Busting Brackets

NCAA Basketball: Ranking all 358 D-I programs for 2021-22 season

Oct 15, 2021; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks as his jersey is pulled by forward Theo John (12) during Duke Countdown to Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2021; Durham, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) dunks as his jersey is pulled by forward Theo John (12) during Duke Countdown to Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /
14 of 23
NCAA Basketball Warith Alatishe Oregon State Beavers (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
NCAA Basketball Warith Alatishe Oregon State Beavers (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

80. South Carolina Gamecocks – Last Season Ranking: 32

Conference: SEC

Just when you count the Gamecocks out, they rise and have a fantastic season. Frank Martin has not gotten South Carolina anywhere close to the tournament since the surprise run a handful of years ago now. Coach Martin is one of the most passionate coaches in the game. He loves his players like his own children, and they are always going to play hard for him.

The problem lies in the talent. The Gamecocks were overmatched last year, especially on the defensive end. South Carolina couldn’t defend anyone last year as they gave up around 80 points per game. South Carolina closed the year losing 13 of their last 16 games and they didn’t keep too many games close in that span. The offense was average, but they didn’t shoot high percentages from the floor. The Gamecocks don’t have much coming back this year and the transfers they did get don’t really move the needle much as far as scoring goes.

South Carolina looks like a bottom-tier team in the SEC this year. Jermaine Couisnard is likely going to lead this team on the floor every night. He is the most experienced player remaining on the roster as he has played in Martin’s system for the last three seasons. He is going to have to play well for the Gamecocks to have a chance most nights.

79. Georgetown Hoyas – Last Season Ranking: 108

Conference: Big East

The Hoyas made a surprise run in the Big East tournament and won, earning head coach Patrick Ewing his first appearance in the NCAA tournament. They were a trendy upset pick because of a favorable matchup, and they were hot at the right time. This season, however, the Hoyas have a very young team and no proven depth.

It is going to be a struggle again for Coach Ewing as his top players and three out of five starters, plus the sixth man are no longer on campus. The NCAA tournament run likely bought Ewing some more time at his alma mater but with a few more bad seasons that could be it. Dante Harris is due for a breakout season for the Hoyas.

78. Missouri Tigers – Last Season Ranking: 82

Conference: SEC

The Tigers really surprised me last year when they made a run to the NCAA tournament. I did not expect them to be good at all. Missouri didn’t do anything overly well, but they were one of the oldest teams in the entire country last year and they just found a way to win games. There is always something to be said for experience. This year they have a lot of freshmen and they lost their four top scorers.

However, head coach Cuonzo Martin was able to offset that by going to the transfer portal and securing the commitment of two former conference freshman of the year award winners, and one player with a tremendous amount of upside when given the chance to shine. Missouri is likely going to finish middle-of-the-pack in the SEC again but won’t make the tournament there are just too many wild cards and questions about the depth.

Amari Davis was one of the best scorers in the Horizon League with Green Bay. He now transfers to a Tiger program that is desperate for an Alpha on offense. Davis can take over games.

77. Boise State Broncos – Last Season Ranking: 79

Conference: Mountain West

The Broncos were all ready to make an NCAA tournament appearance last year, as they had a tremendous roster on paper. Boise State started out the season 14-2 before faltering at the end of the year and missing the tournament altogether. Boise State had the second-best offense and the third-best defense in the conference last year. Head coach Leon Rice is always going to have his team competitive even though he may be going through a slight rebuild.

The Broncos did lose one of the best players in their history this year, but they are still going to be pretty good. It isn’t likely that they qualify for the NCAA tournament. Boise State will not do anything special on offense or defense but will be good enough to likely finish in the top 75 of both categories. Boise State finds itself in the middle of the pack. Abu Kigab is the leader of the team and could end up as one of the better players in the league.

76. Penn State Nittany Lions – Last Season Ranking: 89

Conference: Big Ten

Micah Shrewsberry is the new coach for Penn State, and he can turn this program around quickly. The Nittany Lions are hard to predict this year as they have some new pieces that will need to gel quickly with the existing players to reach their full potential. The Nittany Lions are another team in the Big Ten that has a high ceiling as they have a ton of talent on this roster. They are also extremely hard to project because with so many new pieces it’s tough to say how they will all come together, how will they handle adversity, and who is going to get the ball in crunch time.

Penn State will finish in the bottom four of the league but is trending up. Seth Lundy returns, and he has the potential to be a huge breakout star if he starts taking better shots. He is a wing who can fill it up if he gets going.

