Here are what we consider to be the best NCAA teams from states beginning with M
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.
View the latest AP & Coaches Poll rankings here
Maine Black Bears
New head coach, Chris Markwood, arrives in the remote town of Orono and gives the Black Bears hope for some success in the America East Conference.
The area is known for hockey. You can hit a puck clear into Canada from there if you’ve got a good strong action.
Interest in all things basketball is tough to stir up. As a result, there can be few harder places to go and try to coach a coherent, competitive team.
That might give us some clue as to why the Maine Black Bears have gone for 78 seasons without reaching the post-season NCAA tournament. The 6th longest in history…
But Markwood knows the score. He knows the area intimately after playing for the school and working as an assistant there for 5 seasons.
He has some talent to help him. Namely:
Maks Klankscek ('21/'22, PTS: 9.7, TRB: 2.2, AST: 1.6, FG%: 45.0%)
…and last season’s highest rebounder with 3:
Adefolarin Adetogun ('21/'22, PTS: 3.9, TRB: 3.0, AST: 1.4, FG%: 34.0%)
Ja’Shonte Wright-Mcleish ('21/'22, PTS: 7.4, TRB: 2.0, AST: 1.7, FG%: 42.1%)
We think you can probably begin to see the issue…
So, why have we chosen them as the best team in the state?
There aren’t any others.
Kudos for having some of the hardest names to spell if nothing else.
The Black Bears have no chance of reaching the postseason, let alone winning it. We could not find any bookmakers that are even giving them odds of doing so.
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March Madness odds progression: @ 301.00
Even with nine Division 1 NCAA basketball teams in Maryland, it has not often been a tight race when it comes to being the best.
The Terrapins have been easily the most accomplished team in the state for decades. Since hiring coach Gary Williams before the 1989/’90 season, the team has made 14 NCAA March Madness post-season tournaments.
11 of those back to back.
The Terrapins’ first Final Four appearance was in 2001 and they took the title the following year.
Their 2021/’22 performances were
Daron ‘Fatts’ Russell ('21/'22, PTS: 15.1, TRB: 4.1, AST: 3.7, FG%: 41.0%)
In his last year before graduating, Russell was rock solid, with some decent stats across the board.
Eric Ayala ('21/'22, PTS: 14.7, TRB: 4.6, AST: 2.1, FG%: 38.3%)
Some nice scoring but a pretty terrible rate of field goal conversion.
Donta Scott ('21/'22, PTS: 12.6, TRB: 6.2, AST: 1.2, FG%: 42.7%)
The only one of the three that still plies his trade for the Terrapins, Scott has started as he means to go on. 18 points in his first 32 minutes of 2022/‘23 at a rate of 53.8%.
If he carries on like that, he has serious potential
The team is unlikely to trouble some of the teams in the Big Ten Conference. It is among the toughest in the country. But the challenge can surely only help them to improve and remain the best team in Maryland.
With March Madness betting odds @ 301.00, the markets are predicting a 0.3% chance that the Terrapins can pull off the coup of a lifetime and win the postseason tournament.
March Madness odds progression: @ 501.00
Massachusetts is a particularly difficult state to predict and there is a very solid chance that we’re wrong to back the Minutemen. The Boston Golden Eagles look like strong underdogs too.
The Atlantic 10 is certain to be a ‘multiple-bid’ conference. Whether or not UMass can secure enough wins to automatically qualify for the post-season is in doubt. After finishing 4th last season, they might need a tournament win to sneak in.
Their top scorer from the 2021/’22 season:
Noah Fernandes ('21/'22, PTS: 14.9, TRB: 2.8, AST: 5.3, FG%: 43.5%)
…is back and he smashed it in 24 minutes of his first game. Snatching 8 rebounds and scoring 11 points.
The man to look to this season, however, might be:
T.J. Weeks Jr. ('21/'22, PTS: 9.6, TRB: 4.8, AST: 0.9, FG%: 41.7%)
It looks like he might be the player to step up and take the team by the scruff of the neck.
Clearly, it’s too early to take anything from one win. Especially an easy victory over the Central Connecticut Blue Devils. Keep your eyes on this one…
But don't get your hopes up too high for the postseason. Bookmakers predict a 0.2% chance that UMass can scoop the ultimate prize. Their March Madness betting odds are @ 501.00
March Madness odds progression: @ 121.00 — @ 101.00
Memphis have started well. One game, one win. Their high scorer was:
DeAndre Williams ('21/'22, PTS: 11.1, TRB: 8.1, AST: 1.3, FG%: 56.4%)
The Tigers lost out to Gonzaga Bulldogs in Round 2 of the NCAA March Madness last season.
