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The 50 best players in the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament, ranked

Let’s rank the best players in the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament

March Madness allows college basketball players the opportunity to become household names around the country and legends at their schools. With the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament field now set, sports fans who don’t follow college hoops year-round are about to become emotionally invested in some of the best young athletes in the sport.

College basketball really only holds the national sports spotlight for one month, but these players have been working for this moment their entire lives. Some — like Alabama’s Brandon Miller, Houston’s Jarace Walker, and Baylor’s Keyonte George — are using college as a one-year pitstop before starting their NBA careers. Others like Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, and UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez are four-year stars who have built real legacies at their programs. Now it’s time to see what they can do with the whole country watching.

Before the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament begins, here’s our list of the top-50 players in the field.

50. Jalen Hood-Schifino, G, Indiana

Hood-Schifino was always going to be a major part of the Indiana Hoosiers this year as the program’s first five-star recruit since Trayce Jackson-Davis, but he was suddenly thrust into a starring role when veteran guard Xavier Johnson went down with a foot injury. The freshman excelled in a bigger role, and is now being projected as a first round pick in this NBA draft. A huge lead guard at 6’6, 215 pounds, Hood-Schifino proved he could knock down a jump shot (36 percent from three) and facilitate to teammates from the moment Indiana put the ball in his hands. He’s not an elite athlete and can be a little turnover prone, but his ability to get to his mid-range pull-up whenever he wants has helped keep the Hoosiers’ offense afloat without Johnson. With this being Indiana’s only run with Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis, head coach Mike Woodson has to feel some pressure to get the program into the second weekend of the tournament for the first time since 2016. — Ricky O’Donnell

49. Grant Singleton, G, Fairleigh Dickinson

The Knights backcourt is led by a pair of undersized guards, the 5’8” Demetre Roberts and 5’9” Grant Singleton, who played four years at Division II St. Thomas Aquinas before moving up to DI FDU. For his size he’s a surprisingly well-rounded player, averaging 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He’s shooting 38% from distance at a clip of nearly 6 attempts per game. He’s one of the best free throw shooters in the nation at 92.5%, and went 22 games this season without a miss. — Adam Ward

48. Tyson Walker, G, Michigan State

Walker is the closest thing to a star on Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team this season. The 6’0 guard is in his second year with the Spartans after transferring from Northeastern. At his best, Walker is an offensive explosion. He has the quickness and touch to finish at the rim and hits 42% from beyond the arc. But where he can surprise teams the most is in the midrange, utilizing his shot fake to avoid bigger defenders and clearing out space. Walker has shown the ability to go on a scoring run all on his own and is at his best both at the end of the shot clock and the end of the game. While he still needs help getting into the offense and can be locked down by elite defenders, he’s of the mindset to shoot out of any drought. — Kyle Thele

47. Tucker Richardson, G, Colgate

The Patriot League Player of the Year enters March as your prototypical 3-and-D wing, averaging 13.9 points, 5.6 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 2.1 steals this season. He led the Raiders to a win against Syracuse earlier this season with a dominant 30p/6r/4a/4s performance. About the only thing he doesn’t do well is shoot free throws, but he doesn’t get to the line too often anyways. Colgate gave a No. 3 seed a scare in the first round last year; Richardson will be the key to them advancing out of the first round for the first time in school history. — Adam Ward

46. Steven Ashworth, G, Utah State

Ashworth is one of the best three point shooters in college basketball today, and is part of the reason Utah State is actually favored to win their first round matchup as a lower seed. Here’s how ridiculous he’s shooting this season: He hits 51% of his dribble pull-up threes. And when he’s guarded on the arc? 41%. As defenses close him out on the perimeter he’s finding his teammates for easy buckets, dishing out a career high 4.5 assists per game. Ashworth also takes care of the ball, with only a 13.9% turnover rate. The Aggies will be very hard to beat if Ashworth is finding the bottom of the net early in the game. — Adam Ward

Gonzaga v Saint Mary’s Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

45. Julian Strawther, G, Gonzaga

A large part of the reason Gonzaga has been so tough this year is thanks to the 6’7” Strawther, their best and most potent deep threat with a 43% accuracy from three point range. When Drew Timme is having an off night, Strawther can completely take over the Bulldogs offense, as he did against Portland earlier this season, dropping 40 points and hitting 8 threes. And when defenses get wise to his range, Strawther has a deadly dribble drive and floater. Whoever faces Gonzaga in the tournament will focus first on shutting down Drew Timme, and if the Bulldogs want to make a deep run they’ll need Strawther to step up; they are 17-0 this season when he scores at least 15 points. — Adam Ward

