The regular season is over and while it’s easy to look at some of the best players from the regular season, it is much more fun to look forward to who will be the best players in the NCAA Tournament. These player rankings will be done a bit differently than what a regular ranking would look like, it is looking more ahead at performance for the NCAA Tournament than looking back for this regular-season. As that is the case, some of the player rankings might come out as being a bit funky. The deeper the run, the higher the rankings and ultimately the goal is to have these rankings, solely based on Tournament performances. Let’s dive into the rankings.
1.Ayo Dosumnu – Illinois
Best player, best team? Maybe not, but Ayo Dosumnu has been nothing short of spectacular this season. He’s a gifted scorer, shooter, passer, that plays his best basketball in the clutch. Add that to the fact that Illinois is set up to make a Final Four run, and he’s probably the player best fit to have a Kemba Walker-like run.
2.Jalen Suggs – Gonzaga
Was Jalen Suggs the best player on his own team? No, but he’s the player I would say that is most likely to win the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. Suggs is inconsistent but if you look at his performances, he plays his best against the best teams. He’s a big game hunter that is set up to have a big Tournament, while potentially leading the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA Championship.
3.Jared Butler – Baylor
Again, I’m to go with the best player on a likely Final Four team, shocker. Butler is an All-Around great player, he’s good defensively, he’s a great scorer/ shooter, and can run the show. He’s not the most flashy player but he’ll be the key for the Bears as they look to bring Scott Drew his first Final Four and National Championship.
4.Corey Kispert – Gonzaga
Corey Kispert has been the best player on Gonzaga this season and he has a very realistic shot at winning the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. Kispert is an outstanding shooter and scorer that is more than capable of dropping 30 on anyone. Look for him to continue to dominate while potentially leading the Bulldogs to their first-ever National Championship.
5.Cade Cunningham – Oklahoma State
If Illinois is going to go out before the Final Four, it will likely be a loss against Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State. Cade Cunningham is everything you could want in a guard, his only weakness is that at times he’s too unselfish, which is a good trait to have. Expect Cade Cunningham to be extremely exciting while helping Oklahoma State to achieve high levels of success.
6.Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza is going to be the National Player of the year but I just don’t see Iowa making a Final Four run, which is why I will put him a bit lower on the list. Garza will no doubt put up ridiculous stats but I don’t see Iowa making the Final Four, which is why he’s only fifth on the list.
7.Davion Mitchell – Baylor
The potential National Defensive Player of the year will look to set the tone for the Bears on both ends of the ball. Mitchell is a ballhawk who will give opposing guards fits while being a good enough scorer and facilitator to be considered the best two-way guard in College Basketball. Look for Mitchell to have a big tournament while leading Baylor to a historical tournament run.
8.Drew Timme – Gonzaga
The third of the three-headed monster of Gonzaga is Drew Timme. Timme is the Bulldogs lone and best low-post player, he’s not overly big but has great post moves and scores with ease. Timme will be relied upon to score on the interior, allowing the rest of the perimeter to open up, which will be needed for the Bulldogs to win it all.
9.Herb Jones – Alabama
Alabama is a legitimate Final Four contender and the best player on the Crimson Tide is Herb Jones. Jones is a Draymond Green-like player in that he’s a bigger player that runs the show for Alabama while defending at a high-level. Look for Jones to be extremely valuable while leading Alabama to success, similar to the level of success in their football program.
10.Miles McBride – West Virginia
Some know this guard as Deuce McBride, others call him Miles McBuckets, either way, he’s a gifted scorer. McBride is an efficient lead guard that can score, shoot and pass at an effective rate. Look for McBride to have a big tournament while trying to lead the Mountaineers to the Final Four for the first time since 2010.
11.James Bouknight – Uconn
Uconn guards are known for performing their best on the biggest stage and this year’s candidate to lead the Huskies on a deep run is James Bouknight. Bouknight is a star that has a great scoring ability, mixed with good size and elite athleticism. Look for Bouknight to play big and if Uconn can make a deep run, he can add his name to an elite list of guards.
12.Kofi Cockburn – Illinois
Kofi Cockburn is this year’s overly large big man that is impossible to guard. At 7’1 and 290 pounds, Kofi is such a tough guard and a valuable piece for the Illini, because no team can really play him one-on-one in the post. Look for Cockburn to have a major impact for an Illinois team capable of winning it all.
13.Hunter Dickinson – Michigan
No Isaiah Livers, maybe some problems. The Wolverines have lost their leader in minutes but fortunately, they still have Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is a 7’0 big man that can score in the post with the best of them. If the Wolverines make a run, it will be because teams will struggle to guard Dickinson on the interior.
14.Quentin Grimes – Houston
The second-seeded Cougars are looking to have success not seen since the Hakeem Olajuwon era. Grimes is a good overall offensive player that can score at a high-level. Look for Grimes to have a big Tournament while looking to lead the Cougars to the Final Four.
15.Moses Moody – Arkansas
The Razorbacks have had an exciting season where they finished second in the SEC and a big reason is because of Moses Moody. Moody is a great scorer that is more than capable of leading the Razorbacks on a Final Four run.
