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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Detroit Mercy Titans guard Antoine Davis NCAA Basketball 12282019 Bball Ouudm 12
Detroit Mercy Titans guard Antoine Davis NCAA Basketball 12282019 Bball Ouudm 12 /

200. Northern Colorado Bears – Last Season Ranking: 191

Conference: Big Sky

This offseason should have put the rest of the Big Sky on notice regarding Northern Colorado. They may not take the most threes in the country, although they will be up there with their attempts, they may make the most threes of any team in the country. The Bears are loaded with shooters up and down the roster and they can make them from any position at any time in the game.

On the reverse, head coach Steve Smiley and his defensive philosophy are to absolutely deny the three-pointers at all possible costs.  Northern Colorado allowed the fewest attempts from deep last of any team in the country. They only allowed teams to shoot 13 threes per game. In addition, they held teams to under 30% from deep. Somehow even with all that the Bears only went 11-11 last year and finished 7th in the league.

This year is likely going to be different and Northern Colorado is likely going to finish near the top and they are a threat to make the NCAA tournament and give a team a scare. When you can shoot as they can, they will never be out of a game. Bodie Hume returns to lead of slew of shooters.

199. Youngstown State Penguins – Last Season Ranking: 186

Conference: Horizon League

Youngstown State has never made the NCAA tournament but with their head Jerrod Calhoun it won’t be long before they do make the NCAA tournament. The Penguins play extremely fast and they get fouled a lot. They also have two players returning who are extremely efficient. Youngstown State has been getting better and better each year under their current head coach and this year is likely no exception.

The Penguins don’t turn the ball over on offense and they don’t shoot that many threes, but they do get downhill and attack the rim on their way to getting fouled. The Horizon League is going to be wide open this year and that tournament is always crazy, so anything can happen. Garrett Covington is efficient on offense and good from the free throw line. The Penguins are in good hands with him.

198. Bryant Bulldogs – Last Season Ranking: 251

Conference: Northeast

Head Coach Jared Grasso finally got it going at Bryant last year. He has the Bulldogs in position to be a contender in the Northeast Conference for a long time. The style of play for Bryant is so much different than anything else coming out of the conference. Bryant was one of the fastest teams in the country last year and they were also one of the highest-scoring teams in the country last year.

The Bulldogs were a joy to watch on offense last year as they ran up and down the floor and got shots up quick. Bryant was also one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the county and when they got the ball it didn’t take them long to get to the opposite end of the floor.

Bryant is a top-half Northeast Conference team again as they have a good portion of their roster back from last season. Peter Kiss was a 43% three-point shooter last year and he hopes he can help finally lead Bryant to the NCAA Tournament.

197. La Salle Explorers – Last Season Ranking: 178

Conference: Atlantic 10

The Explorers were an interesting team last year as they were not all that bad on the offensive end or the defensive end, but if you only looked at the individual numbers it would paint a different picture entirely. La Salle didn’t have a single player average double-digit points, but head coach Ashley Howard played a lot of guys and each one of them contributed. They were true to the team concept. La Salle forced teams to play slow and they never got fouled.

They did shoot a good number of threes but the Explorers with a full offseason under their belt should have a better year and lots of guys are going to develop. The Atlantic 10 is always competitive and the Explorers are good enough to finish in the middle of the league. Jack Clark returns to lead the Explorers.

196. Southern Mississippi Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 326

Conference: Conference USA

The Eagles are in another rebuild and are in year 3 of the Jay Ladner era. Ladner has gotten a little better at offense and a little better at defense each year he has been there. The problem is that Conference USA is extremely competitive and it is hard to have a new program that competes near the top of that league every year. Ladner is a good coach and he will get things turned around in Hattiesburg, but it may take a few more years.

Having a good chunk of his team back from last year will certainly help speed up the rebuild. Big man Tyler Stevenson returns and will likely lead the team in points and rebounding again.

195. Stetson Hatters – Last Season Ranking: 163

Conference: Atlantic Sun

I thought last year could have been the year for Stetson, especially with what they had coming back and the way the 2019-2020 season ended. I also failed to consider that this was a tremendously young team, the Atlantic Sun was loaded at the top, and Stetson just didn’t have the horses to compete every night.

The Hatters are another year older and return all three of their stars and have some quality depth. Stetson is a fantastic shooting team from deep as they made almost 37% of their attempts from long range. The Hatters were also the second-highest scoring team in the Atlantic Sun a season ago. This year the conference is much better and there may be a log jam within the first five teams in the league.

I still believe in Stetson because I think their core three players are that good, with a full offseason and another year of development under their belts this team could really take off. Rob Perry is a legit player and is likely going to be a shoo-in for first-team all-conference.