44. Jalen Slawson, F, Furman

Slawson was one of the best kept secrets in college basketball this year as a big wing who refined his jump shot and put up incredibly efficient scoring numbers for Furman. At 6’7, 215 pounds, Slawson has always been a good passer and impactful defender who racks up blocks and steals. In his fifth year with the Paladins, he morphed into a tremendous all-around scorer, too: his improved 39 percent three-point stroke helped him become one of the country’s most efficient scorers with a 64 percent true shooting mark entering the tournament. This might be the most well-rounded mid-major star in the country. Virginia needs to be on high alert for what he can do if they want to avoid the upset. — Ricky O’Donnell

43. Aidan Mahaney, G, St. Mary’s

The Gaels freshman phenom enters March having earned the title of WCC Freshman of the Year, the first St. Mary’s player to do so since Patty Mills. Mahaney is averaging over 14 points per game while shooting a blistering 41% from three point range on nearly 6 attempts per game. Some of St. Mary’s biggest wins of the season have been fueled by Mahaney’s scoring, like a 25-point outburst against Oral Roberts and 20 in a win against No. 22 San Diego State in December. They’ll need him at his best come tournament time for a deep run. — Adam Ward

42. Boo Buie, G, Northwestern

Northwestern is currently having one of its’ best seasons in program history, and guard Boo Buie is a large reason why. The first team All-Big Ten player leads the Wildcats in points at 17.5 and is at his best when the game is close, his 28.8 usage rate being well earned in the clutch. Buie is the engine of the Wildcats offense and his ability to get downhill and create good shots will be key to a deep run for Northwestern. - J.P. Acosta

41. Drew Peterson, F, USC

After transferring from Rice in 2020, Drew Peterson has become the heart and soul of a USC team that’s dancing for a third consecutive season. Peterson does a little bit of everything from ball handling and passing (he leads the Trojans with 4.5 assists/game) to scoring (7th in the Pac-12 in points produced). He’s a fantastic shooter from anywhere on the floor, and whether the Trojans use him as a spot-up from beyond the arc or allow him space to create a shot in the mid-range, he’s shown himself reliable and consistent (top 10 in eFG% in the Pac-12 this season). Peterson has been dealing with a back injury over the last couple of weeks, but hopefully a week of rest will have him ready to take USC to the weekend and beyond. — Adam Ward

Iowa State v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

40. Gradey Dick, G, Kansas

Gradey Dick might be the best shooter in college basketball. The 6’8 freshman is hitting 41 percent of his threes on a high volume of attempts, and he’s been money from the foul line (84 percent), too. Dick has been a day-one starter for the defending champs, and he’s helped make Kansas a No. 1 seed once again despite so many departures over the offseason. Dick doesn’t try to attack much off the dribble, but his ability to bend the opposing defense off the ball with his shooting gravity has helped Kansas get free runs to the basket all year. Players with Dick’s size and shooting versatility are coveted at every level of the game, and it’s the reason he’s being projected as a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. — Ricky O’Donnell

39. Kobe Brown, F, Missouri

Kobe Brown has started all but four games since he first stepped onto campus at Missouri. The forward was always a solid contributor under former head coach Cuonzo Martin, but he’s made a star leap as a senior for new coach Dennis Gates. At 6’8, 250 pounds, Brown has great size and physicality for a player so comfortable playing out on the perimeter. Brown’s big improvement this year has been as a shooter: after hitting under 25 percent of his threes for his first three years in school, he drained 45.5 percent of his triples while increasing his attempts. Add in 60 percent shooting on two-pointers and an 80 percent mark from the foul line, and Brown is one of the most efficient scorers in college hoops. Brown is one of the best late-blooming developmental stories in the sport this year, and he’s ready to show the whole country how good he’s become in March. — Ricky O’Donnell

38. Reece Beekman, G, Virginia

Reece Beekman was recently named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and with good reason. Beekman is one of the best perimeter defenders in the nation, with the length and explosiveness to be disruptive in passing lanes, and the change-of-direction skills to work through screens and close on opponents in a flash. But there is more to his game than what he does on the defensive end, as he averaged 9.3 ppg this season, and hit from three at a 38.2% clip. — Mark Schofield

37. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State

Smith was being projected as a possible first round draft pick after a breakout freshman season for NC State a year ago, but he chose to go back to school. If Smith was hoping to prove he’s more than just a scorer with another year of college ball, he did it. The 6’4 guard doubled his assist total from last year while carrying an even bigger scoring burden than he did a year ago. Smith’s three-point shot fell off slightly by percentage, but he’s still one of the most dangerous pull-up shooters in this field. NC State just barely snuck into the dance, and if they are going to make any noise, it will be Smith’s microwave scoring leading the way. — Ricky O’Donnell

36. Nick Smith Jr., G, Arkansas

Nick Smith Jr. was one of the top recruits in the entire 2022 recruiting cycle, viewed as a consensus five-star and the third-overall player in ESPN’s rankings. He stayed close to home, choosing Arkansas over the plethora of schools that offered him during his recruiting cycle. While he has dealt with a knee injury this season, and appeared in just 12 games, he brings a dynamic element to Arkansas’ offense, with the touch of an elite scorer. Smith shows off that touch on floaters like this in the paint against Kentucky. He also does a tremendous job at creating scoring opportunities off the dribble, like he does here against Alabama. Smith is also mechanically sound as a shooter, with the ability to catch-and-release in a flash. There have been some questions about his explosiveness, which could be attributed to his recovery from the knee injury, but his touch and shooting prowess makes him a player to watch this March, and beyond. — Mark Schofield

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Providence Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

35. Bryce Hopkins, F, Providence

Bryce Hopkins was a four-star recruit who passed on offers from schools like Indiana, Iowa, and Louisville to enroll at Kentucky. But after he was used mainly as a rotational player, averaging just over six minutes a game last season, he transferred to Providence for the 2022-2023 season. Hopkins has been a huge part of their success this season, as the 6’7 forward averaged 16.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. He is strong and athletic, and can create opportunities off the dribble. Hopkins is also a solid rebounder for someone of his side, as his Defensive Rebound Percentage of 22.6% is fourth-best in the Big East. — Mark Schofield

34. Jordan Brown, F, Louisiana

Jordan Brown was a McDonald’s All-American the same year as Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett coming out of high school in California. He played his freshman year at Nevada, but bounced when Eric Musselman left and sat out the next season as he transferred to Arizona. After one year with the Wildcats, he transferred again to Louisiana, and has since become a dominant force in the Sun Belt. Brown put up 19.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game on sterling 58.3 percent shooting as a senior. It’s remarkable that a player with such an impressive pedigree and this much experience is playing in a mid-major conference, but make no mistake: Brown is one of the best big men in this tournament field. — Ricky O’Donnell

33. Matt Bradley, G, San Diego State

The Aztecs are largely a defensive team, but on the other end of the floor Matt Bradley is the team’s offensive centerpiece. He may not be an explosive scorer who’ll get you 20+ points a night, but he does all the little things well. Perhaps most important when it comes to the tournament: He doesn’t lag behind in big games. Bradley had largely the same offensive efficiency against top 50 opponents this season as he did the rest of the schedule, showing his game translates well to taking on more highly-regarded opponents. — James Dator

32. Wade Taylor, G, Texas A&M

Texas A&M Aggies guard Wade Taylor is a big game player, something that’s crucial for the NCAA tournament. In games against ranked opponents this year, Taylor is averaging 20.5 points per game, including a 28 point outburst in a win against Alabama. Taylor was also a unanimous first team All-SEC pick, and sets the tone for an Aggies team that finished 23-8 in the SEC. He might not be the biggest player at 6’0 and 183 pounds, but Taylor is an excellent shot creator and pushes the pace for the Aggies. — J.P. Acosta

31. Oso Ighodaro, C, Marquette

Oso Ighodaro’s numbers seem modest at first glance — he averaged just under 12 points and six rebounds per game in the regular season — but the big man’s unique skill set has been the key to Marquette’s stunning success this season. After being picked to finish No. 9 in the Big East in the preseason, the Golden Eagles won the league outright for the first time ever behind the best offense of Shaka Smart’s career. Ighodaro’s playmaking from the center position, combined with his ferocious rim attacking as a scorer, is the secret sauce that has made Marquette go. Ighodaro is a bit small for a traditional center, and he has no outside shooting ability, but he’s unlocked one of the best teams in the country with his two-way play anyway. He is one of college basketball’s most beautiful odd balls. — Ricky O’Donnell

