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 /
3 of 23
NCAA Basketball Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Jahlil Jenkins Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
NCAA Basketball Fairleigh Dickinson Knights guard Jahlil Jenkins Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

320. Southern Jaguars – Last Season Ranking: 176

Conference: SWAC

Southern is always going to provide some sort of resistance in the SWAC. They are the one program in the league that has some tradition, however, they are slowly getting left behind by the three teams at the top of the league. The Jaguars are not great at anything, but they are a solid team that doesn’t have and have never been a team to have a ton of individual stars. Southern does everything on a team basis. They move the ball to try and get the best shot possible and they rebound as a team.

The Jaguars are good at getting steals as they were a top 50 team in the country last year with just over eight steals per game a season ago. Southern is still a middle-of-the-pack SWAC team because the top of the league is just too strong. Jayden Saddler is the point guard for the Jaguars, and he is important to their success on the offensive and defensive end.

319. New Orleans Privateers – Last Season Ranking: 281

Conference: Southland

The Privateers are yet another team that plays very slow. New Orleans took about 17 threes per game which in today’s game is extremely low. New Orleans was also one of the most efficient teams in the country when it comes to makes. While the Privateers may not have taken a ton of shots the ones, they did that they made, honestly thinking about their lack of shooting from the outside and the fact they still managed to score 76 points per game is impressive.

The unfortunate thing is that New Orleans was not a great rebounding team and didn’t provide much resistance to the opponent in the paint. The offense should still be very good, but the defense will need to improve especially the on-ball defense. Troy Green and his 15 points per game return.

318. Green Bay Phoenix – Last Season Ranking: 134

Conference: Horizon League

I thought the Phoenix would win the Horizon league a season ago given they had two of the better players in the league. I missed that one by a long way. Green Bay was not great, and they did end up figuring it out towards the end of the year, they still only managed eight wins. The Phoenix has now been one of the worst defensive teams in the country for two years running.

Green Bay is likely not going to be very good again this year as they are in a full-on rebuild. The Phoenix lost a ton of talent to the transfer market and have no one proven who can get a bucket when it is needed.

Green Bay is going to need to find some scoring if they want to climb out of the Horizon league basement. The Phoenix could very well be one of the worst teams in the country. Emmanuel Ansong has the tall task of living up to being the team’s star.

317. Southeastern Louisiana Lions – Last Season Ranking: 316

Conference: Southland

The Southland Conference has typically had one or two teams who are very good consistently and anyone that is outside of those two teams can finish anywhere in the standings. Last year the league had four teams with a winning record overall and after that, no team won more than 11 games. Southeastern Louisiana falls into the second category.

They finished middle of the pack in the league but were not a good team overall. They couldn’t defend at all a season ago. Things could be looking up this year though as the Lions have their top scorers back from a season ago and added a huge transfer in Antonio Gordon from Kansas State. They are still a middle-of-pack Southland team.

316. Dixie State Trailblazers – Last Season Ranking: 223

Conference: WAC

The transition year for Dixie State went about as you would expect it would. The Trailblazers were one of the shortest teams in the country last year and their defense suffered because of it. Dixie State fouled a ton and they were dreadful at keeping teams off the glass. The offense was not much better as they shot barely over 40% from the field.

In all that is to be expected in a transition year and each year should hopefully start to get better and better. Dixie State is going to be a bottom-tier team in the WAC again this season but 5’11” point guard Cameron Gooden is a really good one for the Trailblazers.

315. Jacksonville Dolphins – Last Season Ranking: 338

Conference: Atlantic Sun

I grossly underestimated Jacksonville last year. They had two of the more dynamic players in the Atlantic Sun last year. That was last year and heading into this year the Dolphins have a brand-new coach in Jordan Mincy, who was an assistant coach at Florida for the last six seasons. Coach Mincy has completely revamped this roster with a slew of elite scorers from the mid-major level and a few crucial pieces from some major schools.

One player on the transfer market to watch for is USC Upstate transfer Tommy Bruner. Bruner is a great offensive player and can win a few games for Jacksonville by himself. The Dolphins also have one of the best returning players in the Atlantic Sun in 17 points per game scorer Kevion Nolan.

