The NCAA Tournament puts the best players in college basketball on the biggest stage. We choose the best player from each team and rank them all.
The March to Friday and the Round of 64 seems like it’s crawling as slow as molasses. Of course, we get four great games Thursday night, but the pure task of picking a bracket is what signifies the start of March Madness. With that, we know it’s real.
This year, there is as much talent as ever that will make it feel that real. From Luka Garza to Jason Preston, the storylines are everywhere and from Evan Mobley to James Bouknight, the NBA prospectus is there too. And because of that, we can’t have just a bracket of teams. Sorting through the top players on each team to come up with the best, 68-1 just seems like the right sports journalistic thing to do.
68. Kolton Kohl (Abilene Christian)
Stats: 12.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 54% FG
Kohl is a talented 7-foot, 240-pound big man with the ability to finish down low. The issue is, he’s not a fantastic passer, and doesn’t rebound well for his size. But if the Wildcats can pound it inside and Kohl can finish, he can score 15-20 points against Texas.
67. Adrian Delph (Appalachian State)
Stats: 13.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Delph is a junior who has a chance to be one of the best mid-major players in college hoops next season. He’s improved each year and can knock down threes at a fairly high clip. Delph does struggle with efficiency, at just over 40.5% from the field.
66. Jalen Gibbs (Mount Saint Mary’s)
Stas: 16.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 42.3% 3P
Gibbs is one of the top three-point shooters in this tournament, knocking down almost three trifectas per game. He also plays solid defense and gets to the free-throw line well. The problem for Gibbs is the pure talent in this entire tournament.
65. Devante Carter (Norfolk State)
Stats: 15.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG
Carter is a complete player and is very efficient from the field. But as a 6-foot-3 guard, he can’t knock down threes and is turnover prone. But if he can hold on to the ball, Carter can make plays.
64. Traci Carter (Hartford)
Stats: 11.7 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.6 SPG
Carter is one of, if not the best defenders in the entire tournament. He’s a sixth-year player who had experience in the Big East with Marquette and at La Salle. His teammate Austin Williams is more of the go-to scorer, but Carter’s defense is beyond noteworthy.
63. Torrey Patton (Cleveland State)
Stats: 14.9 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.7 RPG
Patton is a guard who rebounds as well as anyone his size in this tournament. But he doesn’t pose a huge threat from three and coughs up the ball a fairly good amount. He’s got experience – Patton spent his freshman year with Akron. But there are better scorers in this tournament. Nonetheless, put him on double-double alert against Houston.
62. Camren Wynter (Drexel)
Stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.3 APG, 42.5% 3P
If there’s one 16-seed that’ll prove to be dangerous for at least one half, it’ll be Drexel. And the reason will be Camren Wynter. He’s a flat-out scorer who gets his guys involved and knocks down threes with ease. He is turnover prone, but given he has the ball in his hands at all times, it’s not too big of a cause for concern.
61. Michael Weathers (Texas Southern)
Stats: 16.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 2.2 SPG
Weathers is a transfer from Oklahoma State and is the complete package for Texas Southern Tigers. He can score, pass, and defends well above average. He’s not the best shooter from deep, but Weathers will score points and make plays.
60. Tanner Groves (Eastern Washington)
Stats: 16.4 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.0 BPG
Groves is a tough big-man who’s not afraid of contact. He also has some range and is good for about one three a game. He can get in foul trouble, but as long as he’s on the court, Eastern Washington has a gem.
59. Darius McGhee (Liberty)
Stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 41.3% 3P
McGhee is the best shooter on a Liberty team full of scorers. He hits threes at a really good percentage, which is even crazier considering he shoots eight per game. McGhee is good with the ball and gives Oklahoma State a tough first-round matchup.
58. Johni Broome (Morehead State)
Stats: 13.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.8 BPG
The first freshman on this list and for good reason. Broome has 13 double-doubles on the season, with his best game coming in the OVC Championship, putting up numbers of 27 points and 12 rebounds against 1-seed Belmont. Broome will give West Virginia all they can handle.
57. JaQuori McLaughlin (UC Santa Barbara)
Stats: 16.2 PPG, 5.2 APG, 1.6 SPG
McLaughlin simply has no flaws. He’s a transfer from Oregon State who took his experience with the Beavers and has elevated the Gauchos. McLaughlin leads them in points, assists, and three-point percentage. He also averages 1.6 steals, showing that he doesn’t take a play off.
56. John Fulkerson (Tennessee)
Stat: 9.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.7 APG
Tennessee is one of those teams that are really, really good, but doesn’t exactly boast a star player. Fulkerson was that last season, and even though his numbers have dipped down, he’s still the heart and soul of this team and makes plays from the low block.