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

30. Markquis Nowell, G, Kansas State

It isn’t hard to see why Nowell was overlooked by power conference teams coming out of high school: at 5’8 and 160 pounds, he’s the smallest player on the floor in every game he plays in. But after three standout seasons as a scorer and distributor at Little Rock, Nowell transferred to Kansas State and has grown into one of the best guards in the Big 12. Nowell is tremendous at setting up his teammates with a 36.1 percent assist rate that ranks top-15 in America. He’s also incredibly feisty as a defender on the ball, with a monstrous 4.3 steal rate that ranks in the top-25 of the country. Kansas State has the talent to go on a real run in March, and that starts with Nowell being their engine. — Ricky O’Donnell

29. Adam Flagler, G, Baylor

Baylor senior guard Adam Flagler is the catalyst behind the Bears’ offense. He has put together a solid season for Baylor this year, averaging 15.5 points while averaging another 4.7 assists per game. His assist rate of 29.1 puts him in the top 100 players in the nation, and is fourth in the Big 12. While he is solid at getting to the rim, where he is most dangerous on the offensive end is with his spacing, and his ability to get off shots in an instant. He knocks down shots at a 41.9% clip, and has hit from three-point land at a 40.8 percent rate this year, sixth-best in the conference. Flagler also has incredible range, as he displayed on a logo three to beat the halftime buzzer against Iowa State the other night. — Mark Schofield

28. Drew Pember, F, UNC Asheville

UNC Asheville center Drew Pember is a lot of lightning, in a big bottle. The 6’11 former Tennessee recruit made the move to the North Carolina mountains in 2022 to get more playing time, and it paid huge dividends. Pember routinely accounts for 30-40 percent of UNC Asheville’s point share, and he’s shown a knack particularly this season to stretch the floor as a .376 shooter from beyond the arc. This is a player who has to be accounted for on every possession, and a team that isn’t able to stop Pember from getting hot could easily find themselves on the wrong side of an upset. — James Dator

27. Kyle Filipowski, F, Duke

Kyle Filipowski was a consensus five-star recruit in the 2022 recruiting class, and entertained offers from almost every school you could think of before choosing to play at Duke. So it is probably not a surprise that he put together a tremendous first season in college basketball. Filipowski was just named the ACC Rookie of the Year, and a Second-Team All-ACC player, after leading the Blue Devils in scoring, rebounds, and steals. The dynamic 7-foot center plays with strength and solid footwork on the block, but has the ability to catch and shoot from the perimeter. This deep dive into his game is worth your time. — Mark Schofield

26. DeAndre Williams, F, Memphis

DeAndre Williams is the oldest player in the NCAA tournament. Born way back in 1996, Williams was ruled ineligible during his first year at Evansville before a breakout freshman season that earned him an offer from Penny Hardaway at Memphis in the transfer portal. He’s been an excellent all-around player ever since joining the Tigers, and has blossomed this year with the offensive system built around him and guard Kendric Davis. Williams can bully opponents inside as a scorer, feed open teammates as a facilitator, and even hit 40 percent of his threes this year on two attempts per game. Hardaway earned so much attention for landing one-and-done talents like James Wiseman and Jalen Duren when he first got to Memphis, but it’s a (relative) old guy who gives him his best chance yet to go on a tournament run. — Ricky O’Donnell

Syndication: York Daily Record Dan Rainville / USA TODAY NETWORK

25. Jarace Walker, F, Houston

Houston guard Marcus Sasser gets most of the attention on the Cougars, but freshman forward Jarace Walker is just as important for the team’s success. He only averages 10.9 points per game, but adds 6.7 rebounds per game as well as consistent defense that powers the Cougars. The former five-star recruit from IMG Academy can truly guard every position, and combines a physical 240-pound frame with the lateral quickness to stay in front of players that are much smaller. He’s also shooting 35% from three, a crucial number for the Cougars offense. Walker is the king of doing the dirty work, and that should keep Houston right in the mix for the national title. — J.P. Acosta