194. Sam Houston State Bearkats – Last Season Ranking: 194

Conference: WAC

Sam Houston State enters year one as a new member of the WAC. The Bearkats were one of the best teams in the Southland conference and almost always finished near the top under current head coach Jason Hooten. Sam Houston State could unfortunately never finish the deal though as they have not made an NCAA tournament under their current head coach.

Year one in the WAC and the Bearkats may experience a bit of growing pains as they must replace a lot from last year’s team. Sam Houston State is one of the fastest teams in the country and they are never going to waiver from how they play. They also shoot a ton of threes and will likely lead the WAC in three-point attempts. The Bearkats move the ball and are efficient from inside the arc.

Even though they lost the Southland player of the year, the Bearkats still have Demarkus Lampley who is one of the better shooters in the country and a very creative scorer.

193. Delaware Blue Hens- Last Season Ranking: 177

Conference: Colonial

It’s hard to know how Delaware would have ended the season had it not been for a long Covid pause from January 31st to the time the Colonial tournament started on March 7th. The Blue Hens were not a great shooting team from outside, but they were an extremely efficient team from inside the arc. Delaware was a very good rebounding team.

Delaware was one of the slowest teams in the country as they only averaged about 53 shots per game. The Blue Hens will likely continue to play slow, but they should still be a good enough team who finishes right around .500. Dylan Painter, a Villanova transfer, looks to lead Delaware in his second season with the team.

192. Idaho State Bengals – Last Season Ranking: 328

Conference: Big Sky

You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who saw the Bengals having as much success as they did last year. Head Coach Ryan Looney has turned this program around and heading into year 3 many Idaho State fans are very excited for what is in store. The Bengals were relentless on defense last season.

They allowed less than 30 rebounds per game and made it tremendously hard to score from 2-point range. Overall, they only allowed 61 points per game. Idaho State also returns a good portion of their roster from last season including their top three scorers and star guard Tarik Cool.

191. Florida Atlantic Owls – Last Season Ranking: 273

Conference: Conference USA

Head coach Dusty May enters his fourth season as the head coach of Florida Atlantic and the Owls have yet to record a losing season. Last season was the year that everything seemed to click for Florida Atlantic. They were a top 50 team on offense and a top 80 team on defense. The Owls shot 37% from deep and were a top 10 rebounding team overall. As we all know it’s the little things that win games and many a college basketball game has been won and lost on the free throw line.

Florida Atlantic was one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country. Everything else is trending up for the Owls. They do lose some key players but have leading scorer Michael Forrest back on campus. The Owls are likely a middle-of-the-pack Conference USA team just due to the sheer strength of that league.

190. Wagner Seahawks – Last Season Ranking: 336

Conference: Northeast

I would like to apologize to all those Wagner fans out there in Staten Island. I drastically underrated them but before last season head coach Bashir Mason did have his team trending down. This year though I am much higher on the Seahawks as they have two dynamic scorers back for their extra year.

The NEC is always an extremely hard conference to predict and the conference tournament never goes as planned. However, this could finally be the year for coach Mason and the Seahawks to return to the NCAA tournament. Guard Alex Morales likely wins the NEC player of the year again.

189. Detroit Mercy Titans – Last Season Ranking: 274

Conference: Horizon League

If you are a Horizon League basketball fan, then Detroit Mercy is one of the teams you must see. They are fun to watch as they can shoot the lights out of a building. They shot 40% from deep last year which was one of the best percentages in the country. The Titans don’t take all that many threes but the ones they do take they make, and overall head coach Mike Davis has an efficient offense.

Detroit Mercy won 11 of 14 games to close out last year.  The Titans are ready to turn the corner this year and are one of the favorites to come out of the Horizon League. I like them a lot and they have the offensive firepower to catch a power school napping. This team has a dynamic duo in Noah Waterman and Antoine Davis. Davis may very well lead the country in scoring. Detroit Mercy is a very dangerous team.

188. Navy Midshipmen – Last Season Ranking: 241

Conference: Patriot League

I was way off on Navy and I drastically underestimated how important it was to have the kind of leadership they did last year. The Midshipmen had a great season last year and ended at 15-3 and 12-1 in the regular season of the Patriot League. Navy drew a ton of fouls and made teams pay when they were at the free throw line. The win over Georgetown last year showed that Navy may be for real last year.

Even though the Midshipmen lost their best player, they are still a likely contender for the top of this league just based on the way they play. Greg Summers returns and becomes the leader in Annapolis.

187. Indiana State Sycamores – Last Season Ranking: 154

Conference: Missouri Valley

Indiana State enters a new era and that is the Josh Schertz era in Terrae Haute. Schertz was an impressive coach at the Division II Lincoln Memorial. He won a lot of games and will likely do so with the Sycamores but the first year may not go so well as a lot of the talent for Indiana State decided to transfer. Coach Schertz did bring three of his former players with him which is going to be a huge help for building the foundation at Indiana State.

