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 /
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NCAA Basketball Tyson Etienne Wichita State Shockers (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
NCAA Basketball Tyson Etienne Wichita State Shockers (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

60. Washington State Cougars – Last Season Ranking: 103

Conference: Pac-12

The Cougars have a ton of excitement heading into the year and they are one of the teams who have a chance to outplay this ranking. They have a huge ceiling and are going to be in the middle of the pack in the Pac-12. Washington State also has a good chance to at least be in some bubble conversation at some point this season.

Head coach Kyle Smith is a great coach and with a full offseason, a virtually unchanged roster, and some key pieces in the backcourt the Cougars are going to be a very dangerous team. Washington State was not very efficient last year, but they had a young team that wasn’t used to playing together. This year that team is older and is going to understand their roles better and that is going to lead to taking better shots which should improve efficiency.

Noah Williams returns for Washington State and he is a good shooter and is going to get the ball almost every time down the floor for the Cougars.

59. Wichita State Shockers – Last Season Ranking: 130

Conference: American Athletic

I don’t know if anyone had Wichita State pegged as the regular season co-champion of the American last year. The Shockers also made the NCAA tournament last year which was extremely unexpected given the offseason they had. Wichita State was gutted last year by the Gregg Marshall scandal and the ensuing mass exodus of players.

It was a very weird year considering that Wichita State was one of the worst teams on offense when it came to overall efficiency as they only shot about 41% from the floor. This year the team has a lot of new faces but returns three of their top four players from last year’s tournament team. The Shockers are still likely to finish near the top of the American again.

58. North Carolina State Wolfpack – Last Season Ranking: 42

Conference: ACC

Head coach Kevin Keatts has done a great job cleaning up the mess left by former coach Mark Gottfried. The Wolfpack have been competitive and have had some good recruiting classes. This year NC State has some great key pieces returning and a lot of players who looked great last year are going to have their roles expanded. Coach Keatts doesn’t have his teams take a ton of threes as they only averaged about 18 per game. The shots they did take from deep they made and shot 36% from deep overall. The Wolfpack shot the ball at 47% from the floor overall which was in the top 50 nationally.

NC State is always going to be considered the other team from North Carolina given the overall success of the other two big schools in the state, but coach Keatts is trying to at least turn them into a consistent NCAA tournament team again. They still may be a year away considering the team lost both of their point guards and one of their centers.

NC State had one of the taller starting five in the country last year with two almost 7 footers. One of those players is no longer in Raleigh, but they still have a dominant big man to fall back on. Manny Bates is the big man and he shot the ball at almost 65% from the floor last year. This year he is due for a huge breakout season and should average close to a double-double.

57. Butler Bulldogs – Last Season Ranking: 45

Conference: Big East

Butler had quite the season last year. They were one of the worst scoring offenses in the country last year as they only averaged 64 points per game last year. The Bulldogs also had wins over Creighton, Villanova, Georgetown, and St. John’s.

As was mentioned it was a very weird season for Butler. The Bulldogs had a long Covid pause at the beginning of the season and then their best player Aaron Thompson got hurt and was lost for the season after only nine games. The Bulldogs, like they always are were good on defense and that should be the same this year.

The main problem for Butler is still going to be their offense they don’t have much on offense and the depth is going to have to get better quickly. Butler looks like they are headed for another bottom-tier finish in the Big East. Chuck Harris was one of the best freshmen in the Big East a season ago. He heads into this season as the best player for Butler and he is going to have to carry this offense some nights.

56. Notre Dame Fighting Irish – Last Season Ranking: 46

Conference: ACC

What to make of Notre Dame?  They were one of the oldest teams in the country heading into last season and they ended up near the bottom of the ACC. I had reasonably high expectations for the Irish as I believed with the talented guards and a good big man, they should be able to win enough games to make the NCAA tournament.

Head coach Mike Brey made the NCAA tournament 11 out of 13 years and the Irish have struggled since that 2016-2017 season. They have not made the tournament since then and have finished in the bottom of the half of the conference during that time.

Heading into this season Notre Dame has an even older team than last year as most of their players returned and utilized the free year. The backcourt is still exceptional, they are still going to be able to shoot from deep. They likely won’t play defense all that well or rebound all that well but with their experience and the depth the team has it could be easily corrected. If the Irish can get the defense figured out, they can make the tournament.

