As the most anticipated tournament in America is coming up, everyone wants to know which of the top 25 College Basketball teams will be considered the top contenders to win it all. Let’s take an early look at where some of the top 25 teams stand heading into January and closer to March Madness.
It all starts with their veteran frontcourt which is among the best in the league. It is led by veterans Corey Kispert and Drew Timme. Kispert has been off to a phenomenal start this season shooting 44% from three-point range and scoring 20 points per game. Timme is a great complement to Kispert’s game as he is a force inside and dominates the low post. He is averaging 21 points and 7 rebounds through four games and has seemed to be unstoppable.
Their backcourt is also among the best in the league consisting of a three-man rotation including star freshman Jalen Suggs and stud transfer from Florida, Andrew Nembhard. Jalen Suggs has gotten off to a hot start this season scoring 24 in their opening matchup vs Kansas. This game demonstrated Suggs clear potential as a quick and athletic point guard who could score well while also distributing to Kispert on the wing and Timme in the low post. Guard Andrew Nembhard is going to be the biggest x-factor in Gonzaga’s title run. He was a great starting guard and showed flashes of a star guard when playing for Florida.
If the Gonzaga Bulldogs can utilize Nembhard, and help him reach his maximum potential, Gonzaga will be in a spectacular position to win the College Basketball championship. Gonzaga is the clear favorite right now beating opponents with ease, while also beating good teams like Kansas, Iowa, and West Virginia. If Gonzaga can remain consistent on the court and avoid major injuries they will be the favorite come March.
The Baylor Bears along with Gonzaga have one of the best guard rotations in College Basketball. They are led by their star player, junior, Jared Butler. Jared Butler has been off to a hot start shooting the ball so far this season. He has been shooting an outstanding 50% from the field while also making 46% percent of his threes. Butler is seen by most as a top ten player in the entire NCAA and his head coach, Scott Drew knows he can count on him when he needs a bucket.
Baylor also has many other contributors on the wings to help Jared Butler in Baylor’s title pursuit. MaCio Teague and transfer from Presbyterian Adam Flagler. MaCio Teague and Adam Flagler have been nice additional scorers for Baylor this season, averaging 14 points and 15 respectively.
The only small flaw this Baylor team possesses is their lack of offensive presence down low. They have Mark Vital who is a great defensive player averaging about 8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 1 block. The problem with him, however, is that he is averaging around 6 points so if this team needs a bucket down low they most likely won’t be getting one from him.
Despite Vital’s offensive struggle, they have a backup forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua. He is averaging 10 points and 8 boards while also getting to the free-throw line and making them, this is a good skill for a post player like him to have because it truly can change the result of games when all five players in the game can consistently make their free throws. Tchamwa Tchatchoua is shooting his free throws at 85.7%. Baylor led by their outstanding guard play and solid big men contributions will almost certainly be in the mix come March.
West Virginia Mountaineers
The West Virginia Mountaineers are a team that will not maintain their current ranking. They play in a stacked Big 12 conference with teams like Kansas, Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech. They could even get upset by other solid Big 12 teams like Oklahoma State and Tcu. West Virginia, nonetheless, is still a very good team and has remained competitive in games against good teams like Gonzaga. The West Virginia Mountaineers are led by their star guard, sophomore, Miles Mcbride who is averaging around 15.4 points per game and 4 assists while shooting 45% from the field. Mcbride has progressed from starter to star due to his developed three-point shot. He is shooting 42% from three this year and it has helped develop his game to not only make him a good college player but a solid NBA prospect.
The Mountaineers also have great big men like Derek Culver who is averaging about 13.7 points and 10.6 rebounds. Culver has made a big impact on this team and when he is on the floor he provides a great rebounder and defensive force. They also have another solid big man in Oscar Tshiebwe, who has averaged 8.1 points and 7 rebounds.
Overall, West Virginia has a solid team and having a veteran coach like Bob Huggins certainly helps. But due to the fact that they play in a conference like the Big 12 that is loaded with talent this year, I don’t know if they can even finish top 4 in their conference this season. This doesn’t give me much confidence that they can truly make a run at the NCAA title or maintain their number 7 ranking in the AP top 25.
The Villanova Wildcats coached by Jay Wright look poised to make another deep tournament run. They are led by their starting backcourt of senior, Collin Gillespie, and sophomore, Justin Moore. Gillespie is never the most athletic guy on the floor but his leadership and great shot consistency help Villanova stretch the floor. Collin Gillespie is scoring 14.5 points per game while shooting a very respectable 40.2% from three-point range. His partner in the backcourt Justin Moore also scores well and shoots solid from three. He has been averaging around 13 points while shooting 37 percent from three. This guard tandem is undoubtedly among the best in college basketball.
Their forward tandem of Jeremiah Robinson Earl and Jermaine Samuels is what puts them over the top. Jeremiah Robinson Earl has been their most consistent player and is developing into a great NBA prospect in his sophomore year. He is averaging 16.6 points and 7.6 rebounds this season leading the Villanova Wildcats. Samuels has also been solid averaging 8 points and seven rebounds as a down-low presence.
Villanova has beaten good opponents this year like Texas and Arizona State. This team is truly a force, a team that won’t lift their foot off the gas pedal. Coach Jay Wright has won two NCAA college basketball titles in the past 7 years and this team might be one of the best he’s ever had. This could most definitely be the year that Jay Wright adds a third title to his coaching resume.
The Missouri Tigers are one of the teams in College Basketball that have gotten off to a hot start this season. The Tigers have started 7-0 this season and seem poised to compete for the SEC conference championship. The Missouri Tigers will most likely not maintain this pace to start the season. The Tigers recently had a one-point win against Bradley which wasn’t too encouraging.
The Missouri Tigers have started out hot but the SEC is one of the best conferences. When conference play in the SEC starts it is going to be one of the most competitive conferences. Missouri will face challenges when they face teams like Tennessee, LSU, Arkansas, and even the young, struggling Kentucky Wildcats. Even if they drop in their ranking, they will still be a tournament team come March.
They are led by junior, Xavier Pinson, who is averaging 14.3 points and 4.2 rebounds. He has been the Tigers leading scorer in their two major upset victories. Pinson dropped 22 in a win vs Oregon and 17 in a shocking win vs Illinois. The Tigers also have a veteran playing down low in senior Jeremiah Tilmon. Tilmon has been the Missouri Tigers’ best post player all year averaging 8.2 points and 7.8 rebounds. Overall despite their solid resume that includes wins over Illinois and Oregon. The Missouri Tigers do not look like a team poised to win the title.