24. Kendric Davis, G, Memphis

Tigers point guard Kendric Davis is a menace, and I mean that in the best possible way. Ranking the the top 20 in fouls drawn, he has a knack for forcing defensive players into uncomfortable positions where their only option is to foul him, or let him get an easy bucket. Davis is a solid shooter, but is at his best driving to the basket and using his quickness to get an edge. Against Houston on March 5th was the perfect example of this, as Davis scored 29 points in a narrow loss, but was sent to the free throw line 12 times. — James Dator

23. Marcus Carr, G, Texas

The Longhorns senior point guard is a glue player that makes Texas tick. Not only is Carr one of the better court generals in college basketball, but his ability to modify his game is what makes him so indispensable. There are times he’ll step up and become a scorer when the offense is lagging, but he’s more comfortable as a facilitator in the offence, letting his teammates shine. A streaky shooter from three, Carr will have some games where he’s an assassin from beyond the arc, and others where he gets in a funk. Still, his skills as a passer and organizer on both ends of the floor make him a great player. — James Dator

22. Tucker DeVries, F, Drake

Tucker DeVries had offers from bigger schools in power conferences coming out of high school, but he chose to stay at home and play for his father at Drake instead. Surrounded by a veteran group of returning players who already made an NCAA tournament run back in 2021, the addition of a talented wing scorer in DeVries has given the Bulldogs the extra starpower they needed to dream big in March. A 6’7, DeVries is one of the best pure shooters in the country, with deep range on his spot-ups, and the ability to hit tough midrange looks when defenses run him off the line. We’ve seen father-son duos lead their teams to success in March so many times in the past, and Tucker and Darian DeVries could be next. — Ricky O’Donnell

21. Ryan Kalkbrenner, C, Creighton

Kalkbrenner, Creighton’s 7’1” skyscraper averaging 2.2 blocks per game, is the ringleader for the Big East’s No. 1 defense. Here’s the interesting thing about that: the Bluejays are nearly dead last nationally (353rd out of 363) in forced turnovers. Instead, Creighton makes it impossible to shoot efficiently with Kalkbrenner clogging the paint. Opponents actively avoid easy buckets, shooting 10% less at the rim when he’s on the floor. In addition to his defensive dominance, he’s seen almost no resistance on the offensive side, with the second-best eFG% in the nation (71.2%). The Bluejays went on a 6-game losing streak in December, but it was later revealed Kalkbrenner was suffering from mono at the time and wasn’t 100%. He is now. - Adam Ward

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament Semifinals - TCU vs Texas William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

20. Mike Miles Jr., G, TCU

Miles entered TCU ranked as the No. 179 overall recruit in his class, according to 247 Sports, but almost immediately established himself as the type of floor general every college basketball team wants. Now a junior, the 6’2 guard has led TCU to the best years in program history while fine-tuning his game and improving his scoring efficiency year-after-year. The speedy ball handler thrives pushing the pace in transition and relentlessly attacking the basket. It’s so hard to stay in front of Miles one-on-one thanks to his burst with the ball, and he’s become such a good finisher (71 percent at the rim) that defenses have no choice but to foul him. TCU’s round of 32 loss to Arizona was one of the most exciting games of last year’s tournament, and you know Miles doesn’t want to go out on such a sour note this year. — Ricky O’Donnell

19. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts

Abmas was the Division I scoring leader in 2021, and that season he lead the Golden Eagles to a shocking Sweet Sixteen appearance as a 15-seed. ORU is significantly better this year, and Abmas is a top-10 scorer in all of college basketball (22.0 PPG). He shoots 37% from three, 92% from the free throw line, and barely turns the ball over. He’s gotten Steph Curry comparisons in the past for his ability to take over in March, and this year Oral Roberts is built to support his blistering scoring ability. - Adam Ward

18. Colby Jones, G, Xavier

Junior guard Colby Jones is a smooth 6’6 guard who contributes in a big way on both ends for Xavier. On the offensive end, Jones has the ability to get to the rim, but he can also create open looks both off the dribble, as well as off the catch. Jones has also hit from three-point land at a 40.2% rate this season. Defensively, Jones has good quickness to match defenders and beat them to the spot, and enough length to disrupt shooters all over the court. Jones is also coming off perhaps his two best games of the season, as he scored 29 in Xavier’s win at Providence at the start of the month, and followed that with a 20-point effort against Butler in their season finale. — Mark Schofield

