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NCAA Basketball: Biggest storylines for each current top-25 team for rest of 2023-24

Feb 22, 2024; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love (2) celebrates after scoring a
Feb 22, 2024; Tucson, Arizona, USA; Arizona Wildcats guard Caleb Love (2) celebrates after scoring a / Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
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15. Baylor Bears - Missi/Walter the ultimate x-factor

Baylor is one of the most balanced teams in NCAA Basketball when it comes to offensive potency, having six double-digit scorers on the season. Two of them are true freshmen, leading scorer Ja’Kobe Walter (14.8 ppg), as well as forward Yves Missi (11.0 ppg and 5.6 rpg). When they play well, the Bears are hard to beat. But in the COVID-scholarship era with lots of older players, it’s going to be a risk to rely on them to consistently play well in March.

14. Alabama Crimson Tide - Defensive improvements

The Tide has the No. 1 scoring offense in NCAA Basketball to this point with 91.1 ppg, which is why they’re first in the SEC standings. However, they’re also in the bottom 25 in scoring defense with 78.9 ppg, including giving up a whopping 117 points in a loss to Kentucky. No matter how offensively potent they are, the defense, without improvements, is doomed to let them down in March.

13. Illinois Fighting Illini - Late-game struggles an issue

With Terrence Shannon Jr. back, Illinois was supposed to go on a run and solidify itself as a national contender. But while they have been mostly winning, it’s been far from overly impressive. The Illini have given up 80+ points in 5 of the last 6 games, including to non-conference teams like Iowa and Penn State. And they’ve been particularly weak at holding leads, with that Penn State disaster being of note. They’ll have to figure that out soon or else an early exit in March is coming.