Nate Laszewski is one of the best offensive players in the ACC. He shot almost 70% from inside the arc last year and shot over 40% from three last year. The Irish have been at their best with a dominant big man and Laszewski is the player to get them there.

55. Colorado Buffalos – Last Season Ranking: 55

Conference: Pac-12

Head coach Tad Boyle has done an unbelievable job with Colorado and last year with one of the oldest rosters in the country in all culminated in an NCAA tournament win. Every team is happy that fans are going to be back in the stands, but no team is happier than Colorado. The Buffaloes already have one of the best home-court advantages in the sport given the altitude and how hard it is to play there, but with fans in the building, it is going to make it much more difficult to play the Buffaloes in Boulder.

Coach Boyle is going to need all the help he can get this year because the unfortunate result of having one of the oldest teams in the country is then having one of the youngest teams in the country. Colorado has two of their starters back but loses virtually all their scoring and must find another point guard which can make or break a team.

Evan Battey returns, he is 6’8” and 259 pounds, he has slimmed down this year a little and that should make him more mobile. He is a load in the middle and he is going to get the ball a lot in the offense.

54. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Last Season Ranking: 35

Conference: ACC

The Yellow Jackets come off a season in which many of their fans are going to be pleased because head coach Josh Pastner finally put it all together and got his team to the NCAA tournament. Georgia Tech was one of the more physical teams in the country last year, after playing them most teams felt like they had just gone 12 rounds with a prize boxer. The physical nature and the three-point shooting are what the Yellow Jackets are going to pride themselves on going forward.

Coach Pastner had one of the oldest teams in the country last year, so some attrition was to be expected. Two of those older players utilized their free Covid year and returned, but arguably the two best players that Pastner has had while at Georgia Tech are gone and are not going to be easily replaced.

One other thing of note is that Pastner likes to play with a short bench he consistently only played six or seven guys last year, so some of the younger players are going to be stepping into a role they are not familiar with. Michael DeVoe is a good three-point shooter and is going to lead this team on offense in almost every category. The Jackets’ offense will go as far as DeVoe carries them.

53. Belmont Bruins – Last Season Ranking: 96

Conference: Ohio Valley

Belmont did what they do last year and that was win a lot of games. They started out the season 24-1 before finally losing three out of their last five including the Ohio Valley championship game. The Bruins were not selected as an at-large team into the NCAA tournament. Belmont returns every rotation piece from one of the best offenses. They are one of the oldest teams in the country and are ready to go to battle in the Ohio Valley and are likely going to win the league again.

The Bruins are likely going to be one of the best teams in the country again and are going to push for an at-large bid even if they don’t win the conference tournament. Belmont has a scary offense and they could put a scare into a power school. Nick Muszynski returns for his senior year and is one of the best players in the sport. He should win Ohio Valley player of the year.

52. Creighton Bluejays – Last Season Ranking: 9

Conference: Big East

The best Bluejay team in history never got a chance to compete in the NCAA tournament due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Last year’s team was just as good as Creighton made their first sweet 16 since the 1973-74 season. This year though it is going to be a rebuilding year for Creighton as they have one of the youngest teams in the country. The Bluejays are in good hands though as they do have their best recruiting class in school history on campus this year.

Head coach Greg McDermott is going to do what he does even with a virtually new and unproven roster. Creighton is going to play fast, shoot and make a ton of threes and play a pack-line defense to keep their opponents in check. The Bluejays do utilize the pick and roll to get their bigs involved as well and Creighton has a good one in the middle of the paint.

Ryan Kalkbrenner had a good freshman year, and he is going to be the starter this year and is due for a huge year. He will be one of the breakout players in the Big East this season.

51. San Francisco Dons – Last Season Ranking: 78

Conference: West Coast

The Dons had high expectations heading into last season as head coach Todd Golden had a great team loaded with talent returning. It all looked like it was going to be San Francisco’s year when they beat Virginia early in the year. The rest of the year did not go as anyone planned for the Dons as the win over the Cavaliers was their highlight. San Francisco limped to the finish losing 7 out of their last 8 and finished in the bottom half of the West Coast conference a season ago.

The Dons have more talent than that, as they have their top two players back who are both likely going to have much better years this season. Head coach Todd Golden was able to address this team’s flaws in the transfer portal as well. The Dons are a well-rounded team and they will likely finish in the upper half of the conference and are going to be extremely competitive. Jamaree Bouyea scored 17 points per game a season ago and will be on the all-conference team again this season.