2023 NCAA Tournament: Projecting the Top 16 Seeds Two Weeks Before Selection Sunday

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With only two weeks to go before Selection Sunday, many low and mid-major conferences have wrapped up their regular seasons and are entering conference tournaments. For the high-major teams, they’ll be entering theirs next week. Either way, March Madness is upon us. Last week, the committee released its top 16 teams. With an extra week of games behind us, let’s assign the top 16 seeds based on overall resumes. This week, a few teams, including Creighton and Virginia played themselves off of the four-line, but could easily return with a solid showing in their conference tournaments.

16. Miami Hurricanes, ACC

The Miami Hurricanes feel like they fall somewhere between the worst great team and the best good team in the country. They have an incredible backcourt trio of veteran Isaiah Wong, Kansas State transfer Nijel Pack, and fifth-year senior Jordan Miller, but struggle up front. They have wins over Providence, Virginia, and Duke but have lost to Florida State and Georgia Tech.

The Hurricanes made a surprise run to the Elite Eight last year before falling to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks. They returned their star guard Isaiah Wong, who is averaging 16.2 PPG this year. Jordan Miller’s breakout has been the X-Factor for this Miami team though, as he has improved from 10.0 PPG with a questionable jumper to a 15.1 PPG scorer, shooting 34.6% from three. The Canes have a top-15 offense in the country according to KenPom, but rank in the 120s in defense. They’re a dangerous team when their shots are falling, but they’re very dependent on shot variance in the tournament.

15. Indiana Hoosiers, Big Ten

Mike Woodson’s second year coaching at his alma mater has been the program’s best year in a decade. Trayce Jackson-Davis has established himself as a true college basketball superstar, averaging 20.1 points and 11.0 rebounds per game while shooting 57.2% from the field while Jalen Hood-Schifino has become one of the top freshmen in the country. Alongside their two stars, the Hoosiers also have one of the top long-range shooters in the country in Miller Kopp (46.6% 3P%). Xavier Johnson has played just 11 games, but he may be returning soon for Indiana. With or without Johnson, the Hoosiers are a dangerous team who have proven they can beat anyone.

14. Saint Mary’s Gaels, WCC

The Gaels, despite their loss to Gonzaga this weekend, clinched the number one seed (and a triple bye) in the West Coast Conference Tournament. The only blemishes on Saint Mary’s resume are early season losses to Colorado State and Washington, as well as a loss to LMU on Feb. 9. Their guard duo of Logan Johnson and Aidan Mahaney have been electric, averaging over 14 PPG apiece. Alex Ducas has shot 41.6% from three on 6.1 attempts per game and Kyle Bowen shoots 40.0% on 2.6 attempts. They’re a well-rounded team who shoots the three as well as anyone. They also have the 7th best defense in the country according to KenPom. Typically we hear about 3-and-D players, but the Gaels are a 3-and-D team. They’ll be a nuisance for whoever draws them in the tournament, whether or not they win the WCC.

13. Tennessee Volunteers, SEC

Sporting the number one defense in the country, the Tennessee Volunteers have an interesting resume and outlook in March. They are 4th in the SEC with no real opportunity to jump Kentucky, who have beaten the Volunteers twice. The Vols own huge wins over Kansas and Alabama, two of the top-three teams in the country, but have also lost to Colorado and Vanderbilt. They hold six Quad-1 wins but have just a 3-3 record against Quad-2 teams. They rank 1st in KenPom and Bart Torvik defense, but 62nd and 60th in offense. With a couple of wins in the SEC Tournament, Tennessee is a lock for a top-three seed.

12. Kansas State Wildcats, Big 12

Jerome Tang will win the NCAA Coach of the Year in his first year as a Head Coach. His Kansas State Wildcats entered the season as the last-place team in the Big 12. They are now the 11th-ranked team in the AP Poll and hold wins over Kansas, Texas, and Baylor. They had a weak out-of-conference schedule that had many questioning their legitimacy, but they continue to impress. They rank 19th in KenPom, 17th in the NET, and are 9-6 in Quad-1 games. The only teams in the country with more Quad-1 wins are Kansas, Baylor, and Texas, who are also the only teams ahead of Kansas St. in the Big 12 standings.

Keyontae Johnson is the ultimate feel-good story, averaging 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in his senior season. After losing last year’s leading scorer Nijel Pack to Miami, 5’7 guard Markquis Nowell has replaced him with 17.0 points and 7.6 assists per game with a 55.8% TS%. Alongside their two stars, Nae’Qwan Tomlin and Desi Sills have been spectacular role players, anchoring a defense that grades out among the best in the country.

11. Connecticut Huskies, Big East

The Huskies picked up a big win over Providence last week while the Blue Jays lost one to Marquette, so they get the slight edge here despite Creigton’s hot stretch. The Huskies grade out incredibly in the analytics department, placing 7th in the NET Rankings and 5th in KenPom. They have 6 quad wins, including huge non-conference wins over Alabama and Iowa State. On the flip side, the Huskies have a Quad-3 loss to St. John’s at home in the midst of a 1-5 stretch.

