any other player mentioned thus far in this article. If that’s not a game-changing player then we don’t know what is. Over 18 points and 8 assists? Almost 59% shooting from the field! Wow
Both teams must have their goals firmly set on making the NCAA Playoffs.
They can hope for good seed positions, in fact.
Both the Associated Press and Coaches’ polls agree with us and rank them 13th and 14th respectively.
The betting markets have them hovering around the 3% mark when it comes to their predicted chances of winning, with NCAA March Madness odds @ 36.00
Iowa State Cyclones
March Madness odds progression: @ 301.00
It’s another tough call to pick the best team from Iowa. Drake made the NCAA Tournament first round in 2021 but not last season.
Whereas the Hawkeyes participated in a spot of March Madness last season. Losing in the first round to the Richmond Spiders. Albeit by only 4 points.
The Cyclones went all the way to the Sweet 16 Midwest semifinals. Losing out to the Miami Hurricanes. They themselves lost out to the eventual winners, the Kansas Jayhawks in the regional final.
So - the Cyclones are the best then? Well, maybe.
The betting markets don’t seem to think so. They have the Hawkeyes @ 201.00
But we’re sticking with them for now. As far as we're concerned, it pays to factor in the ‘McCaffery effect’. His record of taking teams (including the Hawkeyes, of course) to NCAA Tournaments is rock solid.
On top of that, in terms of points-per-possession, Fran McCaffery has breached the top 20 for the last 5 years straight.
No mean feat…
But that March Madness run had to give the Cyclones a boost and we have them as the best team in Iowa right now. Just...
The bookmakers don't think they'll cause much trouble to the NCAA Tournament and give them a 0.3% chance of winning. Their March Madness betting odds sit @ 301.00
AP ranking: 5
Coaches’ ranking: 5
@ 21.00 — @ 18.00
Now then. We were never likely to choose any other team from Kansas the Sunflower State. The reigning NCAA champions swept all before them in the March Madness tournament last season and should still be riding high.
Ochai Agbaji: ('21/'22, PTS: 18.8, TRB: 5.1, AST: 1.6, FG%: 47.5%)
was instrumental in the Jayhawks’ dominance in 2021/’22. His 18.8 points per game across 35 minutes cannot be overstated. The team was not overflowing with high-scorers and could not have coped so well without those crucial points. In fact, after:
Christian Braun: ('21/'22, PTS: 14.1, TRB: 6.5, AST: 2.8, FG%: 49.5%)
…the drop-off in scoring was quite severe. Only the first 4 players were in double figures. Of the 2 players, we might argue that Braun contributed more all-round performances. Higher rebounds and assists made him equally valuable, if not more so.
The problem for Kansas?
Both of those players graduated and are now playing for NBA teams. Agbaji with Utah Jazz, Braun the Denver Nuggets.
Time for their rebound leader from last season:
Jalen Wilson: ('21/'22, PTS: 11.1, TRB: 7.4, AST: 1.8, FG%: 46.1%)
…to step up and make name for himself as a high scorer too. He will, so far it seems, be ably assisted by freshman Gradey Dick. The youngster has already hit 23 points in 32 minutes of his first game. A 64 : 89 win against the Omaha Mavericks.
Their state rivals, the Kansas State Wildcats will take some momentum into the new season with a new head coach in Jerome Tang. Time will tell whether he can wrangle some decent performances out of them so, for now, we’re sticking with the Jayhawks.
Wichita State brings up the rear and is going to have a challenge on its hands to compete in the American Athletic Conference.
Bookmakers have increased their predicted chances of winning from 4.8% to 5.6%. Their NCAA March Madness betting odds have shortened accordingly from @ 21.00 to @ 18.00
AP ranking: 4
Coaches’ ranking: 4
@ 9.00 — @ 13.00 — @ 9.00
The Kentucky Wildcats are universally well-rated and it’s not hard to see why.
Beaten in the first round by eventual regional finalists, St. Peter, we feel the team has it in them to maybe push a little further this season.