55. Javion Hamlet (North Texas)
Stats: 14.9 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.3 RPG
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) March 14, 2021
Hamlet’s game is underrated, given the entire C-USA has been just that all season. He’s a combo-guard that can get into the lane, hit jump shots, and open up the whole floor. He’s one of the top mid-major players in this tournament.
54. ShanQuan Hemphill (Drake)
Stats: 14.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 58.7% FG
Hemphill is still battling a nagging injury, but if he can suit up on Thursday, he’s Drake’s best player. Hemphill’s efficient shooting is his best quality, but he also rebounds well for an undersized forward and defends. He’ll need to against Wichita State.
53. Aamir Simms (Clemson)
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 2.7 APG
Simms is as versatile a player in the Big Dance. He has post moves and can body up down low, but also passes extremely well for a 6-foot-8, 245-pound big man. He also has a really good shot from behind the arc. At times he can be passive, but his calmness to the game seems to help the Tigers flow.
52. Asbjorn Midtgaard (Grand Canyon)
Stats: 14.0 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 70.6% FG
70.6% from the field. That’s how good Midtgaard is. He snags rebounds to average a double-double and when he’s inside, it’s over for whoever tries to defend him. This has all blossomed from a former Wichita State Shocker who only saw about eight minutes per game last season.
51. Osun Osunniyi (St. Bonaventure)
Stats: 10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2.9 BPG
Osunniyi may not be the Bonnies’ go-to guy. In fact, Kyle Lofton is arguably their best player. But the impact the big man brings for the 9-seed is the biggest part of this team. He has post moves but clears the glass as well as Kofi Cockburn. Defensively, Osunniyi’s a stud, averaging close to three blocks per outing.
50. Micah Potter (Wisconsin)
Stats: 12.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 50.6% FG
Don’t let Potter’s stats fool you – he only plays about 20 minutes per game on one of the deepest teams in America and still averages almost 13 points. I could’ve gone with D’Mitrik Trice, but Potter’s a good choice as well on a Wisconsin team that has it all.
49. Tyger Campbell (UCLA)
Stats: 10.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 1.1 SPG
Campbell isn’t nearly the top scoring option for the Bruins, but he is the head of the offense and is one of the better true point guards in March Madness. He’s had a season-high of 12 assists and can score when he needs to. 22 points at Arizona is tied for Campbell’s season-high.
48. Alex Barcello (BYU)
Stats: 15.9 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.7 RPG
Barcello is another one of those dangerous players who can score, put also makes his teammates better. He finished tied with Jalen Suggs for third in the WCC in assists per game and will look to try and make his impact felt in the NCAA Tournament with a potential game against either UCLA or Michigan State.
47. Isaiah Ross (Iona)
Stats: 18.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 39.1% FG
Ross one of the best scorers in the entire tournament and will Alabama all they can handle. He can hit shots from anywhere on the court and does so at a high percentage. Ross does turn over the ball nearly three times a game, but take that with a grain of salt if he goes off for 25 or 30 points.
46. Jahvon Blair (Georgetown)
Stats: 15.8 PPG, 3.7 APG, 35.1% 3P
Blair is the catalyst of a Hoyas team that’s as hot as anyone in the country right now. He can knock down threes and is aggressive on the drive. Blair can get other guys involved as well and has a knack for hitting clutch shots.
45. MJ Walker (Florida State)
Stats: 13.0 PPG, 2.4 APG, 44.4% 3P
Walker is a coach’s dream. He handles the ball and makes tough shots, but also hits from deep at an extremely high rate. He does have a turnover problem, but he brings leadership to a dangerous Seminoles squad.
44. Aaron Wiggins (Maryland)
Stats: 14.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Half of the impressive guard tandem is Aaron Wiggins (Eric Ayala is the other). Wiggins is a slasher who rebounds well and defends. He’s an athletic wing who can get his shot off over most guards and brings experience to a Terps team that lost a lot of players last offseason. The NCAA Tournament could be his national breakout.
43. Dru Smith (Missouri)
Stats: 14.1 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.5 RPG
If there’s any team that got screwed in this year’s bracket, Missouri has that case. Dru Smith is the Tigers’ best player and is a gamer. He had 18 points in a win over Illinois back in December and 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists in Missouri’s dub over Alabama. March Madness brings out the stars and Smith should shine.