17. Isaiah Wong, G, Miami

Wong has been on college basketball and NBA radars since helping the Hurricanes to the Elite Eight in last years’ NCAA tournament, and decided to return to school to help Miami finish what they started.`Wong leads the Hurricanes (who are first in the ACC in points per game) in points, assists and steals, and when he gets hot, his shooting carries over into multiple games. In December, Wong scored over 20 points in four out of six of Miami’s games, and the Hurricanes won each one. Wong has a penchant for shining in these situations, and could steal the show again in March. - J.P. Acosta

Big East Basketball Tournament - Championship Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

16. Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette

Tyler Kolek needed just one season at George Mason to prove high-major programs never should have overlooked him as a recruit coming out of Rhode Island. He transferred to Marquette and started all 32 games last season, establishing himself as a solid defender and talented facilitator. There was only one problem: Kolek shot 28 percent from three, and didn’t offer much scoring punch without a reliable three-point shot. Kolek got in the gym over the summer and worked on his stroke, and the results have made him one of the best players in the Big East. Kolek hit 38 percent of his threes this year while finishing second in the country in assists per game for a Marquette team that stunned the Big East by winning its first outright league title ever. Kolek is the backbone of Marquette’s resurgence, and he’s only getting better. — Ricky O’Donnell

15. Keyontae Johnson, F, Kansas State

Keyontae Johnson’s basketball future was in jeopardy when he collapsed on the court in a medical emergency early in his junior year at Florida. Johnson was named preseason SEC Player of the Year coming into the season and was starting to draw real NBA interest, but he spent most of the next two years just trying to get healthy and safely resume his career. He finally found a place that would clear him this year at Kansas State, and he quickly regained his form as one of the country’s best wings. At 6’6, 230 pounds, Johnson is a freight train going to the basket. He has the power and athleticism to consistently get to the rim, and the skill to score from midrange and from three-point territory. His game-winning alley-oop dunk to upset Kansas was one of the most memorable moments of the Big 12 season. His 42 percent mark from three-point range has kept defenses honest all year. It’s amazing that Johnson even made it back to March Madness, and now he’s ready to write his own storybook ending. — Ricky O’Donnell

14. Terrence Shannon Jr., G, Illinois

Terrence Shannon Jr. always felt like he was on the cusp of true college stardom during his three years at Texas Tech, and he’s fully blossomed this year after transferring back home to Illinois. At 6’6, 225 pounds, Shannon is an ultra-athletic wing who thrives attacking the defense off the bounce and getting to the rim. While he’s a streaky but capable three-point shooter, Shannon’s ability to get to the foul line — where he makes 80% of his free throws — has been the backbone of the Illini’s offense all year. Illinois hasn’t made the second weekend of the tournament since their Final Four run back in 2005, but they have the talent to do it this year with Shannon leading the charge. — Ricky O’Donnell

13. Kris Murray, F, Iowa

A year ago, Keegan Murray emerged as one of the best players in the country and a future top-five NBA draft pick during a breakout sophomore season while leading Iowa to the NCAA tournament. Now his twin brother Kris Murray is on a similar trajectory one year later. The 6’8, 220 pound forward won’t go in the top-five like his brother, but he’s earned first round looks from scouts for his shooting, rebounding, and all-around scoring punch. While he’ll be a role player as a pro, Murray is a mismatch nightmare at the college level who few teams have a natural matchup for. He’s simply too big and too skilled as a scorer for someone who can get it done inside and out. Now Murray wants to do what his brother couldn’t last year — win a game in the NCAA tournament. — Ricky O’Donnell

Champions Classic - Kentucky v Michigan State Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

12. Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky

The reigning Wooden Player of the Year shockingly returned to Kentucky, but amidst an up and down year for the Wildcats, Tshiebwe has once again been very good. He leads the nation in rebounding and his offensive rating is among the best in the NCAA. He’s in the top five in the entire country in offensive rebound rate, and while his overall points per game has gone down this season, he’s scored in double digits in seven straight games. Never count out the reigning Player of the Year. - J.P. Acosta

