The Seven Giants of College Basketball

With March Madness only five weeks away, tournament candidates begin their final push for a chance at the title. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the college basketball landscape, 68 teams will still get their chance at winning the title. In the first edition of bracketology 101, the seven best teams will be listed and ranked. Through a combination of NET rankings, Kenpom, and merely inspecting how a team plays, I will rank 80 qualifying teams to their respective category. This week, we will go in-depth about the 7 championship contenders that are sure to be at the top of your bracket.

The Championship Contenders

These teams are the golden boys, the alpha dogs, and the favorites to go all of the way. Above all else, they have the stars to take them to the next level. In addition, this is a group of over-qualified contending teams that have already locked their spot in the tournament. Each team is unique in its way yet, and they are all extremely tough to beat anywhere. Thus, they are the Championship Contenders:

GONZAGA (19-0)

This team is a near-guarantee to make the final four. Along with coach Mark Few, their stars have solidified their spot as not only a number-one seed but possibly as an all-time great. Their rankings prove their worth, too, as they are ranked 1st in the AP and Kenpom and 2nd in NET. But it is their offense that genuinely takes them to a different level. Their senior forward, Corey Kispert, leads them in their offensive explosion. With 19.5 PPG and his unbelievable 48.3% three-point field goal percentage, Gonzaga fails to impact college basketball without him. However, that does not mean he solely carries Gonzaga. Freshman star Jalen Suggs and Sophmore Drew Timme contribute immensely on both sides of the court. Joel Ayayi is no pushover either, as he is arguably their best defensive player. Altogether, this Gonzaga team is a powerhouse, built for the tournament. Prediction: 1-Seed

BAYLOR (17-0)

Baylor may be their name, but constricting defense is their game. Led by the likely All-American Jared Butler, who has 17.0 PPG, and the scrappy point guard, Davion Mitchell, who has 13.6 PPG and 5.8 APG, Baylor has cemented their ability to destroy the opponent team’s will to live. And through, defensive-guru, coach Scott Drew, they have their eyes set on a national championship and nothing else. Also, their rankings reflect their dominance as they are 2nd in AP and Kenpom and 1st in NET. If they continue their authority for the rest of the season, including the BIG12 tournament, they are a lock for a number 1 seed. Prediction: 1-Seed


Despite missing a considerable amount of time due to Covid-19, Michigan has proven to be a basketball powerhouse. Michigan is a fascinating team to the naked-eye. Although they have certain star players like center Hunter Dickinson and forward Isaiah Livers, they do not do anything extraordinary. This unique type of basketball is due to Coach Juwan Howard. Howard’s ability to recruit and create a winning culture at Michigan has significantly changed the program’s outlook. Michigan’s rankings prove this as they are ranked 3rd in the AP, Kenpom, and NET. They will likely be the favorites to win the BIG tournament and thus, easily be a team to force their way through March Madness. Prediction: 1-Seed

OHIO ST. (16-4)

For the preseason shocker, Ohio St is the final championship contender on this list. Despite losing key players Kaleb Wesson, D.J. Carton, and Luther Muhammad, Ohio St. has not only maintained their dominance but improved upon it. Similarly, they have proved that their offense is one for the ages. All of this is possible through coach Chris Holtmann, who has changed Ohio St. into an offensive juggernaut. Along with that, greatly improved players like E.J. Liddell and Duane Washington have kept this team on pace for the title. The rankings agree with this new offensive powerhouse as they are 4th in the AP and 7th in the NET and Kenpom rankings. Altogether, this team can turn some heads this coming month and possibly, have a shot at cutting down the nets. Prediction 1-Seed


Illinois is a very entertaining team to watch. While not known as a basketball school, Illinois has undoubtedly proved their ability to win this season. Potential Naismith award-winner, junior guard Ayo Dosunmu, is the clear superstar. This is verified by his team-leading 21.2 PPG and 5.1 APG, Illinois’ offense and defense operate through Dosunmu. Also, Center Kofi Cockburn is just as crucial to their success as he has an impressive 17.2 PPG and team-leading 1.4 BPG. Through these two players, Illinois recognition in the rankings is more noticeable as they are 4th in the Kenpom and NET and 6th in the AP. Illinois has the evident ability to turn some eyes this coming March. Prediction: 2-Seed

HOUSTON (17-2)

Defense, defense, and some more defense. Just like Baylor, Houston is another team built on playing excellent defense. However, Houston’s defense might be better. Guided by the experienced coach, Kelvin Sampson, Sampson has created a defensive culture at Houston, and it has proven successful. Star guards Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser has led Houston offensively with 16.9 PPG and 15.1 PPG, respectively. In addition, forward Justin Gorham has been a monster in the paint with a whopping 10.1 RPG. The rankings have done them justice as they are 5th in NET, 6th in Kenpom, and 9th in the AP rankings. Thus, Houston has a genuinely good chance at the title, and their defense paves that road. Prediction: 2-Seed


Despite being another team with COVID-19 troubles, Villanova has repeatedly proven that they are a team-to-beat in college ‘basketball. Through the genius coach, Jay Wright, Villanova’s offense has catapulted them to the Big East’s top spot. Also, returning Senior guard Collin Gillespie and Sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl catalyzes this new Villanova squad to a probable Big East title. Their basketball power is evident by where they are ranked, 5th in the AP, 8th in Kenpom, and 9th in the NET rankings. Their one negative is playing defense as they are 109th in opponent PPG. However, if they can improve their defensive abilities, there is no reason we can not see them in the final four and dominate the college basketball world. Prediction: 2-Seed


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