The NFL season has officially wrapped up, which means it is time to look forward to the next great sporting event of the year: March Madness.
If you have been focused on football or the NBA, you may not know much about the top college teams in the country. With a little more than a month until the Big Dance, here is a quick breakdown of the best teams in the nation.
The No. 1 team in both the AP poll and the USA Today coaches poll is the Tennessee Volunteers with a record of 20-1. The Volunteers have not been an elite team in recent years by any measure, but they are led by a solid group of upperclassmen. They boast the best player in the Southeastern Conference (SEC): third-year forward Grant Williams, last season’s SEC Player of the Year. Williams is averaging 20 points and eight rebounds per game on an efficient 58 percent from the field. He is joined by fourth-year player Admiral Schofield, a hefty guard who can get to the rim and knock down a three. As a whole, Tennessee is an extremely well coached team with one of the best offenses in the country. According to kenpom.com, the Volunteers have the second best offense in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency, a measure of a team’s points per 100 possessions adjusted for the opponent. Undoubtedly the Volunteers will be a contender in the NCAA Tournament.
The Duke Blue Devils are ranked second in both polls, just behind Tennessee. Chances are you have watched them on TV, since ESPN airs almost every one of their games. From both an entertainment and basketball perspective, Duke is as good as it gets. They arguably have the two best players in the country with first-year guard RJ Barrett and first-year forward Zion Williamson, who average 23 and 22 points a game respectively. Plus, they have two more skilled first-year players in Cam Reddish and Tre Jones. They definitely have the most talented team in the country, but with Williamson’s freak athleticism and immense size (6’7”, 285 lbs.), they are the most fun to watch as well. The analytics back them up as well, with the team ranking fourth in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency.
Ranked No. 3, you most likely remember the Virginia Cavaliers for becoming the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Although Virginia has many of the same players, they are a much better team. Their only loss this season came at Duke by two points. Per usual, the Cavaliers have lockdown defense; unsurprisingly, they have the best defense according to kenpom.com. What is not expected of a Virginia team, though, is a capable offense. This year, they have that missing piece: the fifth best offense in the nation analytically. Indeed, this team has the offensive weapons to make a deep tourney run, unlike last year. Their staple motion offense and pack-line defense may not be fun to watch, but this season it is stifling opponents. After a disappointing performance last season, don’t be shocked if the Cavaliers make a run to the Final Four and even the championship game.