11. Keyonte George, G, Baylor

It’s easy to see the frequent 20-point scoring outbursts and ridiculously tough shot-making ability and think Keyonte George is just a bucket-getter. The Baylor freshman has been a deadly scorer since he arrived on campus in Waco, darting around screens for threes, hitting contested pull-ups, and consistently getting to the foul line. The reason George is a projected NBA lottery pick this year though is because he offers so much else in addition to buckets. He’s capable of highlight-reel playmaking at times and finished the regular season with an impressive 21 percent assist rate. He’s also a solid on-ball defender, using his quickness to slide with opposing guards and his length to get into the pass lanes and contest shots. George isn’t the most efficient scorer and he’s not an elite athlete, but he still feels like the most complete freshmen guard in college hoops this season. — Ricky O’Donnell

10. Adama Sanogo, C, UConn

Sanogo established himself as a defensive force in the middle for UConn from early in his college career. As a junior, he’ll enter the NCAA tournament as a versatile and talented scorer, too, who continues to expand his game in new ways. Sanogo ended the regular season as the Big East’s leading scorer, and he isn’t just getting buckets on lobs, put-backs, and post-ups anymore. Sanogo only attempted one three-pointer in his career during his first two seasons with the Huskies — now he’s a legitimate stretch five who attempts one or two threes every game and knocks them down at a 36 percent clip. With a newfound ability to impact the game from the perimeter offensively, Sanogo now feels like the total package for a college big man. UConn’s dreams of a deep NCAA tournament run starts with his excellent two-way play. — Ricky O’Donnell

9. Jalen Pickett, G, Penn State

Penn State has made the NCAA tournament just once since 2002, and they can thank head coach Micah Shrewsberry and Jalen Pickett for getting them back to the big dance. Pickett had three standout seasons for Siena before Shrewsberry convinced him transfer to Happy Valley, and the guard’s second season with the program has been a gem in every way. Pickett has tremendous size and strength at 6’4, 210 pounds, that he leverages to bully younger opposing guards. Few players in college basketball blend scoring and playmaking better than Pickett, who finished top-five in the Big Ten in points per game and No. 2 in the country in assist rate with a ridiculous 40 percent mark. His post scoring as a nominal point guard is fantastic to watch. With Shrewsberry possibly off to a new job after this run and Pickett out of eligibility, this tournament appearance is their one big chance to make a name for Penn State basketball. — Ricky O’Donnell

Arizona v USC Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

8. Azuolas Tubelis, C, Arizona

Arizona’s star is a 6’11” Lithuanian double-double factory. Tubelis makes his living inside the arc: he’s nimble around the rim, borderline unguardable in the pick-and-roll, and is even comfortable taking the ball from baseline to baseline. He draws more fouls than anyone else in the Pac-12, a sign that defenses just don’t know what to do with him. About the only knock against Tubelis is that he isn’t a lockdown defender and has had issues getting into foul trouble this season; the Wildcats have only lost 6 games this season and 4 of those were when Tubelis had at least 4 fouls. Regardless, this team orbits around him and any opponent trying to slow Arizona down will have to throw everything they can at Tubelis first. - Adam Ward

7. Drew Timme, C, Gonzaga

Timme recently became Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer, which says a lot not only about his scoring ability (20.9 PPG this season, 17.0 across his 4-year career), but his durability and dedication to the Bulldogs. He has been absolutely dominant in both NCAA tournaments he’s appeared in, averaging 22 points and 8 rebounds per game. He’s top 15 in the nation in scoring and FG%, so as long as the Zags can feed him the ball and space the floor, he should continue to feast. Gonzaga typically has several future NBA players on their roster, but it’s Timme’s team this season: he’s leading the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and minutes played. - Adam Ward

6. Marcus Sasser, G, Houston

Sasser committed to Houston ranked as the No. 399 recruit in the country, according to 247 Sports. As a senior, he’ll enter the NCAA tournament as the best guard in America playing for a Cougars team that is one of the favorites to win the whole thing. The 6’2 guard is a dynamic pull-up shooter with deep range on his jumper, making 38 percent of his triples on 220 attempts at the end of the regular season. He’s also a dogged defender at the point of attack for what’s been a top-five defense in the country for most of the season. Houston is one of the heaviest favorites in March Madness because they have so much size, athleticism, and tenacity all over the court — but don’t discount that they have also have one of the top shot creators and shot-makers in the field with Sasser at point guard, as well. — Ricky O’Donnell

