The college basketball season is almost into conference play, giving us time to look at who teams are. With the NCAA Tournament still three months away, this is my best guess on 50 teams that will make it come March.
This is a guess of what teams will look like at the end of the year, not what they look like now. Some good examples of this are Iowa State and Depaul. So, here are the first 10 teams that will make the 2022 NCAA Tournament. The list is not in order of best to worst, it’s a prediction of 50 teams that will make the tournament.
50. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State came out of the gates slow to start the year. There was no question that the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, EJ Liddell, was going to be the leader of this team. After the first couple of games, one big problem for Ohio State was backcourt production. Guards Jamari Wheeler, Meechie Johnson, and Malaki Branham started the season roughly. As of late, the production of the backcourt is visible. This is a good sign for Ohio State going into conference play. This team will catch stride and make the tournament.
49. Florida State Seminoles
Leonard Hamilton has been bringing in a lot of length into the program. This season, the Seminoles are skillful with a ton of length. Florida State has put out five different starting lineups in their 10 games. They have started the season 6-4. Caleb Mills is Florida State’s leading scorer, averaging 12.2 PPG along with 3.0 APG.
The ACC is struggling to start the year, allowing for a third-best team to emerge out of the conference. As we get into ACC conference play, the Seminoles will be in good shape to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid.
48. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
St. Bonaventure returns every one of importance from a season ago. This gives them the upper hand in the Atlantic 10 race. The Bonnies sit at 8-2 on the year, still looking like the favorites to come out of the conference. Teams like Davidson, Dayton, and St. Louis have all shown spurts during their non-conference schedules. The one thing that carries St Bonaventure over the rest is the amount of experience.
47. Colorado State Rams
Colorado State is one of two teams in the Mountain West that will make the tournament. There is potential for this conference to move up to a three-bid league – but time will tell. The Rams sit at 10-0 to start the year, also being one of the top mid-majors in the country. Being tied into one of the best teams, David Roddy and Isaiah Stevens are two of the best mid-major players, outside of Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren.
With wins against Creighton, Mississippi State, and St Mary’s, Colorado St will make the tournament with ease playing the way they are.
46. Auburn Tigers
The SEC is one of the best conferences in basketball talent-wise. Auburn has a lot of that talent in freshman Jabari Smith, and Georgia transfer, K.D. Johnson. Both guys play with a lot of toughness, which will be necessary when facing teams in the SEC. Smith leads the team in scoring, averaging nearly 17 PPG and 7 RPG.
The Tigers have a top-20 offense and defense in KenPom, as well as averaging 7.3 blocks per game. That is good for second in the country. I have six SEC teams making the tournament, Auburn is one of them.
45. Providence Friars
The Big East is the big storyline of the season thus far. Ed Cooley has this Friar team at 10-0, led by senior big man Nate Watson. The fifth-year senior is averaging 15.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG, while three over Friars are averaging double figures. As much fun as it is to watch Nate Watson down low, the duo of AJ Reeves and Aljami Durham is as fun in the backcourt.
Providence can finish top-4 in the Big East behind Villanova, UConn, and Seton Hall. Providence plays together and plays consistently. It makes them a dangerous tournament team this season.
44. Texas Tech Red Raiders
In Mark Adam’s first season as Texas Tech head coach, the Red Raiders have cracked the Top-25 in December. When we talk about Texas Tech, the one thing that sticks out about them is their depth. The majority of the roster gets playing time which allows for rest time for their top scorers, Terrence Shannon Jr and Kevin McCullar.
The Red Raiders’ defense also sticks out when you watch them play. Their defense ranks 7th in KenPom’s AdjD rating, and they play aggressively on offense. Texas Tech averages 15 offensive rebounds per game. A matchup on Saturday with Gonzaga will show where this team is.
I see Texas Tech finishing top four or five in the Big 12 this season. Making them a nice tournament team to face in the second round.
43. Indiana Hoosiers
The Big Ten will get the most bids into the NCAA Tournament, getting the Hoosiers into the tournament. Beating St John’s early on brought confidence to the Hoosiers. In the two other games against Syracuse and Wisconsin, Indiana lost those. Trayce Jackson-Davis leads Indiana, averaging 19.3 PPG, and 8.4 RPG.
Indiana has what it takes to compete, they have to put it together for 40 minutes. I see the Hoosiers sneaking into the tournament.
42. Oakland Golden Grizzlies
Oakland is my sleeper to win the Horizon League. It will be a one-bid league like always. The Grizzlies are sitting at 7-3 with two wins inside the Horizon already. Jamal Cain is having an outstanding season for Greg Kampe. He is averaging 21.2 PPG and 10.5 RPG as a fifth-year transfer out of Marquette. Oakland was picked 6th in the preseason poll for the conference but is playing well as of late.
41. BYU Cougars
The WCC is a three-bid league this year. BYU is one of those teams, led by senior Alex Barcello. He is an absolute flamethrower from deep, which then opens up things for others. BYU already has wins against Cleveland State, San Diego St, Oregon, and Utah State. A strong start to the year will have them finishing 2nd in the WCC behind Gonzaga.
This conference has improved making them once again a multi-bid league.
That wraps up the first segment of the 50 teams that will make the 2022 NCAA Tournament. A lot of variety in this first piece, mainly sticking with good teams that will finish in the top half of their conferences. Where did I go wrong with these first ten teams? Let me know!
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