The 2022-23 college basketball season is five weeks from the most exciting time, the NCAA Tournament. Before the tournament, it is always fun to see who gets what seed and who will match up against whom. The following is my third NCAA basketball bracketology, where I project the top 12 seeds and who they will play in their opening game.
No. 1 seeds
1. Purdue Boilermakers 22-2
The Boilermakers remain the No.1 overall seed despite falling at Indiana 79-75 on Saturday. Purdue owns the most wins and highest winning percentage in the nation. They also own the D-I highest winning percentage (9-2) in Quad I games and 11-2 in away/neutral site contests.
For the second straight week, Purdue projects to face the winner of the first No. 16 play-in game between the winner of the Northeast Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference. Stonehill (12-14) leads the NEC by the one-half game while Alcorn State (11-11) and Southern (10-11) are tied atop of the SWAC.
2. Houston Cougars 22-2
Houston avenged its lone American Athletic Conference loss by defeating the Temple Owls in Philadelphia (81-65) on Sunday. The Cougars outscored the Owls 48-28 in the second half to extend its winning streak to five.
Houston is the only team in the nation ranked in the top 3 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Star guard Marcus Sasser (16.0 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.7 RPG, 1.7 RPG) leads nine players averaging at least four points and two boards.
The Cougars own five Quad I wins and are an impressive 10-0 in games away from home. Houston projects to play the winner of the second play-in game between the automatic bid winner from the Southland and Ohio Valley. Morehead State (16-9) leads the OVC by a game.
Northwestern State (16-8), Texas A&M Corpus Christi (15-9), and Southeastern Louisiana (14-10) are tied for the conference lead at 14-10.
3. Alabama Crimson Tide 20-3
Alabama moves up one spot to No. 3 after falling to fourth following their debacle in the ACC/Big 12 Challenge last Saturday. The Crimson Tide bounced back from their throttling at the hands of Oklahoma with two victories, hammering Vanderbilt and then picking up a double-figure win at LSU.
Bama has six Quad I wins though all three of their losses have been by double digits. Their worst loss is to a quality Oklahoma club that has several near wins. The Tide, who have one of the best freshmen in Brandon Miller, love to play fast and are electric offensively.
As the third No. 1 seed, Alabama will play the first non-play-in No. 16 seed in the first round. After having the OVC champion in this spot the first two weeks, I have moved up the MEAC champion here, although that could change depending on who wins the conference tournament. Maryland Eastern-Shore (14-8) and Howard (14-10) share the conference lead, with Norfolk State (16-7) a game behind.
4. Arizona Wildcats (21-3)
Arizona has been one of the most consistent teams in the country, which is why they have jumped two spots in my rankings and into the last No. 1 seed. The Wildcats have won six straight and 8 of 10. They are also away from home.
Arizona has three questionable losses though all three are against conference opponents. The Wildcats are 6-2 in Quad I with quality victories over UCLA, Tennessee, Indiana, and Arizona State. These are among the most impressive collections of wins in the nation.
Zona is the highest-scoring team in the PAC 12, No. 8 in Division I, and projects to play Vermont in the opening round. Vermont (13-10) has reeled off five in a row to move to the front of the America east class.
No. 2 Seeds
No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers 19-4
Tennessee falls a spot in my rankings. The Volunteers followed up one of their best wins against Texas last weekend with a double-digit setback loss at Florida and an ugly 46-43 victory over Auburn.
Tennessee still has opportunities to play itself back on the No. 1 line, with their biggest coming on February 15 when they host Alabama. The Vols have won six of seven Quad I contests and are 8-3 in games from Thompson-Boling Arena. They project to play Rider (13-9), who leads the MAAC by one-half game over Iona.
No. 6 Kanas Jayhawks 19-5
The Jayhawks have proven that they know how to win the big game. When you think Kansas can be counted out, they come up with a season-best performance. KU defeated Texas 88-80 on Monday night to remain in contention for the Big 12 regular season title and a top seed.