314. Binghamton Bearcats – Last Season Ranking: 324

Conference: America East

The Bearcats have made one NCAA tournament and it also happens to be their last winning season. That was in 2008-09. Since then they have finished at or near the bottom of the America East every season.

Binghamton, like a lot of other teams who are mired near the bottom of their conferences, has a terrible time keeping their great players. They lost one of the best players in the America East in Sam Sessioms two seasons ago and this year they again lost their top scorer and best player to transfer.

It is hard to gain any momentum when that happens. Binghamton does have the rest of their roster mostly intact including returning leading scorer Tyler Bertram. It will still be an uphill climb for Binghamton this season.

313. Kennesaw State Owls – Last Season Ranking: 347

Conference: Atlantic Sun

The Owls improved their win total from one win in 2019-20 to five in 2020-21. Kennesaw State still was not a good team last year but what they did do is completely flip the way they played. In 2019-2020 they were one of the worst offensive teams in the country as well as one of the worst defensive teams in the country. Head coach Amir Abdur-Rahim really got his team focused on the defensive end to give themselves a chance most nights.

They were a top 175 team in the country on defense, while the offense is still coming around the commitment to defense is going to help the Owls be successful quicker. Kennesaw State may see a slight improvement in wins, and if senior Spencer Rodgers improves on his 17 points per game a season ago the offense will improve as a result.

312. Fairleigh Dickinson Knights – Last Season Ranking: 212

Conference: Northeast

Head coach Greg Herenda has done a fantastic job at Fairleigh Dickinson; however, this year may be a struggle. The Knights have lost 61% of their scoring from a season ago and they have an extremely young and inexperienced team. Fairleigh Dickinson has eight players who have no experience in the program and who were not with the team last season. It appears it may be a long season for the Knights but Herenda always seems to do a lot with very little. Brandon Rush returns for the Knights. He is a 42% shooter from deep and should put up a lot of points this year.

311. SIU- Edwardsville Cougars – Last Season Ranking: 330

Conference: Ohio Valley

The Ohio Valley is a great mid-major league and the facts are that SIU-Edwardsville is going to be outmatched most nights. They did improve last year from the year before and finished in the middle of the conference so that is progress. Head Coach Brian Barone has a young team coming back this year, but he has always seemed to land a quality transfer that is going to bring scoring and experience to his team. This year that player is Shaun Doss Jr who is a 19-point-per=game scorer from Arkansas Pine Bluff.

310. Presbyterian Blue Hose – Last Season Ranking: 304

Conference: Big South

Presbyterian has always had an uphill climb. The school is small and every time they get any footing their best players transfer out or graduate. The Blue Hose enter year 4 with Quenton Ferrell at the helm and one thing that has defined the tenure of the current head coach is his commitment on the defensive end.

The Blue Hose are always limited offensively but they always play really good defense and last year they were one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country. Presbyterian does have the reigning Big South Freshman of the Year in do-everything star Rayshon Harrison. He is a difference-maker on the floor for the Blue Hose, but he likely isn’t enough to keep Presbyterian from the bottom tier of the Big South.

309. Loyola Maryland Greyhounds – Last Season Ranking: 255

Conference: Patriot League

Loyola Maryland has had two of the best scorers in college basketball the last handful of seasons and they have nothing to show for it. The Greyhounds were not a good team from deep last year, but they were efficient everywhere else. Loyola Maryland had one of the best players in basketball last year that no one has ever heard of. Santi Aldama led the team in every category and averaged a double-double a season ago.

In true Greyhound fashion, the entire game plan for coach Tavares Hardy was to get the ball to Aldama any way possible. Aldama is no longer on campus and it is now Jaylin Andrews team. Andrews will probably average close to 20 points a game and Loyola Maryland will likely find themselves in the middle of the Patriot League.

308. Grambling State Tigers – Last Season Ranking: 280

Conference: SWAC

Head Coach Donte Jackson has turned the Grambling State program around. When he took over the Tigers were one of the worst programs in the country. Now, they are consistently one of the top programs in the SWAC every year. The Tigers do it by playing slow methodical offense that usually results in a shot by the rim. Grambling only took a shade over 15 threes a game a season ago. The Tigers are one of the taller SWAC teams overall, but they don’t block a ton of shots.