The other thing that is going to help the Sycamores is that they do return a few of the players from last year including their oldest player to navigate through the tough grind of the basketball schedule. It is hard to place a good bet on expectations for the Sycamores, but they should still be good enough to finish in the middle of the pack of the Missouri Valley.

186. Wyoming Cowboys – Last Season Ranking: 243

Conference: Mountain West

Let’s just level set for a second with Wyoming. Head coach Jeff Linder took over the job last year with virtually no offseason due to Covid-19 and had only one way to go and that was up. It was a full rebuild for the Cowboys. Linder did remarkable winning 14 games and showing the Mountain West that no one is going to take more threes than them in the conference and they are not going to let opponents shoot threes either.

It is also strange because Wyoming doesn’t play overly fast, they just love to shoot the ball from deep. The defensive philosophy is denying the three-point line as they only gave up about 18 attempts per game from deep. Linder has this team trending up and has most of his production back from last year. Xavier DuSell might make 50% of his threes this year. He is one of if not the best shooters in the country.

185. Harvard Crimson – Last Season Ranking: 349

Conference: Ivy League

No denying that head coach Tommy Amaker has completely turned around the Harvard program. The Crimson had a fantastic run 10 years ago when they made the tournament four straight seasons. Harvard has not made the tournament since 2014-2015 and they have finished near the top of the Ivy League almost every year under Amaker. The lost season and graduation have hurt Harvard and this year they have a young and relatively inexperienced roster.

Amaker is a great coach and Harvard is still going to finish in the top 3 of the leagues but shouldn’t be much of a threat to the top two teams. Noah Kirkwood is a star in the league and will be a first-team All-Ivy League.

184. Mercer Bears – Last Season Ranking: 123

Conference: Southern

The fact that Mercer, who had one of the best offenses and was one of the best shooting teams in the country a season ago, finished 8th in the Southern Conference a season ago, should tell you all you need to know about the overall strength of that conference. The Bears were top 50 in overall shooting percentage and three-point percentage.

They were just outside the top 50 when it comes to scoring offense. Mercer moved the ball well as they were also top 20 in total assists per game. It makes sense the offense was a well-oiled machine given their coach Greg Gary came from Purdue and oversaw those offenses when they had Carsen Edwards. Mercer returns a good portion of their team from last year and should finish middle of the pack in the league again.

Something tells me they finish higher given the fact they had a full offseason and some of the teams who finished ahead of them lost a lot. The Bears need to work on improving their defense, as it was often too easy for teams to score on them last year. If they do that then the Bears can reach their full potential. Neftali Alvarez is the point guard and comes back for another year to lead the offense.

183. Stony Brook Seawolves – Last Season Ranking: 199

Conference: America East

It was a tale of two sides of the floor for Stony Brook. On the offensive side of the ball, they were horrible from the three-point line and just overall not very efficient. They only shot 41% from the floor overall and under 30% from three. The Seawolves were one of the best teams in the country though when it came to protecting the rim. They averaged five blocks per game, but that player is no longer on campus. It was a disappointing season overall for Stony Brook.

Heading into this year, the Seawolves were very active on the transfer market to try and bolster their offense, especially from deep. They likely won’t be able to protect the rim nearly as effectively as they graduated those players, but Stony Brook should be better from deep.

Elijah Olaniyi is one of the best players in Stony Brook history and he returns to the Seawolves after one year at Miami. Olaniyi has won a lot of games for the Seawolves and they will be better with him.

182. James Madison Dukes – Last Season Ranking: 292

Conference: Colonial

James Madison dominated the Colonial last year. They are likely going to do it again this year heading into head coach Mark Byington’s second year at the school. The Dukes were able to score at will against almost anyone in their conference last year. That usually happens when you have two Alphas on offense.

Reigning Colonial Player of Year Matt Lewis is no longer on campus, but James Madison does have Vado Morse who is probably going to win the award this year. The Dukes are one of the favorites to compete for an NCAA bid out of the Colonial this year.

181. San Diego Toreros – Last Season Ranking: 279

Conference: West Coast

San Diego only won three games last season and heading into this season they could be looking at the biggest improvement in terms of wins and relevance of any team in the country. The West Coast Conference is obviously dominated by Gonzaga but there is always room for a few more teams to rise and make the tournament. The Toreros and head coach Sam Scholl were extremely active on the transfer market and went and got some high-quality transfers from power five schools.

As with any team that has a ton of transfers it could also go poorly. I don’t think it will and I think San Diego finishes top 4 in the WCC. Jase Townsend, a transfer from Denver, is capable of scoring 25 points per game, and if he does that the Toreros will reach their ceiling.