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 Osun Osunniyi St. Bonaventure Bonnies (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
NCAA Basketball Osun Osunniyi St. Bonaventure Bonnies (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

20. St. Bonaventure Bonnies – Last Season Ranking: 148

Conference: Atlantic 10

St. Bonaventure finds themselves in the top 25 as they return their entire starting five from a team who won the Atlantic 10 last season. The Bonnies were an interesting team last year as they usually only played six guys all season and got virtually all of their scoring from their starting five.

Head coach Mark Schmidt has done a tremendous job with this team and seemingly always has the Bonnies in contention in the Atlantic 10. St. Bonaventure is extremely physical on the defensive end and is a fantastic rebounding team.

On defense, everything is contested, and they are fundamentally sound as they do not allow much to go to the rim. The Bonnies force teams to take terrible shots, and as a result, teams shot a terrible shooting percentage from the floor against them. If the Bonnies really want to reach their maximum potential, they really needed to find some depth. Coach Schmidt went out and scoured the transfer portal to get some much-needed depth.

Osun Osunniyi returns, and he is the most important player for the Bonnies. Osunniyi is a double-double machine and is the anchor for the defense. His three blocks per game led the Atlantic 10 last year. The Atlantic 10 championship runs through Olean this year and they are a second weekend NCAA tournament team.

19. Ohio State Buckeyes – Last Season Ranking: 44

Conference: Big Ten

Heading into the season last year Ohio State had some question marks and I didn’t know what their ceiling was. Their ceiling was pretty good as they ended up a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament where they got exposed against Oral Roberts. The Buckeyes had a great offense last year and they likely will again this year. The one spot that is going to come with more question marks is the point guard position, right now they don’t have one on the roster who has been successful at the power five level.

Another one of the flaws the Buckeyes had was on the defensive end, they had a really hard time guarding the three-point line, and most importantly is that they don’t have anyone who is a lockdown defender. Head coach Chris Holtmann was able to find a lockdown defender in the transfer portal and since he returns most of his entire offense Ohio State should be good again.

The Buckeyes are likely a top-half Big Ten team and will make the NCAA tournament. Even without a true point guard, the team has too many pieces on offense. EJ Liddell is one of the best big men in the country and is going to see his name put into the mix for a lot of awards. He is going to be on the first team all-conference again this season.

18. North Carolina Tar Heels – Last Season Ranking: 25

Conference: ACC

Legendary coach Roy Williams called it a career after last season. The Tar Heels never really seemed to get going last year. Sure, they made the NCAA tournament, but they got blasted by Wisconsin in the NCAA tournament. The new coach is a North Carolina legend as a player in Hubert Davis and he has already hit the ground running especially on the transfer market.

The Tar Heels have two good big men going into the season who both play the game in a different way to give teams a different look. Even though both will likely play at the same time, and both likely start for coach Davis.  North Carolina never got the production from their guards that they were expecting last year and even this year they have some question marks in the backcourt.

Will those players take a step forward and take this team over the top?  If the backcourt can get it going then North Carolina will be a lot better than they look to be now. Armando Bacot was already a load in the paint and at times could dominate. The big man put on some muscle in the offseason and really came into his own last year in the ACC tournament. Bacot is going to be big for the Tar Heels this year.

17. Tennessee Volunteers – Last Season Ranking: 36

Conference: SEC

Rick Barnes is turning Tennessee into one of the premier destinations for one-and-done high school stars. Over the last few years, they have gotten a ton of production from the freshman. The Volunteers have had a good mix over the last few seasons of young players and experienced players, and it has really helped Tennessee turn into one of the best teams in the SEC.

The Volunteers were unbelievable on defense last year and that is what they rode into the tournament. Tennessee was not a great offensive team, the numbers show they were an average offensive team, but watching them the offense was often clunky. The numbers do support that the Volunteers were an inefficient team on the offensive end, and they had one of the worst efficiency marks in the SEC and one of the worst offenses overall.

This season Tennessee is going to rely on freshmen for most of their production again, but they again have a great mix of talent from young and old again. The Volunteers are likely going to finish near the top of the SEC again and make the NCAA tournament. Tennessee has two top 20 recruits on campus ready to make an impact this year and that is going to drastically improve the offense, but the defense is still going to be exceptional.

Kennedy Chandler is the highest-ranked recruit to ever sign at Tennessee. He has yet to play a game and he is already being recognized as one of the best Point Guards in the country. He is the only true freshman to be named on the Cousy Award preseason watchlist. When you watch Chandler play you will see that all the accolades are more than just hype.

16. Houston Cougars – Last Season Ranking: 23

Conference: American Athletic

I have been a huge fan of Kelvin Sampson for a long time, and I still even undersold how good Houston was going to be last year. They were one of the best teams in the country last year, and they were a top-five team for most of the year. They ended up making the final four before losing to eventual national champion Baylor.

Houston was one of the best defensive teams in the country. The cougars slowed opponents’ way down on the defensive end. Houston played pretty fast on offense they were disciplined and aggressive on defense and forced teams to operate in the half-court. The Cougars allowed on average of about 19 made baskets against them all year. Opponents only shot 37% from the floor against the Cougars. Those numbers were both the best in the country.

Houston is still going to have a great defense this year, but they did lose a lot of talent from last year’s team and while they will still make the tournament, they likely won’t repeat making the Final Four. They should still win the American running away though. Marcus Sasser is the best point guard in the American and many argue he is the best player in the league. Sasser should win the player of the year in the American.