Instead, they utilize their length on the perimeter and jump into the passing lanes for steals which is going to lead to easy buckets in transition. Cam Christon is the offensive star for Grambling State. The Tigers don’t quite have the talent to finish in the top 2 but they should still be a middle-of-the-pack SWAC team.

307. Western Michigan Broncos – Last Season Ranking: 245

Conference: MAC

The Broncos were a dreadful offensive team last year in every aspect it was just a struggle. Western Michigan had a very strange year last year in all honesty. Looking at the metrics it is amazing they were decent on the defensive end. The Broncos don’t play much of a pressure-style defense and they only forced about 10 turnovers per game which is one of the lowest numbers in the country. Western Michigan didn’t rebound well and for some reason when they were on offense they never got fouled. It is probably a good thing they never got fouled as they were one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country.

It goes without saying, with as bad as they were on offense, that Western Michigan was not a good three-point shooting team. This season, head coach Clayton Bates was able to secure the commitment on Mack Smith from Eastern Illinois. Smith made a three in 109 consecutive games with Eastern Illinois so he will provide much-needed help on the perimeter.

306. Florida International Panthers – Last Season Ranking: 151

Conference: Conference USA

The Panthers played pretty well in non-conference last year, but then when Conference USA play started it saw Florida International lose 15 out of the 17 conference games and they were overmatched most nights, losing the games by an average of 12 points every night. Florida International was one of the shortest teams in the country and they were horribly inefficient shooting the basketball.

Sometimes you can overcome that, but when you are also a terrible rebounding team every night, and with no quality height, do nothing to slow down the opposition things are usually going to go poorly for you. The Panthers also lost a lot of production from last year’s team but did add a big man who should help with the rebounding woes.

Seth Pinkney, a transfer from Quinnipiac, is a good rebounder, scorer, and rim protector and he will be the best player for Florida International. It may be another long year for the Panthers as they are slated to finish near the bottom of the league again.

305. Western Carolina Catamounts – Last Season Ranking: 120

Conference: Southern

I was extremely high on Western Carolina last year as I really liked their former head coach Mark Prosser. I also believed that former guard Mason Faulkner would be in the mix for the conference player of the year and in the running for national player of the year. The Catamounts put all of that to bed when they lost 13 out of 15 games in the middle of the year. They now have a new coach and a virtually new roster, which is not likely going to go well in the loaded Southern Conference.

New head coach Justin Gray knows a lot about winning as he did a lot of it as the top assistant at Winthrop, but this season is going to be a struggle. The roster is made up of mostly JUCO transfers and depth pieces. Vonterious Woolbright was a JUCO All-American and he is going to need to replicate that for Western Carolina.

304. San Jose State Spartans – Last Season Ranking: 284

Conference: Mountain West

San Jose State has never been good at basketball, they have not finished in the top half of the WAC in a long time. The Spartans made a splash this offseason when they hired former Nebraska head coach and all-around good guys in the game in Tim Miles.

Miles has always been known to scour the transfer market and get good returns on his transfers. He has done the same thing with guys looking for a fresh start at the Division 1 level. Miles is a program builder and will make San Jose State somewhat relevant and he is going to do it by opening the driving lanes and having his team get fouled a lot. They do shoot some threes but not as many as other teams.

This year could be a challenge as Miles is starting from scratch but he does have two of the top players from last seasons’ team available and a player like Shon Robinson, a transfer from Ole Miss, has all the makings of a team leader and alpha in the Miles offense.

303. Central Michigan Chippewas – Last Season Ranking: 213

Conference: MAC

It is going to be hard to gauge the Chippewas heading into the season as they have flipped almost the entire roster and they did flip the entire coaching staff. Central Michigan hired Tony Barbee in the offseason who was the associate head coach at Kentucky over the last year but had been on the staff since 2015. The Chippewas head coach is a great recruiter and should be able to pull some excellent talent into Central Michigan.

This year he had to build a roster fast and did so via the transfer route. He has a lot of work to do on team chemistry and while he has a lot of talent that will play well in the MAC the fact none of these guys have played together before could hold them back. Jermaine Jackson Jr, a transfer from Long Island, should lead this team in scoring.

