We are now more than halfway through the month of February and coming down the home stretch of the college basketball season. March Madness is right around the corner and much of the fun in February is making March Madness predictions.
Today, I want to talk about some teams that you should be able to trust heading into the tournament next month. Whether it’s due to coaching, experience, pure talent or that they have simply been impressive this season, here are some teams to back in your office bracket pool.
While Purdue has struggled at times on the defensive end of the court, they are currently the number one team in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency and top three in the nation in three-point percentage and effective field goal percentage.
Even with their 101st ranked defense, Matt Painter’s group continues to win and win big. The Boilermaker have an average margin of victory north of 13 points per contest. Of their four losses on the season, none have come outside of quadrant one games and only one of those has come at home.
Purdue has arguably the most electric player in the nation in Jaden Ivey to go along with one of the most intimidating frontcourts in the nation made up by Zack Edey and Trevion Williams. Sasha Stefanovic is also the kind of shooter that can carry a team when he gets hot and he is just one of five players on the team shooting 40% or better from behind the arc (min, 25 attempts).
Duke Blue Devils
There are so many reasons to believe in this Duke squad heading into March Madness. Blue Devil fans are going to attend the tournament in droves for their last opportunity to watch Coach K roam the sidelines and coach a team that is supremely talented.
Unlike most Duke teams in recent memory, these Blue Devils have an excellent mix of youthful talent, experience, and depth. Coach K is historically known as a coach that keeps a short bench but this team plays eight players at least 12 minutes per game and six players that average at least 7.5 points per game. Junior wing Wendell Moore has realized the potential expected of him as a prep this season and has paired fantastically with freshman phenom Paolo Banchero.
When you factor in Mark Williams’ defense and the talent oozing from freshmen Trevor Keels and AJ Griffin, this is the sole team from the ACC that has a chance to make a run to the final four.
The Blue Devils have the coaching, talent and will have tremendous fan support in every tournament game they play, expect a deep tournament run.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Expectations for Texas Tech seemed to take a hit once Chris Beard blew town for the position in Austin but fans in Lubbock never wavered in their support of Mark Adams. Adams has rewarded their loyalty by putting one of the finest products in program history onto the court this season.
The Red Raiders are perfect at home this season and have zero bad losses on their resume on the season. All six losses have come in quadrant one games where they have also logged six victories with five wins coming in quadrant two games. Texas Tech is just 4-6 on the season in the road and neutral games but you have to take that with a grain of salt when you consider the fact that they play in the Big XII which is easily the best conference in the nation this season.
Transfers Bryson Williams (UTEP) and Kevin Obanor (Oral Roberts) have fit into the program seamlessly while Terrance Shannon is steadily becoming the player that everyone expected he committed to the program a few years ago. The Red Raiders are long with an average height of 6-6 and are terrorizing on the defensive end of the floor ranking third in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and 14th in defensive turnover percentage.
Feel free to advance these teams into your sweet sixteen and feel great about it. There are other teams in the field that we will identify as pretenders in another piece that is forthcoming.