UCLA v Utah Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

5. Jaime Jaquez Jr. , F, UCLA

The Bruins have a case to be the best basketball team in the entire country, and senior wing player Jaime Jaquez Jr. is one of the most important players on the team. He’s upped his points per game to 17.5, and his three point percentage has jumped up five points, despite taking more jumpers from that range. His toughness and ability to make tough shots is crucial for the Bruins, who will be looking to win the whole thing this year. - J.P. Acosta

4. Jalen Wilson, F, Kansas

Kansas went on an inspired run to Bill Self’s second national championship last season, and then promptly lost most of their team. Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun became first round NBA draft picks, starting center David McCormack graduated, and starting point guard Remy Martin also exhausted his eligibility. This would have been considered a rebuilding year almost anywhere else, but Kansas instead headed to this year’s Big 12 tournament with the same 25-6 record they owned last year at this time. How did KU maintain its excellence after losing so many key pieces? It starts with Wilson making a superstar leap in his redshirt junior season. A 6’8, 225 pound wing, Wilson led the Big 12 in scoring this season by creating offense from all three levels for the Jayhawks. Never the most explosive athlete or the best three-point shooter, Wilson thrived with a relentless approach to hammering cracks in opposing defenses from anywhere on the floor. There were so many times this year when the Jayhawks offense felt like four guys standing around watching Wilson go to work, and somehow that was mostly an effective strategy in the toughest conference in America. The big wing scorer feels like the toughest archetype to find in college hoops, and there isn’t anyone in the mold more potent than Wilson this season. — Ricky O’Donnell

3. Brandon Miller, F, Alabama

Alabama’s best player, and arguably the best player in all of college basketball, Brandon Miller is a 6’9 freshman phenom with a sweet stroke. He leads all freshman in D1 scoring, has improved his finishing at the rim dramatically over the course of the season, and will hear his name called within the first five picks of the 2023 NBA Draft. Miller has the talent to lead the Crimson Tide to its first Final Four in school history, and possibly even further, despite being linked to the murder of Jamea Jonae Harris by former teammates Darius Miles and Michael Lynn Davis. — Jacolby Hart

2. Trayce Jackson-Davis, C, Indiana

Trayce Jackson-Davis is a throwback in more ways than one. How many McDonald’s All-Americans stay all four years in college? How many college basketball players lead their team in scoring all four years of their career? The 6’9, 245 pound big man has done that and more during a legendary career with the Hoosiers that positions him as one of the program’s all-time greatest players. Jackson-Davis’ numbers are monstrous this year: 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game. Always a skilled post scorer and putback artist, TJD’s big improvement as a senior has been his playmaking. His assists have gone up from 39 to 66 to 109 over the last three years. As double teams have crashed down in the post, he’s been able to kick out to Indiana’s shooters and serve as the hub of the offense, not just the primary scorer. Just about the only thing missing on his resume is a deep NCAA tournament run. He still has one more chance. — Ricky O’Donnell

Rutgers v Purdue Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

1. Zach Edey, C, Purdue

A year ago, Zach Edey was a sophomore center trying to find his place next to a top-five NBA draft pick in Jaden Ivey and another All-Big Ten big man in Trevion Williams. This season, the Boilermakers have run through Edey from the very start, and he’s made them Big Ten champs, a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament, and a team with legitimate dreams of making the Final Four for the first time in the Matt Painter era. Purdue may not have as much talent on paper as it did last year when they fell in the Sweet 16, but the team just fits better, and that’s because it revolves around Edey’s incomparable skills. At 7’4 and nearly 300 pounds, there hasn’t been a center this big and this dominant since Yao Ming. With four shooters around him in most lineups, Edey has all the space he needs to attack the defense in the post. He gets deep post position almost automatically, and he’s impossible to front with such a big catch radius. Edey’s size wouldn’t make him the best player college basketball alone: he also has tremendous hands, sharp footwork, and soft touch. There isn’t a team in the country with the personnel to matchup one-on-one with him, and that means he’s seen double teams all year. Edey isn’t the quickest processor — he ended the regular season with 46 assists to 73 turnovers — but his ability to read the defense has steadily improved throughout the year. Have we mentioned that Edey is the country’s best offensive rebounder, and one of its top shot-blockers, too? Basketball continues to get smaller and more skilled at every level, but as long as the rim is 10-feet high, there will always be a place for a giant as skilled and as tough as Zach Edey. — Ricky O’Donnell

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