Ranking the Top 25 Players in March Madness

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Vaughn Dalzell
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Ranking the top 25 players of March Madness was no easy task. Through much back and forth, debates and weighting who means what to their team, here is a list of the top 25 college basketball players in the country. Also included are top mid-major prospects left off the list and a few players that just missed the cut.

Here we go!

No. 1, Luka Garza, Iowa: Garza will be the John R. Wooden Award, handed out to the nation's best player. Garza averages 23.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 54.7% from the field and 40.7% from deep. The 6-foot-11 center is a difference-maker inside and out for the Hawkeyes in his senior season. He holds the highest Player Efficiency Rating in the nation (35.1).

No. 2, Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State: Cunningham will likely be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and the runner-up behind Garza for the Wooden Award. The star freshman has averaged 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game over 25 contests. He has shot 45.4% from the field, 41.2% from three and holds a 28.5% usage rate, the highest on the team. Cunningham has averaged 23.2 points per game in his last 10 contests and the Cowboys are 8-5 when he scores 20-plus.

No. 3, Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois: Dosunmu missed three of Illinois' last four regular-season games, but the one he did play, the star guard recorded 19 points, four rebounds and three assists. He has double-doubled twice and triple-doubled twice this season. In his 26 games played, Dosunmu averaged 20.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 48.8% from the field and 38.7% from three.

No. 4, Corey Kispert, Gonzaga: The senior forward has increased his scoring average from 13.9 as a junior to 19.2 this season. Kispert is also hitting 54.4% of his field goals, 44.4% of his threes (5th in NCAA) and 89.8% of his free-throws. The 6-foot-7 Kispert has scored 19 or more points in 13-of-26 games and made three or more triples in 14-of-26 outings.

No. 5, Kofi Cockburn, Illinois: Cockburn's value was highlighted with Dosunmu out for three games. He averaged 18.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 63.6% from the field. On the year, Cockburn averages 17.6 points and 9.6 rebounds. His 9.6 boards are 26th in the country and first in the Big Ten. His points are fifth in the Big Ten. Cockburn looked like a mack truck in the Big Ten tourney averaging 20.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 26.6 minutes per game.

No. 6, Drew Timme, Gonzaga: Timme is one of the most efficient players in all of college basketball. He ranks second in effective field goal percentage (66.7%), fifth in player efficiency rating (32.2), and ranks fifth in win shares (5.5), tied with Kispert. Timme averages 18.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, both top two on the Bulldogs.

No. 7, Evan Mobley, USC: Mobley recorded 87 blocks as a freshman, 3.0 per game (6th in NCAA) and played the 10th-most minutes of all players in the country (984). Mobley is averaging 16.8 points and 8.6 rebounds on the season with 3.0 blocks, 2.2 assists and 0.9 steals per game. His defensive presence and 7-foot frame earn him a spot as he is the most impactful player on the Trojans. USC is 9-1 this season when Mobley double-doubles and 13-3 when he records three or more blocks.

No. 8, Jared Butler, Baylor: Butler averages 17.1 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.3 rebounds on the season. The Bears leader has scored at least 16 points in the previous five games. While his numbers do not knock you out of the park, he leads the team in usage rate (27.2) and assist-to-turnover ratio (27.9).

No. 9, Quentin Grimes, Houston: Grimes increased his scoring average from 12.1 as a sophomore to 18.0 as a junior. The Cougars' star guard is knocking down 40.8% of his 8.0 three-point attempts per game. Grimes has scored 20 or more points in six of Houston's last eight games - currently the best eight-game scoring stretch of his career. Grimes is in his second year with Houston after transferring from Kansas.

No. 10, Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga: Suggs was a preseason favorite for the Wooden Award and while he has not quite lived up to that hype, he has had a great season. He leads the team in assists (4.5) and steals per game (2.0), while ranking third in points (13.9), rebounds (5.5) and second in usage rate (25.3%).

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No. 11, Herbert Jones, Alabama: Jones won SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, crushing the competition. Despite averaging 11.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, he holds a defensive box plus/minus of +5.6, the sixth-highest in the country. His usage rate is second on the team (23.2) and his 2.9 combined steals and blocks per game make the difference.

No. 12, Davion Mitchell, Baylor: Mitchell is averaging 17.8 points, 4.7 assists and 2.3 rebounds in the last 10 games. If Mitchell qualified with enough attempts, his percentage of 46.2% from three would rank fourth in the country. He also leads the team in steals per game (2.0) and in assists (5.4). Mitchell is in his second season with Baylor after transferring from Auburn.

