If you are ready to rip your bracket to shreds, you aren’t alone. Many teams have been quite disappointing in this bracket, just like every year. Here we’re going to take a look at the top teams that have done well in the tournament, as well as the teams that broke many hearts this season.
*Note: This article was written right before the sweet sixteen round, so some teams may or may not be eliminated by the time that this article is released*
1.University of Kentucky Wildcats
Not many teams have accomplished what Kentucky has this year. They are the only undefeated team in the regular season this year in Division I Men’s Basketball (34-0), and they have one of the best defensive frontcourts in the nation. Big men Willie Cauley-Stein (Junior) and Karl Anthony-Towns (Freshmen) have been outstanding this year, both averaging around 10 points per game, with Cauley-Stein averaging 1.7 blocks per game, while Anthony-Towns averages 2.4. Kentucky is still the clear favorite to win the championship this year. With the best record in the league, they definitely deserve the praise they have received this season.
2. Villanova University Wildcats
And just like that, the first top-seeded team is down, losing to 8th seeded NC State 71-68. The Wildcats had a phenomenal regular season, losing just two games to Georgetown and Seton Hall. Guard Ryan Arcidiacono was also named Co-Big East Player of The Year with Providence guard Kris Dunn. Senior guard Darrun Hilliard also had great a season, averaging 14.3 points per game. Before the tournament had begun, ESPN had ranked Villanova the second best team in the nation, and with an early exit in this year’s tournament, Villanova fans and players must be extremely disappointed with their performance.
3. Wisconsin Badgers
It’s hard to find fault in Wisconsin’s game this year. They ended the season with a 31-3 record, and have so far dominated the west bracket, winning their games by an average of 10.5 points. It also helps when a team has a freak of nature like Frank Kaminsky, a seven foot-tall forward who not only averages 18 points and 8 rebounds per game, but also shoots 40% from the three point line. Kaminsky also won both the Big Ten Player of The Year as well as the Big Ten Tournament MVP in the 2014-15 season. There is no doubt that Wisconsin is a very solid team all around, and it will be tough for anyone to stop them.
4. Duke Blue Devils
It is very difficult to be a bad team when you are coached by basketball genius Mike Krzyzewski. The Blue Devils finished their regular season with a 29-4 record. Even though this isn’t as good as a record as most teams up here, they’re still an outstanding basketball team, and they are showing that in the tournament. Freshman Center Jahlil Okafor has been playing out of his mind lately, scoring 21 points in the first round against Robert Morris, and 26 against San Diego State. With Okafor averaging 18 points and just under 9 rebounds a game, Duke looks like they are ready to make a deep run in the tournament this year.
5. Arizona Wildcats
If anyone could knock off Wisconsin in the west bracket, it would be Arizona. It is possible that those two teams will meet in the elite eight round this year, and if they do, it’ll sure be entertaining. Arizona was given a two seed in the west, and rightfully so. They finished the regular season with a 31-3 record, and they aren’t showing any sign of slowing down. Outstanding Freshman guard Stanley Johnson has averaged 14 points and 6.6 rebounds per game this season, and he is expected to be a top pick in the NBA Draft this year if he decides to leave Arizona. He definitely deserves that praise, leading the Wildcats to a very impressive season. The team as a whole has shot an impressive 48.9 field goal percentage this season, which is 6th in the whole nation. Those numbers usually equate to success, and Arizona is not letting anyone down currently.
6. Virginia Cavaliers
Virginia, like Villanova, wanted people to do terrible things to their brackets. If you’re like me and had them in your finals, you obviously aren’t happy with their performance against Michigan State in the round of 32. They lost in a heartbreaking, 60-54 game where it was close up until the very end. Nonetheless, the Cavaliers had a great regular season, winning 29 out of their 32 games, and having arguably the best defense in the nation. They only allowed 51.5 opponent points per game, which is the best in the entire nation. Those numbers are astounding, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. Some say defense wins championships, and the university of Virginia is here to tell them otherwise.
Gonzaga looks like the best team in the league on paper. They are first in field goal percentage in the nation (52.4%), and second overall in defensive rebounding (27.6 per game). That being said, they have one of the easiest schedules out of all of the teams on the list. The Bulldogs are in the West Coast Conference, which consist of no ranked teams besides Gonzaga. In fact, Gonzaga is the only team in the West Coast Conference that even made the tournament. Even though Gonzaga lost only two games this regular season, they only played two ranked teams and lost to one (Arizona). As good as Gonzaga looks on paper, many people are not sold on them going far in the tournament, and with good reason.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame has been very hot lately. They haven’t lost a game since February 24th against Syracuse, and have beaten top teams like Duke and North Carolina in the mean time. They won the ACC tournament, which has proven to be one of the most talented conferences in the nation. While only winning their games in the tournament by 3.5 points, The Fighting Irish are still very talented, and at some point they will find a way to win games by a larger margin. With the second best shooting percentage in the league (51%), Notre Dame has had a lot of success this season, and have a good shot at winning even more games in the tournament.
9. Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State made many people very frustrated this season. They lost in the first round to UAB by just one point. Many had the Cyclones going very deep in this tournament, some even predicting them to make the finals, but unfortunately that was not the case. Being a three seed in the south bracket, it seemed almost impossible that they would lose to a team like UAB. Iowa State finished their season with a 29-5 record, and played with great ball movement, finishing 11th in the nation in assists per game (16.2). They did however, let teams score an average of 69 points per game, 248th in the nation. Teams simply can’t win with a defense like that, and unfortunately for Iowa State, they lived up to that statement.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Finishing off our list are the Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas, along with Virginia, was a two seed and lost in the round of 32. Their play can be described as dismal in their final game of the season, losing 78-65 to seventh seeded Wichita State. The Jayhawks finished their season 27-9, and didn’t necessarily excel in the stat sheet. As good as they were this season, they only scored an average of 71.2 points per game (80th in the nation), and allowed 64.8 points per game (130th in the nation). Kansas unfortunately did not enjoy the kind of success that they did last season, and no one is very surprised that the Jayhawks did not go incredibly far in the tournament.