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The 2022-2023 Men’s College Basketball season has been an unpredictable ride to this point. Five different teams have had the number one spot in the AP and Coaches Poll this season and none of them have lasted longer than a month consecutively. With this type of movement in the polls all season, it can only lead to one thing – the potential for the month of March to be a special one.
In most years the polls would have had teams like North Carolina, Duke and Kentucky somewhere near the top. As of the polls that were released on February 20th, none of them were even ranked, and North Carolina (fresh off making the championship game a season ago) is in danger of missing the entire field of 68 altogether.
The question now is: who are the teams that the best chance to be cutting down the nets in Houston on April 3rd?
The hometown Cougars have been at the top of the polls on three different occasions and sit atop them right now. Led by Senior Guard Marcus Sasser, the Cougars are just as talented as they are deep. Houston consistently uses an eight to nine-man rotation and have six of those players average over six points per game. But what makes this team special is their defense. They allow a nation best 55.6 points per game and have allowed 66 or more points only four times this season.
The defending national champions are about to win another regular season conference championship in a league that could see as many at nine teams in the tournament field this season. Because of that, Kansas has been battle tested and will be prepared for March. All of the Jayhawks losses this season (five of them to be exact) are to teams that are currently ranked in the top 25.
Led by the potential Wooden Award winner for National Player of the Year in Center Zach Edey, head coach Matt Painter’s group is built to win the entire tournament. Edey provides everything down low, averaging 22.1 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Having such a dominant big man allows Purdue chances to beat you from downtown. The Boilermakers have four players who have knocked down 28 or more three pointers and have hit 199 of them on the season.
Other Teams to Watch:
Alabama Crimson Tide- The Nation’s current number two team in the country has played some outstanding basketball all season. But with a potential legal situation involving star Forward Brandon Miller (a current projected top-five NBA Draft selection in June), the Crimson Tide might not be at full strength going in the tournament. But as long as he’s playing, Alabama can beat just about anyone.
UCLA Bruins- Head Coach Mick Cronin was upset that his Bruins weren’t a projected number one seed in the first rankings preview. Based on what his team has done this season, he was a very good argument. UCLA has only lost to three teams ranked in the top 25 and a USC team that will be a high seed in March. They win games pretty handily as they beat teams by an average of 14.7 points per game, while holding the opposition to 59.4 points per game.