42. Tyson Etienne (Wichita State)
Stats: 17.0 PPG, 2.6 APG, 40.0% 3P
Not to be confused with Clemson football stud Travis Etienne, Tyson’s made quite the name for himself. The sophomore scores 17 points a game and does that with a really good three-point shot. He’s scored 29 twice and has the potential to torch Drake in the ‘First Four’.
41. Armando Bacot (North Carolina)
Stats: 12.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 62.7% FG
Bacot is a bruiser inside and will finish through contact more often than not. He’ll be tested against a tough Wisconsin frontcourt, but if UNC wins, it’ll be in large part because of him.
40. Sam Hauser (Virginia)
Stats: 16.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 43.4% 3P
Sam Hauser is the purest three-point shooter in this NCAA Tournament. He would be higher, but his game is 80% focused on making treys. While that’s not a bad thing – it should get Hauser a serious look in the NBA – it’s not going to put him above guys who can make shots and plays. But as far as putting up points and making shots, Hauser is top 25 in this entire tournament.
39. Nah’Shon Hyland (VCU)
Stats: 19.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 SPG
The man they call ‘Bones’ is just 6-foot-3 and 165 pounds. But where he lacks in size, he makes up for in his game. Hyland is an NBA prospect who can score from all three levels and on anyone who tries to defend him. He creates havoc on defense, and if VCU gets past a tough Oregon Ducks team, no one on Iowa will be able to seriously guard him.
38. Jordan Burns (Colgate)
Stats: 17.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 42.2% 3P
Burns is my favorite of the high mid-major players and is a big reason why many people are picking a Colgate upset over Arkansas. He’s a small guard that can create his own shot and hit from anywhere over halfcourt. Burns also snags over four rebounds a game, which is incredible for his stature.
37. Mac McClung (Texas Tech)
Stats: 15.7 PPG, 2.2 APG, 33.3% 3P
The high-flying fan favorite from Gate City, Virginia is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time! While McClung is inefficient and doesn’t add much to the rebounding category, he is super fun to watch and has the type of ego that can win games at the end.
36. Ethan Thompson (Oregon State)
Stats: 15.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, 1.3 SPG
Ethan Thompson is Oregon State’s heart and soul and for good reason. He’s a bucket, averaging over 15 points a game, plays both sides of the ball, and finds teammates at a good rate, good for T-5 in assists in the Pac-12.
35. Buddy Boeheim (Syracuse)
Stats: 17.1 PPG, 1.3 SPG, 37.3% 3P
Not the typical coach’s son, Buddy Boeheim would start for most teams in the country. The three-point specialist is in the hottest streak of his career – averaging 29 points across his last two games. If he can continue that against San Diego State, the Aztecs will be in trouble.
34. Matt Mitchell (San Diego State)
Stats: 15.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG
Speaking about the Aztecs, here’s Matt Mitchell! A four-year starter, Mitchell brings his experience in all parts of the game. He can score, rebound, and is one of the best defenders in the Big Dance.
33. John Petty Jr. (Alabama)
Stats: 12.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 37.4% 3P
Petty could be higher on this list, but Bama got some guys to step up and make it more than just a one-man show. But even with that, he’s who the Crimson Tide wants to have the ball when the game is on the line and will make great plays time after time.
32. Tre Mann (Florida)
Stats: 16.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.4 APG
After Keyontae Johnson’s unfortunate season-ending conditions, Tre Mann had to step up for the Gators. He’s had four consecutive 20 point games with his last outing against Tennessee going for 30. Mann will go up against the Virginia Tech Hokies in round one as he tries to make it five straight.
31. Aaron Henry (Michigan State)
Stats: 15.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 3.5 APG
Henry is another one of those Spartans’ players that might not score 20 points every game but will fill up the stat sheet with everything else. He chips in a block and a steal each game and can guard positions two through four.
30. Keve Aluma (Virginia Tech)
Stats: 15.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.2 APG
Talk about a matchup nightmare, Aluma will be that for Florida on Friday afternoon. Aluma’s an experienced and well-sized big who can also pass. It’s his first year with the Hokies after sitting out one from transfer rules, but he’s made his impact felt and was one of the top players in the ACC all year.
29. Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers)
Stats: 15.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 45.6% FG
Big shot Ron is a tough Rutgers guard that’s been able to get the Scarlet Knights on a map they’ve not often traveled. Don’t let those stats fool you either – Harper started the season as hot as anyone, scoring 26 or more in four of his first six games. He cooled off a bit in the mid-season but did have 21 points and three steals against Illinois, so maybe that’ll carry over.