302. Coppin State Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 261

Conference: MEAC

Coppin State, like so many other teams that play in low major ranks, was overmatched last year for much of the non-conference. Once the Eagles started MEAC play it was a different story as they saw the scoring increase to over 80 points per game. Coppin State still had a heck of a time on the defensive end.

They were very good at keeping teams from scoring at a good clip as teams shot well under 50% overall against them. The Eagles were a bad rebounding team and they did turn the ball over which leads to more shots for the opponents. Coppin State was good on defense they just gave up so many shots. They were outshot by about 20 shots every game and that is likely not going to do well for your record.

The Eagles should still finish in the top half of the MEAC this year as head coach Juan Dixon added some quality transfers to go with MEAC breakout player Nendah Tarke.

301. Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 262

Conference: Ohio Valley

When the Golden Eagles decided to hire John Pelphrey, they figured they would get better and get back to the middle of the Ohio Valley pack. What has happened is that Tennessee Tech has gotten worse over the two years that Pelphrey has been the coach. It is hard to get any consistent level of play when the team is as porous as it has been on defense over the last few seasons.

Teams hit 36% of their three-point shots against the Golden Eagles last year and they made over 50% of their two-point attempts. If Tennessee Tech can get it figured out on the defensive end, they have a chance to be respectable this year especially considering they have one of the best players in the Ohio Valley Conference in Jr Clay.

300. Eastern Michigan Eagles- Last Season Ranking: 203

Conference: MAC

Eastern Michigan enters a new exciting era for their basketball program as they relieved former coach Rob Murphy of his coaching duties and hired Stan Heath. Heath has run successful programs in the MAC before and is a great recruiter which is exactly what the Eagles need. This year is going to be a rebuilding and foundation year for the Eagles. Heath was able to secure some quality transfers and keep one of the Eastern stars on the roster.

Where they finish is going to be a crapshoot based on how well they come together and how well all the guys adapt to the new system. Eastern Michigan likely finishes near the bottom of the MAC pack. Star Bryce McBride is a great scorer who should adapt nicely to Heath’s system.

299. UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros- Last Season Ranking: 180

Conference: WAC

The Vaqueros had a great start to the season and were looking to be a threat in the WAC and then head coach Lew Hill died on a road trip in the hotel after a game. Rio Grande Valley was never able to recover as many teams wouldn’t. New head coach Matt Figger, who last coached at Austin Peay, may have his work cut out for him this year.

The roster for the Vaqueros is new and it is going to be total rebuild. Coach Figger tried to speed up the process by scouring the transfer market and landing some graduate transfers to complete his roster. Coach Figger is always going to find shooters and multi-use players who can both shoot and rebound and he is a really good player development coach. It won’t be long before Texas Rio Grande Valley is back at the top of the WAC.

This year is likely going to be a rebuilding year and they may finish in the bottom half of the WAC, especially considering the WAC has gotten stronger. Quinton Johnson II had a strong freshman year and is poised for a breakout.

298. UC San Diego Tritons – Last Season Ranking: 187

Conference: Big West

I clearly did not know what to expect last season when I ranked UC San Diego. They had just come off a season in which they went 37-1 in the Division II ranks and had most of that team back. The transition to Division 1 was a rocky one for the Tritons. They had moments of greatness, but most of the time they looked overmatched, especially when it came to the conference.

That is going to change as soon as they can get a few years under their belt and start recruiting at the Division 1 level. The Tritons were fifth overall in the country last year with 30 three-point attempts and they made 38% of them. The problem lies in the fact that UC San Diego was one of the worst rebounding teams in the country as they only averaged 30 a game and their opponents hauled in almost 40 a game. It is going to be hard to win when that happens.

If the Tritons can figure out how to rebound, they can turn their results around. Given what the team lost it is still going to be about 2 or 3 years before they are good. Toni Rocak returns to lead the offense.

297. North Dakota Fighting Hawks – Last Season Ranking: 195

Conference: Summit League

I was high on North Dakota last year because of a few players who I believed could win them some close games and make some headway in the Summit League. What happened was a team who struggled to ever find their footing on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. On the offensive end, the Hawks were not great at anything but were good enough to stay in most games on the offensive end of the floor.

