Here are what we consider to be the best NCAA teams from states U - W
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.
@ 751.00 - @ 401.00
4 seasons in a row as the best team in the Beehive State of the BYU Cougars. We’ve seen their NCAA March Madness betting odds shorten from @ 751.00 to @ 401.00. But the betting markets still don’t give them too much chance of making the NCAA postseason playoffs. They are currently 6th of 10 in the West Coast Conference with a record of 10-5. But we do see some potential.
Especially with the likes of:
Rudi Williams (*PTS: 14.7, TRB: 4.2, AST: 3.2, FG%: 50.9%)
2022/’23 season so far:
(*PTS: 13.7, TRB: 2.6, AST: 3.0, FG%: 46.6%)
Not quite as impressive as last season at this juncture but he remains their top scorer and player with the most minutes on the court. Some backup comes in the form of:
Fousseyni Traore (*PTS: 9.5, TRB: 8.5, AST: 0.9, FG%: 58.7%)
2022/’23 season so far:
(*PTS: 13.1, TRB: 8.4, AST: 1.4, FG%: 60.2%)
Traore has improved in almost every stat. He scores reasonably consistently, is better-than-solid at collating rebounds and his field goal conversion rate remains particularly impressive.
At the time of writing, the Utah Valley Wolverines are 2nd in the Western Athletic Conference with 9-4 so they might upset our prediction. This would be nothing new for us.
Time will tell. Early days yet…
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As the only Division 1 NCAA basketball team from Vermont, the Burlington team has zero ‘in-state’ competition. So this part was easy.
This lack of local teams to play against hasn’t dampened the skills of the UVM team. They again find themselves the favourite to take the America East Conference.
Dylan Penn (*PTS: 16.6, TRB: 4.2, AST: 5.0, FG%: 49.6%)
Now those are numbers that any player can be proud of. A rock-solid set of stats that will really drive the Catamounts to higher things with growth and support from teammates. The likes of:
Finn Sullivan (*PTS: 7.2, TRB: 3.3, AST: 2.0, FG%: 41.5%)
Aaron Deloney (*PTS: 7.5, TRB: 1.3, AST: 1.1, FG%: 48.1%) (off just 15.1 minutes per game)
…need to step up. Deloney is already doing so. 32 points from 31 minutes in game one! A 78.6% success rate and 5 assists to boot! Impressive.
Having lost some serious talent to graduation and transfers, we are not so convinced of the Catamount’s chances of topping the AEC as some seem to be. But that’s for another article. They are currently mid-table with a 6-8 record and only 2 wins at home.
And you’d struggle to find anywhere to place a bet on them to go all the way and win March Madness.
But why would you want to do that anyway?
If you’ve got money to burn, better to give it to a local charity…
AP ranking: 13
Coaches’ ranking: 12
@ 61.00 - @ 23.00
The Virginia Cavaliers are up against some pretty stiff competition in the ACC. They have several ‘state-best’ teams to contend with. But they just happen to be one themselves. Virginia tech had the better team last season but the Cavaliers are welcoming back some serious talent.
They have some key players like:
Jayden Gardner: (*PTS: 15.3, TRB: 6.4, AST: 1.4, FG%: 50.1%)
Kihei Clarke: (*PTS: 11.2, TRB: 2.6, AST: 5.5, FG%: 40%)
They will need to shine if they are to progress.
The other teams in the state actually might have easier rides to the NCAA March Madness but the Cavaliers are just going to have to do it the hard way.
Having said that, their NCAA March Madness betting odds have shortened from @ 61.00 to @ 23.00 and they are ranked highly in both the AP and coaches’ polls.
At the time of writing, their record is 8-2 and they find themselves 6th in the Atlantic Coast Conference. One place below Virginia Tech. Although Tech has played 3 more games at this point.
AP ranking: 10
Coaches’ ranking: 11
@ 9.00 - @ 9.50 - @ 21.00
Gonzaga have dropped in the AP and coaches rankings from #2 at the start of the season. Their NCAA March Madness betting odds have lengthened accordingly. But we still make them the best team in Washington State.
We would not be so confident, were it not for the fact that they have:
Drew Timme: (*PTS: 22.1, TRB: 8.3, AST: 3.3, FG%: 63.7%)
A sensational conversion rate for field goals along with being Gonzaga’s highest scorer and rebound-taker. It's no wonder that Time gets heavy minutes for the team. This will be his last year as a college player and he will surely find himself the object of much attention from NBA teams when the NBA Draft comes around.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are currently 2nd in the West Coast Conference with a record of 11-3.
They are 7-0 at home and are on a winning streak of 6 games.
The only real concern is that the Bulldogs have only 3 players who score in double-figures. And none that are true playmakers. Nolan Hickman can be relied upon for 3.9 assists per game, then it’s Timme with 3.3, and Bolton with 2.7. After that, there’s a really big drop-off in providers. We’re not sure it’s enough to go deep into the NCAA March Madness finals, but feel they will push to top the conference nonetheless. We shall see.
Nobody thinks of the Georgetown Hoyas as a team that will challenge particularly hard this season. Their NCAA March Madness betting odds of @ 501.00
Currently 10th of 11 in the Big East, with a record of 5-8. Even these odds seem somewhat generous. Even so, they almost certainly remain the best team in Washington D.C.
They do have some talent, namely:
Primo Spears: (*PTS: 17.7, TRB: 3.5, AST: 4.5, FG%: 44.8%)
He’s about their only reliable player from the free-throw line and is fairly consistent across the board. And he’s not alone in performing relatively well.