28. Marcus Garrett (Kansas)
Stats: 10.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, 1.6 SPG
Garrett is the unofficial top defender in power-conference college basketball. He WILL guard the best player on every opposing team, as long as it’s not a big man. But he also creates offense and can score some points. Garrett’s impact is felt far beyond his stats show.
27. Neemias Queta (Utah State)
Stats: 15.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.2 BPG
The best big man you’ve never heard of. If Utah State makes a Cinderella Run – which I fully expect them to, it’s because of Queta. He’s a 7-foot, 245-pound tank who blocks over three shots a game. Queta also passes well beyond the average skill for bigs, at 2.5 assists a game. He’s a matchup nightmare for anyone.
26. McKinley Wright IV (Colorado)
Stats: 15.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 4.3 RPG
One of the best all-around players in power-conferences college basketball, Wright is a handful to guard. He takes it hard to the cup and can back it up with a good enough three-point shot. But he’s most dangerous in creating open shots for other guys and leading the break with his quickness and playmaking.
25. Chandler Vaudrin (Winthrop)
Stats: 12.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 6.9 APG
Vaudrin is a triple-double waiting to explode. He mans a Winthrop team that’s lost only once all season long and has put up some of the best stat lines of anyone this season. Three triple-doubles including a 13 point, 14 rebound, 11 assist outing has Villanova feared for that first-round matchup.
24. E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
Stats: 15.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.1 BPG
On a team with so many good players, Liddell still finds a way to post some pretty incredible stats. He also improved his range from last season, and given his size, can use the pump fake to create space when driving to the basket.
23. Max Abmas (Oral Roberts)
Stats: 24.4 PPG, 3.7 APG, 43.8% 3P
Abmas is the easy choice for the best bucket getter in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He’s scored over 30 points on seven different occasions, including a high of 42 against South Dakota State. But Abmas is also a gifted passer, which is perhaps his most underrated trade.
22. Trevion Williams (Purdue)
Stats: 15.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.1 APG
Trevion Williams is the sole reason Purdue is in the position they are. He’s one of the toughest guys to match up against in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Williams’s numbers have gone up every single year, and he should be top ten on this list next March.
21. Austin Reaves (Oklahoma)
Stats: 17.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
Reaves took over from Brady Manek as the Sooners’ top dog. There’s been no question that he’s done an incredible job. He makes shots from all over the place and is deadly from the free-throw line. Perhaps his biggest downfall is having to play in the 8v9 game where the winner gets Gonzaga, but at least he’ll get to show what he’s worth against the best team.
20. Jason Preston (Ohio)
Stats: 16.6 PPG, 7.2 APG, 6.8 RPG
From averaging two points as a senior on his varsity high-school team, Preston could be this year’s Ja Morant in the NCAA Tournament. The Ohio guard is crafty, quick, and athletic. He’ll be the best player on the court against Virginia, which should have Cavaliers fans a bit nervous.
19. Matt Coleman III (Texas)
Stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.1 APG, 1.2 SPG
Coleman probably has some of the worst stats for a guard ranked this high, but don’t overthink it. He’s one of the clutches players in the tournament and the leader for a 3-seed that many people have going to the Final Four. Not to mention, he’s a senior, and that always bodes well come March.
18. Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)
Stats: 14.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.4 BPG
Dickinson’s putting up those numbers while shooting 60% from the floor as a freshman on a 1-seed. And with Isaiah Livers out, Dickinson may be close to some 20-point double-doubles. He could be a one-and-done, but Michigan fans should live in the moment because he’s a heck of a talent.
17. Chris Duarte (Oregon)
Stats: 16.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 43% 3P
Duarte was named as an AP Third-Team All American and there’s no denying how he got there. He’s arguably the most efficient scorer from all four levels in college basketball, passes well, rebounds, and is smart with the ball. He’ll be an NBA prospect, but before that, has a chance to lead Oregon back to the Sweet 16.
16. Marcus Zegarowski (Creighton)
Stats: 15.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.7 RPG
Zeg’s stats were lower than expected, but it’s what you get when you play on a team that has four or five guys who can go off for 20 points on any given night. But if you could bet on any of those, Marcus would be the first choice. He’s a leader, big shot taker, and looks to guide Creighton deep into the tournament.
15. Isaiah Miller (UNC Greensboro)
Stats: 19.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 4.0 APG
Miller is THE BEST player on any double-digit seed. Hands down. He can get you 20, pull down 10 rebounds, and even dish out seven or eight assists. Miller averages 2.6 takeaways per game which is also top ten in the country. Slowing him down is like trying to stop a freight train with faulty breaks – it ain’t happening.