There’s no real competition to oust them from top spot in the Bluegrass State but they surely do face some stiff competition in the SEC. They will have to go hard and ride the expectations behind them to succeed in one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA.
It is 8 years since the Wildcats made Final Four and 11 since their last national title.
They are going to need big performances from players like:
Antonio Reeves: ('21/'22, PTS: 20.1, TRB: 3.5, AST: 1.8, FG%: 46.9%)
That kind of scoring is going to come in very handy.
Jacob Toppin: ('21/'22, PTS: 6.2, TRB: 3.2, AST: 1.1, FG%: 55.6%)
Although Toppin’s stats from last season don’t set the world alight, he simply wasn’t getting enough minutes to shine. We mention him here on the back of the one game he has played this season at the time of writing (9th Nov ’22). He took 15 points and snatched 11 rebounds, providing 2 assists.
His teammate, freshman Cason Wallace, made 9 assists and 8 rebounds in 35 minutes of that same game against Howard Bison. He grabbed 15 points with a 63.6% field goal success rate.
If those 2 can keep up that form, then we feel very confident about our prediction…
Betting markets have reduced what they see as the Wildcats' chances of winning from 11.1% to 7.7%. That is represented by their March Madness betting odds lengthening from @ 9.00 to @ 13.00
UPDATE: 16th Nov 2022
NCAA March Madness betting odds drop back down to @ 9.00
March Madness odds progression: @ 251.00
It’s hard to look beyond the LSU Tigers when trying to determine the best team in Louisiana. And we’re not going to.
But hold on. You’d better strap in.
We have seldom, make that never, seen a team lose its top 13 highest-scoring players in the off-season before. An entire roster gone.
Efton Reid III
That meant their highest-scoring player was now:
Mawani Wilkinson: ('21/'22, PTS: 4.0, TRB: 3.0, AST: 0.9, FG%: 43.9%)
The next most experienced player that LSU had left was, quite staggeringly:
Brandon Egemo: ('21/'22, PTS: 0.0, TRB: 0.0, AST: 0.0, FG%: 0.0%)
Egemo played an average of 1.8 minutes across just 5 games last season. The only other 2 players that LSU retained played just 2 games each. 1 minute and 30 seconds thereof, respectively.
So, what happened?
In a nutshell, LSU fired their head coach Will Wade after the NCAA accused him and the program of seven Level I violations.
The 2 best players, Eason and Days graduated and were snaffled up by the Houston Rockets. The rest entered the transfer market. There were others on the list, we’ve just highlighted the highest scorers.
New head coach Matt McMahon is figuratively and literally going to have to start from scratch. has a lot of work ahead of him to build a roster from the ground up.
He managed to bring:
Trae Hannibal: ('21/'22, PTS: 9.2, TRB: 5.1, AST: 2.5, FG%: 51.9%)
Justice Hill: ('21/'22, PTS: 13.4, TRB: 2.3, AST: 5.1, FG%: 43.1%)
…with him from Murray State. A couple of other names have also been recruited:
Kendal Coleman: ('21/'22, PTS: 15.4, TRB: 10.1, AST: 0.7, FG%: 54.6%)
Those three names are the reason that we still fancy LSU to recover and come out on top. Look at those stats. Coleman is a scoring/rebound master who converts almost 55% of his field goals. Between them, they have an average of 38 points per game, 17.7 rebounds, and 8.3 assists. If they can drag some performances out of their new teammates then all might not be lost.
Promising freshman Corneilous Williams also looks set to play.
How McMahon manages to wrangle them into a coherent unit is quite beyond us. We’ve honestly never seen anything quite like it.
They ply their trade in the SEC, one of the toughest conferences in the country. So, we don’t necessarily predict good things for them there.
But we just couldn’t resist the story if we pick them as the best in the state.
Imagine if they turn it around and tear it up on the court?
It will be a truly remarkable feat and we will look like savants (albeit idiot ones)
The markets don't think they have much chance of winning the postseason tournament. They predict a 0.4% chance with NCAA March Madness betting odds @ 251.00
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