Qudus Wahab: (*PTS: 11.2, TRB: 7.8, AST: 0.1, FG%: 49.0%
Wahab gets decent points and is also the Hoyas’ best collector of rebounds.
Here again, we seem to have a team that lacks depth in its playmakers. After Primo Spears and Brandon Murray, the drop-off in assists is noticeable. And for Spears to be the most consistent at converting field goals with only 44.8% does not bode overly well.
The Hoyas have not won back-to-back games since their first 2 games of the season. Currently, they’re on a 3-game losing streak.
An uphill challenge from here for sure
West Virginia Mountaineers
AP ranking: 24
Coaches’ ranking: 24
@ 501.00 - @ 81.00
With a 10-2 record, you might be forgiven for expecting the West Virginia Mountaineers to be a little higher than 6th in the Big 12. But it really is a tough conference.
Still, the Mountaineers are making a decent fist of it. Despite bizarrely long odds of them taking the NCAA March Madness title of @ 501.00 when the season started. Those betting odds have at least shortened to @ 81.00 at the time of writing.
Marshall Thundering Herd are ripping it up in the Sun Belt Conference and we almost picked them here. But that would have been disingenuous. We don’t feel they’re the better team overall. But their 10-2 puts them top of Sun Belt and only gets 6th for the Mountaineers!
Some of the talent that the Mountaineers have at their disposal includes their highest scorer:
Erik Stevenson: (*PTS: 14.5, TRB: 3.1, AST: 2.5, FG%: 52.5%)
Solid stats. Nothing to set the world on fire. But then, he’s not alone:
Tre Mitchell: (*PTS: 12.8, TRB: 4.7, AST: 1.9, FG%: 54.3%)
More solidity. More decent field goal conversion rates
West Virginia’s more pertinent issues, as with many of the teams on this list, is in finding playmakers. With 3.3 apiece, Toussaint and Johnson are the best providers. Then it’s Stevenson with just 2.5. It’s hard to see any team going all the way to the end of this journey without the players creating more chances for each other.
They’ve got a free-throw specialist in Emmitt Matthews Jr. Currently hitting 90.5% of the ones he takes and adding 10.8 per game in total. He gets the heaviest minutes of anyone here with 30.6
Overall we feel that the Mountaineers should push a lot of teams hard. But in the Big 12, they’re going to have to up their collective games if they’re going to get any further this season.
AP ranking: 15
Coaches’ ranking: 15
@ 201.00 - @ 151.00
Currently with a record of 9-2, the Badgers are in 2nd place in the Big Ten Conference. Behind the unstoppable Purdue.
State rivals Marquette are having a tougher time in Big East, currently in 4th with a 10-4 record.
Ranked 15th by both the AP and coaches’ polls, the Badger’s NCAA March Madness betting odds might seem a touch long @ 151.00 but we can probably put that down to perky Purdue. Now ranked number 1 themselves.
The Badgers are not lacking in talent. With players like:
Tyler Wahl: (*PTS: 14.5, TRB: 6.9, AST: 2.0, FG%: 42.2%)
Solid scoring, albeit not at a great rate of conversion. Backed up by decent rebounds.
Chucky Hepburn: (*PTS: 12.0, TRB: 3.6, AST: 2.7, FG%: 39.0%)
Wisconsin’s second-highest scorer has an even worse rate of converting field goals and we’re beginning to wonder about having chosen them.
Steven Crowl is the only player providing even mediocre assists with 3.5 in over 30 minutes of each game. That is likely to be the Badger’s downfall, we feel. There are simply not enough playmakers on the side and only 4 players that are scoring in double-figures to compensate.
The more we look, the more generous @ 151.00 starts to look. With only one team able to progress from the Big Ten, Wisconsin are really up against it.
Unless they drag some sensational performances out of some middle-of-the-road players.
Competition to be considered the best Division 1 NCAA team in Wyoming is not exactly fierce. In fact, the Cowboys are the only ones in the race. Needless to say, they make the list here. And that’s about all they’ll make. The betting markets give them no chance of making the NCAA March Madness postseason tournament and who are we to argue?
Their roster contains just 2 players who score in double figures. The most prolific being:
Noah Reynolds: (*PTS: 14.7, TRB: 2.4, AST: 2.0, FG%: 54.5%)
There are worse records out there than that. A decent conversion rate for field goals and solid points overall.
Hunter Maldonado: (*PTS: 12.2, TRB: 4.2, AST: 3.6, FG%: 42.3%)
Maldonado is almost decent. Not bad at scoring points. He only gets a mention because, with 3.6 assists per game, he is the Cowboys’ best playmaker.
This is not a glowing endorsement of their talents, frankly
Currently dead last in the Mountain West Conference, the meagre accolade of making it onto this list might be the only one the Cowboys can hope to get this season. Oh well.
Favourite NBA moments
Well, there you have it. That's more hours of our lives than we'd care to contemplate that we’re not getting back. And the best part is, the stats from the ones we did first are now wicked out-of-date and we'll have to amend them. This might turn into something akin to painting the Forth Bridge (when they get done, they go right back to the start because it took so long that it's started deteriorating at the other end)
Actually, we’ve learned an awful lot.
Some of the stories that the article unearthed for us were genuinely interesting and unusual.
One thing is for certain, we’ve never been more hyped for college basketball. Just 4 more months of poring over the stats until March Madness ensues!
Bring it on.
*M = minutes
PTS = points
TRB = total rebounds
AST = assists
FG% = field goal percentage