No. 13, Chris Duarte, Oregon: Duarte ranks eighth in the Pac-12 with 16.7 points per game and has been one of the best players in the conference, quietly, I might add. Duarte's shot improved drastically from his junior year, going from 41.4% from the field and 33.6% from three last season to 52.4% from the field and 43.0% from deep this year. Oregon is 7-2 when Duarte scores 20 or more points this season and 11-2 in two seasons.

No. 14, James Bouknight, UConn: The Huskies are a much different team with Bouknight in the lineup. This season, UConn is 11-3 with him and 4-4 without him. UConn averages 75.2 points with Bouknight and 67.8 without him. He averages 19.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Two of UConn's three losses with him have come by a combined five points. His usage rate is also an astronomical 30.2.

No. 15, Cameron Krutwig, Loyola-Chicago: Krutwig is averaging 57.9% from the field, 15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 blocks per game on the season - all marking team-highs. In the conference tournament, Krutwig went for 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game. The 6-foot-9 255 lbs bulldozer is the only player to average double-figures for the Ramblers and was also named AP Third-Team All-America.

No. 16, Moses Moody, Arkansas: Moody was on fire to end the regular-season. In the final four regular-season games, Moody averaged 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. In the SEC Tournament, he scored five and 28 points, but grabbed eight and nine boards. He ranks third in the SEC with 17.4 points per game and is tied seventh with Luka Garza for most free-throws made in the country (134). Moody leads the Razorbacks in offensive rating (121.1) and true shooting percentage (58.7%) for players averaging over 16 minutes per game.

No. 17, Isaiah Livers, Michigan: Livers is a senior guard for Michigan, averaging double-figures for the second season and a career-high in points (13.1), rebounds (6.0) and assists (2.0). The only game he did not play this season was the loss to Ohio State to end their Big Ten Tournament. Livers scored 16 or more points in 10-of-23 games this season. When he scores 10 or more points, Michigan is 15-1 this season and 28-3 the last two seasons.

No. 18, Trevion Williams, Purdue: Williams is averaging 15.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists. He dropped 26 points and 14 rebounds in his last outing and double-doubled 10 times this season. Williams has scored 20 or more in eight games this season, they are 4-4 in that span and 5-5 when he double-doubles. The reason why Purdue hangs around most games is Williams. His 35.4% usage rate is the highest in the country.

No. 19 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova: With Collin Gillespie out for the season and Justin Moore's health taking a slight hit, Robinson-Earl's value has skyrocketed. Over his last six games to end the regular season, he averaged 16.0 points and 11.0 rebounds. He leads Nova with a 21.9% defensive rebounding percentage and fourth in offensive rating (111.9) with Gillespie out of the lineup.

No. 20, Hunter Dickinson, Michigan: In his first season with the Wolverines, Dickinson has averaged 14.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. The 7-foot-1 center has only played eight road games this season, but averages slightly better numbers at 14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. Dickinson holds the highest defensive rebounding percentage on the team (22.3%) and owns a true shooting percentage of 63.1%. He gets the nod over Franz Wagner.

No. 21, Derek Culver, WVU: Since Oscar Tshiebwe left the program, Culver has averaged 15.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game compared to 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds with him. He leads the Big Ten in rebounds per game (9.8) and ranks 10th in points (14.6). The only other player in the Big 12 to rank top 10 in both is Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham.

No. 22, E.J. Liddell, Ohio State: Liddell is averaging more points (16.6) and rebounds (6.9) on the road than at home this season (15.3 PPG, 5.9 RPG). In his last 10 games, the Buckeye star is averaging 17.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. At 6-foot-7 and 240 lbs, Liddell is a tweener who can bang down low or extend a hit the three occasionally (33.8%).

No. 23, Cameron Thomas, LSU: Thomas ranks fourth in the country with 22.6 points per game and fifth overall with 611 points. He leads the country with 176 free-throws made and fourth with 200 attempts for an 88% average. The first-year guard averages 3.4 rebounds and only 1.4 assists as he is a pure scorer. Thomas leads the team with a 29.1% usage rate.

No. 24, Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga: Ayayi is averaging 11.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game as a junior - all top four on the team. He shoots 58.3% from the field 39.7% from three. Over his last four games, Ayayi stepped his game up, averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds (one game with zero), and 2.0 assists per game.

No. 25, Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton: Zegarowski went off on senior night, tying a career-high 32 points. The Blue Jays' guard averages 15.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds on the season. In the team's wins, he averaged 16.1 points and scored double-digits in 18-of-19 victories he played in. He also extends the defense as Zegarowski has nailed three or more triples in 14-of-26 games.