The big-little duo of Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins has been huge for the Huskies while seven-footer Donovan Clingan, tertiary scorer Tristen Newton, and sharpshooter Alex Karaban round out a balanced roster. In his junior year, Sanogo is averaging 16.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting an efficient 58.8% from the field and 38.1% from distance and has a shot to win the Big East player of the year. The Huskies are a scary tournament team with their elite three-point shooting built around their top-tier big men.

10. Gonzaga Bulldogs, WCC

Gonzaga avenged their overtime loss to St. Mary’s with a wire-to-wire victory over the Gaels in Spokane on Saturday night. They’re the 2-seed in the Conference Tournament due to their home loss to LMU and lower NET rating than St. Mary’s. They rank 10th in KenPom, 9th in the NET, but have just five Quad-1 wins. They returned Drew Timme and Julian Strawther from last year who have both had great seasons. Timme has had the best season of his college career, putting up 21.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on incredible efficiency. The Bulldogs have had somewhat of a down year, but they’re still dangerous and could end up as a 2-seed if they win their conference tournament.

9. Texas Longhorns, Big 12

The Longhorns have had an up-and-down season that has seen wins over Gonzaga, Baylor, and Kansas State, but also a domestic violence scandal that lost them their head coach. Under interim head coach Rodney Terry, Texas is 14-6 and is 2nd in the Big 12. Point guard Marcus Carr opened the year as a Wooden Award candidate and has not disappointed. He’s played all 27 games, averaging 16.8 points and 4.1 assists per game on good efficiency.

Behind Carr, Texas has a plethora of solid role players. New Mexico State transfer Sir’Jabari Rice is the frontrunner for Big-12 sixth man of the year, averaging 12.1 PPG as the team’s 2nd leading scorer. Forwards Timmy Allen, Dylan Disu, and Brock Cunningham have all made solid contributions as well. If Iowa State transfer Tyrese Hunter can get into a groove, the Longhorns will be legitimate contenders to win the national championship.

8. Baylor Bears, Big 12

Baylor’s guard trio of Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, and LJ Cryer make up perhaps the best backcourt in the country. George, a 6’4 freshman combo guard and top-5 NBA draft prospect, is averaging 16.3 PPG while shooting 43.3% from the field and 35.6% from deep. Flagler, the 6th man of the 2021 championship team, has elevated his game to a star level, averaging 15.5 points and 4.8 assists per game while shooting 40.0% from three on 6.3 attempts per game. Cryer, one of the best shooters in the country, is averaging 14.7 PPG on 49.6%/42.9%/89.1% shooting splits, just a few ticks shy of a 50/40/90 season.

The Bears are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country and have all the makings of a national title contender. The one concern for Baylor is its defensive inefficiency. They give up some size to other Big 12 teams, starting three guards and two forwards. They rank 84th in KenPom defense and 81st in Bart Torvik’s defensive efficiency. But they rank 2nd in offensive efficiency in both metrics. The Bears surely have the potential to win the national championship, but they’ll need to step it up a little bit defensively.

7. Arizona Wildcats, Pac-12

Tommy Lloyd’s Arizona Wildcats were perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2021-22 season as Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko led them to a one-seed despite middling preseason expectations. In the offseason, they lost Mathurin, Koloko, and starting guard Dalen Terry to the NBA Draft. Despite those losses, including a top 10 NBA Draft pick in Mathurin, Arizona is a title contender once again in 2023.

Azoulis Tubelis and Oumar Ballo have each had breakout years and have established themselves as one of the nation’s top frontcourts. Texas graduate transfer Courtney Ramey has gelled perfectly while Kerr Kriisa and Pelle Larsson have steadily improved throughout their careers. This year, Tubelis is a contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Despite their loss to Arizona State on Saturday, the Wildcats could still earn a one-seed with some help and a couple of wins over UCLA in the coming weeks.

6. Marquette Golden Eagles, Big East

Before the season, Marquette was picked 9th in the Big East Poll. They lost their leading scorer Justin Lewis to the NBA and didn’t pick up any big-name transfers. Instead, a few months later, Shaka Smart’s Golden Eagles have clinched at least a share of the Big East regular season title and are 10th in the AP Poll. Behind huge breakout years from some of last year’s role players, the Golden Eagles have built from within.

They hold five Quad-1 wins and zero Quad-4 losses, including huge wins against Baylor, Creighton, Xavier, and Providence. They rank 3rd in KenPom offensive efficiency and average 80.8 PPG. Tyler Kolek (12.3 PPG, 7.8 APG) and Kam Jones (15.2 PPG, 37.1% 3P%) complement each other perfectly in the backcourt while Oso Ighodoro (11.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG) and Olivier-Maxence Prosper (12.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG) make up one of the conference’s top frontcourts. The Golden Eagles picked up another huge ranked win over Creighton in Omaha this week, and still have an outside shot at a one-seed.