They had a very full roster. Only 3 of whom scored in double figures. The problem they have is that they lost 7 of their top 10 scorers. Only Williams and Lomax remain. They look solid and will no doubt be a key partnership moving forwards.
The rest move up from the lower reaches of the roster but had very few minutes last season.
Useful new additions include the experienced:
Kendrick Davis: ('21/'22, PTS: 19.4, TRB: 3.8, AST: 4.4, FG%: 43.9%)
He scored a lot of points for the Southern Methodists last season and Memphis are going to need as many of those as they can get to improve this season.
Bookmakers haven’t written them off entirely @ 101.00. In fact, they've improved slightly from @ 121.00. But they might be looking at those issues we’ve touched upon and seeing little chance of success for the Tigers. A 1% chance, to be precise.
AP ranking: 22
Coaches’ ranking: 22
March Madness odds progression: @ 31.00
The Big 10 is a tough place to do business on the court. The schedule for the first 6 weeks alone is going to sort the wheat from the chaff.
There are, of course, no guarantees that the Wolverines end up surpassing Michigan State @ 61.00.
The betting markets seem to agree with us, however. Maybe it’s because the Wolverines have:
Hunter Dickinson ('21/'22, PTS: 18.6, TRB: 8.6, AST: 2.3, FG%: 56.3%)
The guy already took 21 points in 27 minutes of his first game this season. With an 81.8% success rate.
What the Wolverines really seem to be lacking is a playmaker on the court. Someone with a high basketball IQ who can create chances for others in an unselfish way.
Last season their highest average assists came from Devante’ Jones and Eli Brooks with 4.6 and 2.9 respectively.
But they’re both gone.
Pre-season All-America selection, Dickinson is destined to be a star. He can clearly be counted on to give his teammates a couple of chances per game.
But that’s not going to cut it. Not even close.
Let’s see if newcomer Jett Howard can be that man. He started off well, with 5 assists in game 1. Oh, and he threw in 21 points for good measure!
Ranked 22nd by the Associated Press and coaches' polls, there is an outside chance that the Wolverines can prevail. A 3.2% chance, in fact. According to their NCAA March Madness betting odds.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
March Madness odds progression: @ 201.00
The golden Gopher’s highest scorer/rebound taker from last season was:
Jamison Battle : ('21/'22, *PTS: 17.5, TRB: 6.3, AST: 1.0, FG%: 45.0%)
Payton Willis : ('21/'22, *PTS: 15.9, TRB: 4.8, AST: 4.3, FG%: 47.3%)
…dealt with assists and steals. But those players have gone. As have all but 2 of their entire roster.
It’s not unusual for college teams to lose a lot of players. But 10 in a single off-season? We think they might have real problems this season.
The only justification we have for picking them as the best team in the state is that there is no real competition.
They are sitting second from the bottom in the Big Ten right now.
They are not lacking in talent, with:
Dawson Garcia: ('21/'22, *PTS: 9.0, TRB: 5.5, AST: 0.7, FG%: 40.5%)
But his 17.0 points per game this season might be a little flattering after an average of just 9 last time around.
And, unless Ta’lon Cooper can single-handedly create every assist that they’re going to need? Where are the rest going to come from? Trenton Thompson is closest to him with 2.5. But he’s only getting 18 minutes a game.
@ 201.00 almost seems generous right now...
Ole Miss Rebels
March Madness odds progression: @ 251.00
The Ole Miss Rebels probably have an outside chance of making the NCAA postseason for the second time.
It seems that a lot of the responsibility for that is going to fall on the shoulders of:
Matthew Murrell: ('21/'22, *PTS: 12.1, TRB: 3.0, AST: 1.7, FG%: 42.7%)
He was the Rebels’ 3rd highest scorer last season but the 2 players above him have moved on. He’s the top dog as things stand but those numbers don’t scream ‘game-changer’ to us.
So far, he is actually acquitting himself quite nicely. After 3 games his numbers were as follows in an average of 35.3 minutes per game:
Matthew Murrell: ('22/'23, *PTS: 18.3, TRB: 5.0, AST: 3.7, FG%: 43.2%)
Additionally, he's not hurting anything with 2.7 steals per game. Those assists are going to be crucial moving forwards. But they’re not going to be nearly enough by themselves. His nearest teammate in terms of assists after 2 games is T.J Caldwell with 2. Not a good sign.