North Dakota did have one of the worst defenses in the country last year. Some of it was bad luck as teams just seemed to hit a ton of shots against them but they didn’t provide as much resistance as they should have. The Hawks lost their best player and their point guard this year and don’t have a single player on the roster who averaged double digits. Head coach Paul Sather is a good enough coach to keep them from the bottom tier of the Summit. Caleb Nero is the best player for the Fighting Hawks.

296. Sacramento State Hornets – Last Season Ranking: 306

Conference: Big Sky

Sacramento State was having a good season last year and then they went on to lose 9 of their last 11 games and that the season was a lot less successful. The Hornets are a very efficient offensive team, but they don’t really do much special. They preach and practice ball control. Sacramento State rarely turns the ball over averaging a little over 10 per game. They also are extremely proficient from deep but don’t take many shots from outside. They somehow don’t get fouled very often and are not a great rebounding team.

On the flip side they don’t give up many rebounds to their opponents either, they don’t foul, and they deny the three-point line. They are a very interesting team who is likely going to be in almost every game they play. The other issue was they had five seniors last year a few are returning. Senior Bryce Fowler gets to run the show this year.

295. Little Rock Trojans – Last Season Ranking: 93

Conference: Sun Belt

The expectations for Little Rock were extremely high last year considering they had two of the best players in the Sun Belt heading into the season. The Trojans regressed last year and ended the season with a losing record. Little Rock was having an okay season and really starting to find their footing when their best player was injured and out for the season. That sparked the Trojans losing 8 out of their last 9 games.

This year the Trojans are going into full-on rebuild mode again as 3 of the top 4 players are all gone. Head coach Darrell Walker is going to have to develop some depth and quickly. After the five starters, the next highest scored a little over four points per game. Nikola Maric is going to have to carry this team all year long.

294. Long Beach State 49ers – Last Season Ranking: 319

Conference: Big West

The 49ers have had a lot of good years under head coach Don Monson. Those years have been few and far between in recent years. This year and in years past the margin for error for Long Beach State is slim and the line between being good and mediocre is skinny as well. They have always had a dynamic offense and have always been good at shooting from deep.

Long Beach plays a wide-open style, so they are usually going to get outrebounded which was the case last year, but they were destroyed on the offensive glass allowing just over 12 offensive rebounds per game. The 49ers have got to figure out a way to slow down their opponents this year. Joe Hampton comes back to lead Long Beach State in most every category.

293. Bucknell Bison – Last Season Ranking: 282

Conference: Patriot League

After three 20 win seasons in a row and two straight NCAA tournament appearances, the Bison have had two straight losing seasons. Last season was a little bit of bad luck as they watched the opponents bury a ton of threes against them. Obviously, they need to guard the line a little better and it would really help if Bucknell rebounded the ball better. The Bison were not a good rebounding team at all. Head coach Nathan Davis has always been able to coach offense and will likely do so again.

Bucknell was one of the worst defensive teams giving up 80 per game but also one of the best offensive teams scoring about 76 per game. Bucknell did lose a 25 point per game scorer but does return Andrew Funk who led the team in minutes and finished second in scoring.

292. NJIT Highlanders – Last Season Ranking: 165

Conference: America East

The first season in the America East did not go well for the Highlanders. The previous season NJIT had some momentum and had a lot of pieces returning from their top-half finish in the Atlantic Sun. Head coach Brian Kennedy lost a ton of experience and a ton of scoring from his team last year.

There was some underperformance last year given the Covid 19 pandemic, no fans, and new league so this year should have been better, but given the team isn’t going to have much in the way of scoring this year it could be a pretty tough year for NJIT. Souleymane Diakite has a tremendously high ceiling and he took a huge step backward last year as he battled some injuries. If he is healthy, he is the best player on this roster and can carry them to a few wins by himself.

291. Florida A&M Rattlers – Last Season Ranking: 313

Conference: SWAC

Year one for the Rattlers in the SWAC after a long stint in the MEAC. The SWAC is a better basketball conference and the transition could be a challenging one for Florida A&M at least initially. FAMU is another school that plays slow out of necessity they don’t handle the ball overly well as they committed about 17 turnovers a game last year.

They also move the ball well and play good defense. They had the best defense in the MEAC last year. Defense travels and the Rattlers have a good portion of their team back this year especially do everything guard MJ Randolph.