5. Purdue Boilermakers, Big Ten

The Boilermakers suffered another loss to Indiana this weekend, their fourth loss in six games. In that stretch, Purdue not only lost the number one overall seed but is now a projected 2-seed with plenty of work to do to make it back to the one-line. Zach Edey is undoubtedly the National Player of the Year, averaging 22.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in his junior season. Flanking Edey on the perimeter is a collection of young guards including freshmen Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith. The Boilermakers have all the makings of a national title contender. They have the best player in the country, shoot well from distance, and have a top-20 defense according to both KenPom and Bart Torvik.

4. UCLA Bruins, Pac-12

The Bruins have been possibly the steadiest team in the country this season. They suffered early-season losses to Baylor and Illinois, but are 22-2 in their last 24 games. They are 7-4 in Quad-1 games and 18-0 against Quads 2-4. The loss of Johnny Juzang to the NBA Draft has felt seamless as Jamie Jaquez has taken a step forward. In his senior season, he’s averaging 17.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG. Jaylen Clark has stepped up from spot starter to #2 option, while Tyger Campbell has been steady as ever at the point guard position. Freshmen Adem Bona and Amari Bailey have gelled perfectly, especially as Bailey has continued to come into his own in the college game.

UCLA has already clinched the Pac-12 regular season title for the first time in Mick Cronin’s tenure. Even a loss to Arizona this weekend wouldn’t cost them the top seed in the conference tournament. The Bruins still have plenty of tournament experience from their Final Four run in 2020-21 and have supplemented that with elite freshman talent. They’re poised to make a run once again this year and are certainly one of the favorites to win it all.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide, SEC

These top three teams have separated themselves from the pack and any of the three could be the top overall seed. Alabama has seen some negative media attention recently after Brandon Miller‘s alleged involvement in Darius Miles’ murder case. Solely on the court, the Crimson Tide have had a dream season. Miller, a top-10 recruit in last year’s class, is the runaway favorite for Freshman of the Year. As just a freshman, Miller is averaging 19.7 PPG and 8.0 RPG on 62.3% true shooting while attempting over seven threes per game. He’s not just the best freshman in the country, he’s among the best players.

Alongside Miller, Mark Sears, Noah Clowney and Charles Bediako have been steady hands while Jahvon Quinerly has accepted a smaller role as the sixth man. Quinerly averaged 13.8 PPG last year and is definitely this team’s X-Factor. When he plays well, Alabama feels borderline unbeatable. If they can silence the noise, Alabama has a great chance to win their first National Championship.

2. Kansas Jayhawks, Big 12

I’m sure you’ve heard this stat all year: the Jayhawks have lost 75% of last year’s scoring from their National Championship team, but are still arguably the best team in the country. They lost two first-round picks in Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun as well as sixth man Remy Martin and starting big David McCormack. Despite all their losses, the Jayhawks are right back atop the Big 12 in 2023. Looking at simply who they’ve beaten, Kansas has the most impressive resume in the country. They have 15 Quad-1 wins, five more than 2nd-best Texas and Baylor. They have wins over Duke, Indiana, Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, and Texas, and are 4-0 against AP Top-10 opponents.

Jalen Wilson has not just replaced Agbaji, he’s been better. He’s averaging 19.6 points and 8.4 rebounds per game while improving his volume and efficiency from beyond the arc. Gradey Dick is one of the best freshmen in the country, averaging 14.9 PPG on 59.4% TS%. KJ Adams Jr. played just 178 total minutes last season but has started all 29 games while averaging 10.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this year. Texas Tech transfer Kevin McCullar Jr. (11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG) and veteran guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (8.5 PPG, 6.3 APG) round out an exceptional starting five. It’s tough to go back-to-back but if anyone can do it, it’s these Kansas Jayhawks.

1. Houston Cougars, AAC

This year’s Houston team has been compared to the Gonzaga teams of years past due to their weak conference schedule. The comparisons may seem fair at first, but this Houston team is different. They have an elite, experienced coach in Kelvin Sampson, an elite, experienced lead guard in Marcus Sasser, and an elite freshman in Jarace Walker. The Cougars have made the Elite Eight in each of the past two years, including a Final Four appearance in 2021.

Outside of one loss to Temple, their resume is spotless. They have wins over Saint Mary’s and Virginia while their only other loss came in a close game to Alabama when they shot just 3-13 from distance. Their resume may not look incredible due to their lack of Quad-1 victories, but the metrics love them. They rank #1 in the NET and KenPom and are the only team to rank within the top 10 in both KenPom’s offensive and defensive efficiency. They’re also the odds-on favorite to win the National Championship.

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James Valentinas is a 17-year-old Cubs, Knicks, and Bears fan who loves to write about his favorite teams.