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 /
9 of 23
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles guard Max Abmas Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles guard Max Abmas Joshua Bickel-USA TODAY Sports /

160. UNC Greensboro Spartans – Last Season Ranking: 75

Conference: Southern

The Spartans were a very odd team last year as they were dominated on offense by one superstar player and everything else was really balanced. UNC Greensboro is also breaking in a new coach this season as former coach Wes Miller is off to Cincinnati. New head coach Mike Jones comes to Greensboro from the Big South where he built Radford into a conference power there.

The Spartans were not a good three-point shooting team last year and they didn’t shoot a very high percentage from the floor. Coach Jones is going to play a much different style as Greensboro played fast last year, but coach Jones likes to slow the pace and move the ball. His offenses are based around a dominant big man and a good point guard to run the offense. He also needs a big man who can both score and defend and a point guard who is going to do that as well. He needed to hit the transfer market to find his point guard.

Right now, there isn’t a forward on the roster who would fit that bill, but don’t be surprised when one of the big men on this roster has a breakout year. Greensboro may not finish at the top of the league again this year and likely finishes middle of the pack. Dante Treacy is the point guard who is going to run this offense. He was a starter for Robert Morris before transferring. He never turns the ball over, is a capable scorer, and a great passer. Just what coach Jones is looking for.

159. Drexel Dragons – Last Season Ranking: 230

Conference: Colonial

The Dragons survived two long Covid pauses last year to make the NCAA tournament. Drexel had a strong roster and has had one of the better rosters in the league over the last couple of seasons they were just never able to get it done. Drexel shot the ball well from deep and they were good at keeping their opponents off the glass.

Like so many other teams who are built to win in March, Drexel has two fantastic stars and they make their free throws. They shot nearly 80% from the line as a team. That is always going to get it done and is a big factor in postseason play when the games are tighter. The Dragons have a lot of their roster back from last season including star Camren Wynter. They are going to be a favorite in the Colonial.

158. Princeton Tigers – Last Season Ranking: 350

Conference: Ivy League

Former head coach Pete Carril and Princeton will live on forever as they have an offense forever named after them. The Princeton Offense is predicated on ball movement and finding the open man.  Even though Princeton has shied away from the offense that bears their name their impact in the Ivy League is still a big one. The Tigers are the most successful team in the Ivy League and one of the teams with the highest all-time winning percentage.

Even with all that, Princeton still has not made the tournament since 2016. They still have a loaded roster full of talent but much like Brown can they consistently be good enough to beat the top teams in the league over the last ten seasons in Harvard and Yale?  This year, yes! and Jaelin Llewellyn has Ivy Player of the Year ability and he likely finally wins it.

157. Miami (Ohio) Redhawks – Last Season Ranking: 220

Conference: MAC

The Redhawks enter the year as one of the oldest teams in the country. They were already one of the oldest teams a year ago and then every player was given a free year of eligibility due to the pandemic. Miami seemed to be one of the only teams who didn’t lose anyone via transfer.

This year Miami may be one of those teams who step up and surprise us because they are so old and have so much experience playing with each other. The Redhawks were able to finish with their first winning record in a season since 2008-2009. They likely will do the same again this year and senior forward Dalonte Brown will be a huge reason why.

156. Texas State Bobcats – Last Season Ranking: 210

Conference: Sun Belt

The Bobcats finished in the top spot in the Sun Belt standings last year but are still looking for a return trip to the NCAA tournament. Texas State was one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country last year as they shot 38% from deep last year, it’s a shame that Texas State took under 15 threes per game last year. The Bobcats are a team that likes to attack their opponents off the bounce, but they don’t get fouled and they don’t play overly fast.

Head coach Terrence Johnson has all three of his double-digit scorers back from a year ago, so it is likely Texas State will be just as good as they were last year. They are hungry for an NCAA tournament appearance especially after getting bounced in the first game of the league tournament last year. Mason Harrell could be the Sun Belt player of the year and he is an extremely efficient offensive player.

155. Morehead State Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 252

Conference: Ohio Valley

Morehead State had one for the record books last year. They had their best season in school history and made an unexpected run to the NCAA tournament. Heading into the season the Eagles were never in the conversation in the Ohio Valley last year but 19 wins out of their last 20 games put them firmly in the conversation. The defense was unbelievable as they were a great rebounding team and they protected the rim.

Head coach Preston Spradlin believes in hunting for the best possible shot. Morehead State played one of the slowest offensive paces in the country last year. They only took about 53 shots per game, but they made about 50% of all their shots and were a great shooting team from deep. The Eagles are going to be a threat in the Ohio Valley again especially with Player of the Year candidate Johni Broome.

154. Chattanooga Mocs – Last Season Ranking: 142

Conference: Southern

The Southern Conference is loaded at the top and every team at the top of the league has a chance to make a run into the NCAA tournament. Chattanooga is one of those teams that is likely going to be a top-half finisher in the league. The Mocs have three stars who dominate most of the touches and shots in the offense, which if they are having a bad night likely spells doom for Chattanooga but it is unlikely all of them are going to be off on the same night at the same time.