14. Miles McBride (West Virginia)
Stats: 15.4 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.8 SPG
‘Deuce’ does it all for West Virginia and really has a case as the better on-ball defender than Marcus Garrett. But even if he’s not, his scoring makes up for it, making McBride a duel threat.
13. Moses Wright (Georgia Tech)
Stats: 17.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.6 BPG
The ACC Player of the Year, Wright is one of the most gifted bigs as far as scoring the basketball goes. He had one game against Syracuse where he dropped 31 points and 16 rebounds – not to be outdueled by 31 and 19 in a win over Georgia State.
12. Cameron Krutwig (Loyola Chicago)
Stats: 15.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 3.0 APG
It’s Krutwig’s senior year and he’s trying to get back to the Final Four. He sure has the team to do it with and of course, he’s a big reason why. He doesn’t have a three-point range, but he is one of the toughest players to guard in the paint.
11. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova)
Stats: 15.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 1.9 APG
The robin to Collin Gillespie, Robinson-Earl must be the batman for Nova to succeed as their point guard suffered a season-ending knee injury. Even with Gillespie, Robinson-Earl was a top-15 talent, but now, he’ll have to play like he’s top-5 if the Wildcats want to make another run in March.
10. Cameron Thomas (LSU)
Stats: 22.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 APG
Thomas almost always falls under the radar of the great freshmen in college basketball. Of course, Cade Cunningham takes most of that limelight, but don’t overlook Thomas. He’s as good as a bucket as anyone in March Madness and leads an LSU team that has two other great scorers.
9. Moses Moody (Arkansas)
Stats: 17.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.1 SPG
Add Moody to the list of freshmen that look to take over this March. Arkansas wasn’t looked at too high coming into the season, but it’s about where you finish. The SEC Rookie of the Year has had three 28-point games out of his last four games, so watch out.
8. James Bouknight (UConn)
Stats: 19.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Injuries plagued Bouknight for quite some time this season and if they hadn’t we might’ve seen a little ‘5’ next to UConn’s name in the bracket. But unfortunately, that’s not how things went. Bouknight did play in 14 games putting up great numbers. His game is also made for the next level, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that he can take over in March.
7. Evan Mobley (USC)
Stats: 16.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 3.0 BPG
Mobley will be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft, but before that he’s been a stud in what will be his only year in college. At 7-foot, 210 pounds, he’s quick and has tons of post moves. Defensively, he makes other big men look like small forwards. A potential Sweet 16 matchup against Iowa and Luka Garza would be a dream.
6. Quentin Grimes (Houston)
Stats: 18.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Without Grimes, Houston may not have even made the NCAA Tournament. That’s not to say the Cougars aren’t talented. Marcus Sasser and the bunch are all really, really good. But Grimes is on a whole ‘nother level. And even for those 18 points per game, his defense might be his best trait.
5. Jared Butler (Baylor)
Stats: 17.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 42.9% 3P
Butler is the best player on a team who has been in the top 3 of the rankings all season long. He has an incredible three-point shot, among other scoring abilities, and is the Bears’ leading assist man. Defensively, he collects two steals per game, making it hard to decipher what stats to even showcase.
4. Drew Timme (Gonzaga)
Stats: 18.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 65.6% FG
I could have gone with Corey Kispert or Jalen Suggs and either of them would have been top-10 on this list as well. That’s how good and deep this Gonzaga team is. But Timme brings it all together because he makes it difficult for other teams to matchup against, which creates problems all across the board. Oh, and he’s also just that good too.
3. Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State)
Stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 3.6 APG
Cade is the best freshman that I’ve seen since Carmelo Anthony. He’s that good and the reason why Oklahoma State is my pick to win the whole thing. But besides that opinion, there’s no way to say he isn’t top three. He’s the potential number one draft pick, can score as easily as anyone, and is as unselfish as it gets.
2. Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois)
Stats: 20.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.3 APG
Another team with multiple players that would be top ten on this list, Ayo is still the easy choice. Where Preston might be the Ja Morant story of this NCAA Tournament, Dosunmu’s game lines up with his, which makes Illinois an easy title favorite. A potential game against Cunningham and Oklahoma State would be one for the ages.
1. Luka Garza (Iowa)
Stats: 23.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.7 BPG
Garza has been the best player in college basketball all season long and that isn’t about to change. Sure, other guys have come on as the year’s gone on, but Garza is still too far ahead to catch. He is almost unstoppable inside, has a bit of some range, clears the boards, makes his presence felt on defense, and has led Iowa to a 2-seed. It’s simple, Garza is the top (Hawk) dog.