The team is currently 3-0 and finds itself joint-top of the SEC. But those results might be flattering to deceive at the moment. They have yet to face any serious opposition and the SEC is full of that.
We talked long and hard about this. Well, for a few minutes anyway. We’re giving the Ole Miss Rebels the edge over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Same conference. The Bulldogs are also 3-0
It might be a tight one…
The betting markets don't give much hope to the Ole Miss Rebels' chances. In fact, @ 251.00 gives them a predicted chance of 0.4% to take the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Not going to happen. But they just might push on and prove themselves the best team in Mississippi.
Get the popcorn and let's find out.
St. Louis Billikens
March Madness odds progression: @ 201.00 — @ 115.00
SLU are our pick again for the best team in Missouri this season. The Billikens (it’s a mythical good-luck figure) have some talent in their roster and we get a good feeling about them this time.
It’s 4 years since they lost against Virginia Tech in the first round of NCAA’s March Madness. Betting markets seem inclined to think that they might make it back there this season.
Down to @ 115.00 from @ 201.00, they are still extreme long shots to take a tournament victory (those odds represent a predicted 0.9% chance). But it gives us confidence that they will have the better of the Missouri Tigers (NCAA March Madness betting odds @ 251.00) and the Missouri Bears have no chance whatsoever.
Key players are going to be:
Javonte Perkins: ('22/'23, *PTS: 17.0, TRB: 1.0, AST: 0.5, FG%: 41.7%)
After being out injured last season, we think that Perkins is crucial for the success of Saint Louis this time around. Those scoring numbers are already reasonably promising after just 2 games. But he’s not the man to turn to for an assist. That man might just be:
Yuri Collins: ('21/'22, *PTS: 11.1, TRB: 4.1, AST: 7.9, FG%: 45.0%)
Solid numbers from him last season.
Those assists are especially impressive. So far this season:
Yuri Collins: (’22/'23, *PTS: 10.0, TRB: 1.0, AST: 13.5, FG%: 31.8%)
Wow. Averaging 13.5 assists per game. That puts him in an elite bracket with very few others. Keep an eye on the situation and see how that changes as the season progresses. So far, it’s amazing.
Let’s not forget about
Gibson Jimerson: (’21/'22, *PTS: 16.3, TRB: 2.3, AST: 0.8, FG%: 44.5%)
(’22/'23, *PTS: 19.0, TRB: 3.5, AST: 1.0, FG%: 46.4%)
Heavy hitting again this season for points. But, where are the rebounds coming from?
Look no further than newcomer:
Javon Pickett: (’22/'23, *PTS: 12.0, TRB: 13.0, AST: 0.5, FG%: 62.5%)
Between them, those represent a pretty rock-solid set of statistics.
Currently 1st in the Atlantic 10 conference, the Billikens have some serious potential. We don’t see them troubling the postseason tournament too drastically, but have them down to reach it at least.
Good luck to them.
Montana State Bobcats
March Madness odds progression: @ 1501.00
The Montana State Bobcats made it to the NCAA postseason in 2021/’22. If they can do so again then it will be the first time in the school’s history that they managed to get there in back-to-back seasons.
In doing so, they have finally surpassed the Grizzlies. Who also happen to have March Madness betting odds of @ 1501.00
Clearly bookmakers are not concerned that either will be relevant to the situation by the time the season ends.
One player who appears to be stepping up is:
RaeQuan Battle: (’21/'22, *PTS: 8.5, TRB: 2.4, AST: 0.8, FG%: 45.7%)
(’22/'23, *PTS: 16.0, TRB: 5.5, AST: 1.0, FG%: 35.5%)
He is joined by:
Jubrile Belo: (’21/'22, *PTS: 12.8, TRB: 6.7, AST: 1.1, FG%: 57.9%)
(’22/’23, *PTS: 7.5, TRB: 4.5, AST: 1.5, FG%: 44.4%)
The Bobcats have retained a large portion of their playing roster and that should offer them some stability. Unfortunately, that does not apply to their top scorers. They lost 2 of the only 3 who had double-figures for last season. They currently have one player making double-figures.
Granted, they have cause for some optimism with the arrival of:
Darius Brown II: (’22/'23, *PTS: 8.0, TRB: 3.5, AST: 3.0, FG%: 38.5%)
But those numbers are hardly likely to set pulses racing. He seems to be one of the only options they will have for creating chances and assists. Robert Ford III may be able to provide support there also.
Even with the issues we’ve highlighted, we still think that NCAA March Madness betting odds of @ 1501.00 are extraordinarily pessimistic for a team that made the postseason tournament the year before.
We shall see.
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