The Mocs were average on offense and average on defense and head coach Lamont Paris went to get his stars some help, plus he is likely going to take the team from average to good in some aspects of the game. He was able to secure two transfers from bigger schools. The transfers are both big men which are something that Chattanooga desperately needed.

The hope is these players are going to take them to the next level and make them a legitimate contender in the Southern Conference. The Mocs star Malachi Smith is one of the better rebounding guards in the country and with a good season has an outside chance to make a push for the conference player of the year.

153. Oral Roberts Golden Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 181

Conference: Summit League

The Golden Eagles were a lot better than the 181st team in the country last year. Oral Roberts had two of the best overall offensive players in the country a season ago and when they were going well were a matchup nightmare for everyone, including power schools as was evidenced by their miraculous run to the NCAA Sweet 16.

Head coach Paul Mills is an offensive genius and his teams are always a nightmare on offense. The Golden Eagles play extremely fast and led the country in made three-pointers and took almost 30 per game. Oral Roberts was very good at the foul line as well and they shot 83% as a team at the line, which was also topped in the country. The Golden Eagles did lose one of their stars, but Max Abmas returns, and he led the country in scoring last year.

152. Grand Canyon Antelopes – Last Season Ranking: 139

Conference: WAC

The first year with Bryce Drew at the helm was a tremendous success. Grand Canyon finally made the NCAA tournament a season ago, and they showed very well giving Iowa all they could handle. This year the Antelopes go back to having the best home-court advantage in the entire conference and some say they have the best home-court advantage on the entire West Coast.

Their student section is awesome, and they get really into the game and make it tough on opponents. The Antelopes lost a lot from last year’s team but were able to replace the lost talent with a lot of power five transfers looking for a fresh start. Grand Canyon will play multiple bigs at the same time, they are one of the only programs in the country that will currently do that. Jovan Blacksher Jr. returns and leads the Antelopes into the season as one of the favorites in the WAC.

151. Northern Kentucky Norse – Last Season Ranking: 217

Conference: Horizon League

The Norse have been one of the top teams in the Horizon League for a good handful of years. Northern Kentucky is always a threat to come out of the league and make the NCAA tournament. The Norse are good from inside the arc but were not great from beyond the arc and they didn’t draw a ton of fouls but still were able to get it done on the offensive end.

Northern Kentucky is a team that doesn’t deviate from the way they play, and they do it well. They also usually have some of the best collection of individual talent in the league. Northern Kentucky has all their key contributors back from last season including 17 point per game scorer Trevon Faulkner.

150. Winthrop Eagles – Last Season Ranking: 129

Conference: Big South

The Eagles were quite a story last year as they were one of the last undefeated teams in the country, had one of the best players in the country, and one of the countries career leaders in triple-doubles. They were also coached by one of the best young coaches in the country. This year they have a new coach, as the old coach moved on to bigger and better things and they did lose their best player but Winthrop still looks to be the best team in the Big South by a wide margin this year.

Winthrop is going to take and make a ton of threes, and they have a lot of good rebounders on the roster. The offense will be wide open with new head coach Mark Prosser, but the defense and the overall efficiency should remain close to the same.  DJ Burns is an absolute monster in the paint, and he returns. He will win the player of the year in the Big South.

149. Kent State Golden Flashes – Last Season Ranking: 145

Conference: MAC

Kent State had a prolific offense last year, but they were outside the top 150 overall in efficiency.  The Golden Flashes were one of the fastest teams in the country last year and they were also one of the best rebounding teams in the country a year ago. They averaged 40 rebounds per game last year. In addition to being one of the best rebounding teams in the country last year, Kent State was in the top 25 from the free throw line.

They were good enough on offense that they could overcome the average defense they played. Kent State shoots a large volume of threes and plays extremely fast, that style of play is something you can recruit to and head coach Rob Senderhoff has proven that it is sustainable. Kent State has always been consistent in the MAC and is always a team to watch out for. They will finish near the top of the MAC again. Sincere Carry, a transfer from Duquesne, is one of the better point guards in the country and has a great chance to win the Player of the Year in the MAC.

148. East Tennessee State Buccaneers – Last Season Ranking: 128

Conference: Southern

The Buccaneers had a great season last year considering that they had a virtually new roster and they were breaking in a new coach. There was a controversy regarding the former coach Jason Shay and he only coached for one year. East Tennessee State is now on their third coach in three seasons, and this new coach, Desmond Oliver has never been a head coach before. He spent the last six seasons with Tennessee, as one of the top assistants for Rick Barnes.

The Buccaneers do have their top players back from a season ago but outside of those two players, they have a lot of freshmen and players who were not part of the program a season ago. It could be a tough season for East Tennessee State overall as the Southern Conference is a tough conference to be rebuilding in. Ledarrius Brewer is the leader of the team and he is good enough to help East Tennessee State win a few games than many expect them not to.

147. Montana Grizzlies – Last Season Ranking: 258

Conference: Big Sky

The Grizzlies were one of the youngest teams in the country last year and got a lot from the underclassman on this roster. Don’t bet on Montana being down for long as head coach Travis DeCurie is a good one. This year is still going to be a slight rebuild as the top of the Big Sky is good and competitive.