With Jalen Wilson (2 points) struggling, freshman Grady Dick tossed in 21 points to lead five players in double figures. Kansas is just one game behind Texas for the Big 12 lead and owns a DI-best 10 QI victories. KU projects to open up with Youngstown State (19-6), which holds a narrow lead in the Horizon
No. 7 UCLA Bruins 19-4
UCLA makes up the No. 2 seed this week in my projections. The Bruins have responded with consecutive wins after scuffling the final two games of January over Washington and Washington State. All four of the Bruins’ losses are away-from-home and quality losses.
The Bruins are a veteran team led by seniors Jaime Jaquez, who is having a career season, and Tyger Campbell. They also thrive on the defense, particularly guarding the 3-point line and forcing turnovers.
UCLA projects to play the winner of the Big South Conference. UNC Asheville (18-7) and Radford (16-9) are tied atop of the conference at 10-2.
No. 8 Texas Longhorns 19-5
Texas fell to Kansas on Monday night in Lawrence. The loss to the No. 9 Jayhawks drops the Longhorns’ record to 2-2 against ranked teams in the past four games. UT still tops the Big 12, but their advantage drops to one-half game over Iowa State.
Marcus Carr, who leads the team in scoring at 17 points a game, tossed in a game-high 29 points. UT is 6-4 in away/neutral contests and 8-5 in Quad I games.
Texas projects to play Eastern Washington (18-7) in the first round. EWU is undefeated in Big Sky, holding a two-game lead with six left to play.
No. 3 Seeds
No. 9 Marquette Golden Eagles 19-5
Marquette enters a key Big East clash at UConn (18-6) on Wednesday on a five-game winning streak. The Golden Eagles are a high-powered offensive team that uses their defense to create easy baskets. Marquette is 6-4 away from home and 4-4 in Quad I contests.
Marquette has five players who average double-figures, with guard Kameron Jones topping the squad at 15.3 points a contest. The Golden Eagles rank 19th in the nation with 81.3 points a game while connecting on 60.4% of their 2-point shots and 50% of their field goal attempts.
All five of the Golden Eagles’ losses have been five points or less. Marquette projects to play Colgate (17-8) of the Patriot League.
No. 10 Virginia Cavaliers 17-4
Virginia falls to the third line or the last number No. 2 seed. The Cavaliers saw their seven-game winning streak snapped by Virginia Tech (76-68) on Saturday as UVA allowed Virginia Tech to shoot over 50% from the field.
Virginia is still a top-notch veteran team led by five seniors. While guards Armaan Franklin, Kihei Clark, and Reece Beekman lead the way for Hoos, Jayden Gardner is their most important player. Virginia projects to play Princeton (16-6), who leads the Ivy League.
No. 11 Xavier Musketeers 19-5
Xavier was one of my top second group of two seeds last week. The Musketeers have a few bad losses, but they have won 15 of their previous 17.
Xavier is an excellent shooting team, particularly from deep. The Musketeers average nearly 84 (sixth) points a game while shooting 50.2% from the field, including 40.4% from the 3-point line. Souley Bourn (16.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists) and Zach Freemantle (15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists) lead four players who average 14 points along with 2.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds.
Xavier is 6-4 in contests away from the Cintas Center and 7-4 in Quad I games. The Musketeers project to face the Southern League champion. Furman (19-6), Samford (16-9), and UNC Greensboro (16-9) are tied atop of the conference standings at 10-2.
No. 12 Saint Mary’s Gaels 21-4
Saint Mary’s appears to be on the verge of ending Gonzaga’s 10-year reign atop the WCC. The Gaels, the last team to win the conference outright (2011-12), defeated the Bulldogs in overtime on Saturday and leads them by two games.
Saint Mary’s has won 12 in a row, the second-longest current streak in the nation. The Gaels are 7-2 in games away from Morago (CA) and are 7-2 combined in Quad I and II games. They project to play the WAC’s Utah Valley (18-6).