16.Evan Mobley – USC
Evan Mobley is one of the more interesting rankings because it’s interesting to see where the Trojans go. Mobley is capable of leading this Trojans team towards an Elite Eight run, but they could go round one. The Trojans’ Tournament run essentially depends solely on how good Mobley is.
17.EJ Liddell – Ohio State
The Buckeyes are one of the best offensive teams in the sport and EJ Liddell is their star player. Liddell is a versatile forward that is a mismatch because of his physicality and guard-like skills. For an Ohio State team looking to make a deep run, Liddell will need to continue playing high-level basketball.
18.MaCio Teague – Baylor
The Bears’ third-best player is still one of the best guards in College Basketball. Teague is a good shooter and scorer that is also very good defensively. Look for him to continue to knock down shots and be a valuable piece on a Baylor team looking to win a National Championship.
19.Matt Coleman – Texas
The Maui Invitational and Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding player is looking to add some more awards by making a deep run. Coleman is a good shooter, facilitator and is the clear team leader on this talented team. Texas could lose in the first round or make the Final Four and neither would surprise me. For the former to take place, Coleman will need to have a great Tournament.
20.Jason Preston – Ohio
There might not be a more fun mid-major player than Jason Preston. Preston is a great scorer, passer, and defender that plays with flash and skill that makes him the most exciting player in his pod. I think Ohio is a legitimate second-weekend team and it will be because of Preston’s stardom.
21.Ochai Agbaji – Kansas
Covid concerns and overall lack of talent make Kansas an interesting team capable of losing early or making a run. For them to make that run, I think Ochai Agbaji needs to shoot the ball at a high-level. Look for him to catch fire and at least help them advance somewhat far in the NCAA Tournament.
22.Cameron Krutwig – Loyola-Chicago
Loyola-Chicago made a Final Four run led by Krutwig inside in 2018 and for them to make a run this year it will be on his back. I think he’ll have a big game in the first round while his play will at least make things tough for the Illini.
23.Trevion Williams – Purdue
Purdue is always a good team and their big physical forward, Trevion Williams. Williams will have the size and athleticism to match up and dominate every game he plays in. Look for Williams to have a good few games while making Purdue a second-weekend team once again.
24.Alex Barcello – BYU
BYU is a very underrated team capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament and Alex Barcello is their team leader. Barcello is a good scorer, shooter, and floor-general, who will be looking to lead the Cougars to a run. I look for him to have a big game in the play-in game, while the Cougars are more than capable of winning multiple upsets.
25.MJ Walker – Florida State
The Seminoles are a potential Final Four threat, yet they do not have any star players. Walker is their best offensive weapon, granted he’s somewhat inconsistent. If he gets hot, Florida State is capable of making the Final Four for the first time in the Leonard Hamilton era.
26.JaQuori McLaughlin – UC Santa Barbara
Of all the 12 seeds out there, UCSB is the team that I think is most likely to pull the 12-5 upset. A large reason for that is the play of JaQuori McLaughlin, who is an elite guard. Look for McLaughlin to have a big game against Creighton in an upset, while he could help them go to the second weekend as well.
27.Franz Wagner – Michigan
Despite losing Livers, Michigan is still a team capable of making a Final Four run, and a large reason why is Franz Wagner. Wagner is an excellent overall player that can score and defend at a high level. If the Wolverines do make a run, it will be because of Wagner stepping up and playing valuable minutes in place of Livers.
28.Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – Villanova
Is Jeremiah Robinson-Earl better than the 28th best player in the sport? Probably but this is just an indication of how far Villanova can go. JRE should have a good game against Winthrop but they’ll have trouble winning that game, and they aren’t making it past round two, which is why I think his impact in the dance will be limited.
29.Chandler Vaudrin – Winthrop
Chandler Vaudrin is the do-it-all guard for a Winthrop team capable of winning multiple games in the NCAA Tournament. Vaudrin is a 6’7 guard that scores, passes, and defends at an elite level. Look for him to have a couple of big games in the NCAA Tournament, while the Eagles have Sweet 16 upside.
30.McKinley Wright IV – Colorado
McKinley Wright has been around for a while but this is his first NCAA Tournament and he should step up. Wright is an elite floor general, who can score from all over the court. His best will be needed for the Buffaloes to win in the NCAA Tournament, his team is solid but I have my doubts about whether they can make a run.
31.Chris Duarte – Oregon
The Oregon Ducks have a lot of really good options offensively so it is hard to narrow it down to one, that said Duarte is the leader of the team. Duarte is an elite scorer that is capable of putting his Ducks on his back and leading them to a second weekend. In a program with guards like Tyler Dorsey, Dillion Brooks, and Payton Pritchard, Duarte will look to be the next Ducks guard to lead them to March success.
32.Marcus Zegarowski – Creighton
Rounding out the 32 best players in the NCAA Tournament list is Creighton guard Marcus Zegarowski. Zegarowski is a good floor general lead guard that can score, pass and shoot at a high level. I think he’s another player that I think will go out early in the Tournament, therefore lowering his ranking.