Montana is always extremely efficient on the offensive end and they made about 36% of their threes last year. They only took 15 per game but made them count. The Grizzlies were also one of the best free throw shooting teams in the country, shooting almost 80% as a team. Montana has their top three scorers returning including Kyle Owens.

146. Milwaukee Panthers – Last Season Ranking: 318

Conference: Horizon League

The Panthers and head coach Pat Baldwin made quite the splash in the offseason. It just so happens that coach Baldwin has a son who was one of the top-ranked recruits in the country. He was able to secure the commitment of his five-star son and bring in some high-quality grad transfers to round out the roster.

Milwaukee has a lot of height and is going to be able to secure the paint as well as score the ball. Patrick Baldwin Jr. is likely going to be a lottery pick, and with his supporting cast, Milwaukee should be one of the favorites to win the Horizon League.

145. North Dakota State Bison – Last Season Ranking: 209

Conference: Summit League

North Dakota State is slowly turning into that team that is becoming somewhat of an annual power in the Summit League. The Bison finished third in the last year and had lost a lot in the previous season. That speaks to just how well coach David Richman prepares his team every game. North Dakota State yet again played for the Summit League title which would have been their third tournament in the last three years.

The Bison were a great rebounding team, but they were not an overly great defensive team. They never turned their opponents over, only averaging nine turnovers drawn per game and they rarely put their teams on the foul line. They were just sound in their assignments and didn’t miss many of them.

North Dakota State never does anything special, but they are a physical team that tries to slow the game down on offense and tries to get you to play their pace on defense. All five starters return for North Dakota State including center Rocky Kreuser.

144. Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks – Last Season Ranking: 62

Conference: WAC

The Lumberjacks dominated the Southland for the last decade and are now using that success to join the WAC. The first season in a new conference is normally something that I would look at and see growing pains for a team but Stephen F. Austin has such a strong program that it doesn’t appear growing pains are ever going to be a thing with them. Old school basketball is alive and well with the Lumberjacks as they took the second-fewest number of threes in the country with only 14 per game.

They also took most of their shots at the rim and had the second-highest shooting percentage in the country at 57% overall. Since they take so many shots at the rim, Stephen F. Austin got fouled a ton as well and averaged 24 free throws a game. They didn’t shoot them all that well, but their opponents are usually in foul trouble all night. This year head coach Kyle Keller returns a good portion of his production including his star big man. The Lumberjacks don’t have a ton of height, but they don’t need it to play the way they do.

The gap in the WAC has closed and Stephen F. Austin is going to come right in and compete for a spot at the top. Gavin Kensmil returns to lead the Lumberjacks in their first season in the WAC. He is good enough for all-conference honors right away.

143. Bowling Green Falcons – Last Season Ranking: 110

Conference: MAC

The Falcons have an explosive offense and can score in a hurry, they took the second-most shots of anyone in the country a season ago with 67, and 26 of those were from beyond the arc. Even though head coach Michael Huger lost his best player, nothing suggests with the way this roster is made up that Bowling Green is going to change its philosophy now. They try to outscore everyone they play by playing as fast as possible.

The offense could be better if they were to make more threes, even though they took as many as they did, the Falcons were one of the worst shooting teams in the country a season ago. One thing that helped mitigate that was the ability of Bowling Green to rebound and get out in transition. With as fast as they play and as much as they get out in transition, they were not a real efficient team.

If the Falcons can become more efficient, they will likely outscore everyone and see their long NCAA tournament drought come to an end. Daeqwon Plowden returns for his last season and is going to be a breakout player in the MAC.

142. Wright State Raiders – Last Season Ranking: 160

Conference: Horizon League

Statistically, Wright State was the best team in the Horizon last year, however, they didn’t beat Cleveland State when it counted and didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Head coach Scott Nagy is turning his Raiders into a dynasty within the league and this year they look to be good again and are the co-favorites to win the league.

The Raiders were the absolute best defensive rebounding team in the country hauling in 30 defensive rebounds per game and they averaged about 44 per game overall which is good enough for top 5 in the country. They were extremely efficient on the offensive end as well. The Raiders averaged 82 points per game on 48% shooting from the floor overall. Coach Nagy has a luxury that other coaches didn’t have is that he had two legitimate big men who could dominate. This year he does have one of those players back as well as the starting point guard from last season.

Wright State is going to be very good again. The Horizon will be better this year so they may get some competition at the top. Grant Basile is going to be first-team all-conference but has an outside chance to win Horizon player of the year.

141. Rice Owls – Last Season Ranking: 291

Conference: Conference USA

Do you like three-point shots?  Do you like Basketball that is played with pace and wide-open position less basketball?  Then Rice is the team for you. The Owls are likely going to lead the league in three-point attempts, and they may also lead the NCAA in three-point makes as well.

Head coach Scott Pera has built this team from the ground up and Rice is finally ready to make the jump to become a legitimate contender for the NCAA tournament. The Owls backcourt may be the best collective unit in the Conference USA and all of them can shoot from deep. Quincy Olivari is the best of the three guards for Rice.