75. Texas A&M Aggies – Last Season Ranking: 76

Conference: SEC

Will head coach Buzz Williams ever turn Texas A&M back into a winner?  It’s hard to say as heading into year three and the Aggies are about the same as they were when he took the program over. Texas A&M had one of the worst offenses in the country a season ago. They were dreadful from the three-point line and had terrible efficiency numbers across the board. The defense was okay except for the fact that the Aggies could not protect the rim as they only blocked a little over one shot per game as a team.

The Aggies lost 3 of their 5 starters including their leading scorer in the offseason. Coach Williams needed to fix the offense and quickly, so he went out and was able to secure some transfers who are proven scorers. How they will all fit in with what the Aggies are trying to do on offense remains to be seen. Texas A&M doesn’t project to be very good again and is likely a bottom-tier SEC team. Tyrece Radford, who was turning into a star in the ACC, is ready to take over where he left off last year and is going to lead this team in a lot of categories.

74. UAB Blazers – Last Season Ranking: 158

Conference: Conference USA

The Blazers are a very interesting team as they won 22 games a season ago and had one of the best defenses in the entire country last year and no one talked about them. That seems to always happen with UAB they always have quietly great seasons. The reason is that they don’t do anything flashy. Head coach Andy Kennedy wants his team to drive the lane and as result, they don’t shoot many threes at all.

The Blazers play at a good pace on offense and then slow you way down of the defensive end and force teams to play slow. UAB never fouls, they force a ton of turnovers and they protect the rim averaging just over 4 blocks per game. The Blazers get after it on the defensive end and have most of the team back from the 22-win team a season ago.

Michael Ertel is the go-to guy on offense and defense for the Blazers. UAB is likely going to finish in the top half of the league again.

73. TCU Horned Frogs – Last Season Ranking: 83

Conference: Big 12

Jamie Dixon won 20 games three seasons in a row at TCU, and he did get the Horned Frogs back to the tournament. The last couple of seasons have been a little lean but they have also been on the younger side. In true coach Dixon style his teams are never going to be bad for long and I might be in the minority on this one, but this year’s team is set up success, especially if their transfers live up to their lofty expectations. TCU was not efficient on offense last year at all, but they did play slow and they did play defense which are both signatures of a Dixon-led team.

This year the Horned Frogs have almost a new roster and this one is made up of transfers who were efficient at their previous schools. Mike Miles Jr. had a fantastic freshman year and he will be an all-conference player in the Big 12.

72. Wisconsin Badgers – Last Season Ranking: 8

Conference: Big Ten

The Badgers had an average age of 24 years old last season. They were one of the oldest and experienced teams in the country. This year the average age of Wisconsin is a shade over 19 years of age. They are one of the least experienced teams in the country. That is a factor as a lot of teams in the Big Ten are experienced and the Badgers don’t have much in the way of notable experience in the league either. Wisconsin likes to shoot threes and they do make a lot of them.

They play fantastic defense and force the offense to play extremely slow. The less experience and proven offensive players that you have the more bought in they are going to have to be on defense. If they want to be successful, they are going to need to be good on defense this year.

Brad Davison returns to be the leader of the offense. Davison is a good shooter, but he has never had to lead the offense he has always been an emotional floor leader but on offense, he has never been the first option. It may take a bit for Davidson to completely transition into the role.

71. Oregon State Beavers – Last Season Ranking: 73

Conference: Pac 12

Quickly raise your hand if you had Oregon State making a surprise run to win the Pac 12 tournament and then taking it a step further and making a surprise run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA basketball tournament. That’s right, the Beavers, were one win away from the Final four a season ago. This year the Beavers have a good portion of their roster back but still look to be a middle-of-the-pack Pac 12 team.

One thing that sets the Beavers apart from the rest of the country is that Oregon State is going to have three seven-footers in their rotation, and two may start. Most teams are lucky if they have one such player, but the Beavers have three. Head coach Wayne Tinkle doesn’t play fast, and his team doesn’t shoot all that many threes but they move the ball to get the best shot possible.

It was a perfect storm for Oregon State last year, and it is not likely they are going to replicate this year, but coach Tinkle is doing a fantastic job with the Beavers and is going to keep them competitive. Jarod Lucas returns after his breakout March. He is one of the best free throw shooters in the country and is going to lead Oregon State in all offensive categories.