JUST MISSED THE CUT

Matt McClung, Texas Tech: McClung not being on list might be shocking to some, but I am expecting more from him in March. McClung is averaging more points on the road (17.2) than at home (14.8) this season, a key indicator of individual tournament success. McClung has scored 20 or more points in 10-of-27 games with the Red Raiders.

Jahvon Quinerly, Alabama: Quinerly scored 10 or more points in 20-of-27 games. He has only started seven games for Alabama, but has been coming off the bench since Dec. 29. Quinerly averaged better numbers off there, recording 12.8 points, 2.7 assists and 2.1 rebounds. Quinerly averages 48.9% from the field and 48.1% from three off the bench. He leads Bama in assist-to-turnover percentage (23.6%) and ranks second in usage rate (24.0) and true-shooting percentage (59.9%).

Nah'Shon Hyland, VCU: "Bones" Hyland returned in the A-10 Tournament and did not disappoint. Versus Dayton, Hyland recorded a double-double of 30 points and 10 rebounds, adding three assists and three steals. Hyland scored 20 or more points in 12-of-24 games this season and averaged 19.5 per game. VCU has won eight of the previous 10 games with Hyland in the lineup.

Matt Mitchell, San Diego State: In his last season with the Aztecs, Mitchell leads the team in points (15.4) and steals (1.5) per game while ranking second in rebounds (5.5). His game is getting to the charity stripe, attempting 49 and making 39 (79.5%) over his previous eight games. San Diego State is 13-1 this season when he gets the free-throw line six or more times and 18-2 in the last two seasons.

Moses Wright, Georgia Tech: Wright leads the Yellow Jackets in points (17.4), rebounds (8.0) and blocks per game (1.6). He has scored 20 or more points in 10-of-24 outings and 19.7 points per game over his last nine outings. Georgia Tech is 8-2 when Wright scores 20 or more, winning eight in a row when he does so.

Kevin Aluma, Virginia Tech: The Wofford transfer has come into his own for the Hokies. Alumna averages 15.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 blocks and 30.4 minutes. He has scored 20 or more points five times this season and posted back-to-back monster double-doubles of 29 points and 10 rebounds, then 30 points and 10 rebounds the next game. Virginia Tech is 4-2 when Aluma double-doubles.

Jaden Springer, Tennessee: Springer is hitting 47.0% from three on the season and 44.4% from the field. Springer leads the Vols in true-shooting percentage (57.5%) and second in usage rate (26.5%). His stats do not reflect how crucial he is to this Vols team. He leads the team in points (12.5) and second in assists (2.9), while playing the fifth-most minutes (25.7).

Ja'Vonte Smart, LSU: Smart has now put together three-straight seasons of 11 or more points per game at LSU. He is averaging a career-high in points (15.9), rebounds (3.6), minutes (35.6), field goal percentage (47.0%) and three-point percentage (42.1%). LSU is 6-4 when he records 19-plus points. However, Smart leads the team with 2.8 turnovers per game, and oddly enough, they are 8-2 when he has three or more turnovers.

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts: At 24.2 points per game, he is the nation's leading scorer. The sophomore guard has scored 20 or more points in 17-of-25 games this year. Abmas has five games in the 30s and two in the 40s, with a season-high of 42. Oral Roberts is 2-0 when he scores 40.

Austin Reaves, Oklahoma: Reaves is averaging career-highs in points (17.7), rebounds (5.7) and assists (4.7) in his senior season. He has scored 19 or more in eight of the last 12 games and 16 or more in all 12.

5 MID-MAJORS PLAYERS THAT NEED SOME RESPECT TOO

Jason Preston, Ohio: Preston averages 16.6 points, 7.2 assists and 6.8 rebounds on the season. The Bobcats are 4-2 when he scores 20 or more points with losses to Illinois and Kent State.

Chandler Vauldrin, Winthrop: Vauldrin is averaging 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists on the season. He has double-doubled in four games and triple-doubled in three this season.

Kebin Obanor, Oral Roberts: Obanor averages 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Oral Roberts is 8-4 when he double-doubles this season. He is the robin if Abmas is Batman for Oral Roberts.

Javion Hamlet, North Texas: Hamlet is closing out the year strong for the Mean Green. He scored 15 or more in nine of the last 10 games and averaged 18.5 points, 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds per game in the four-game conference tournament.

Isaiah Ross, Iona: Ross is the leading scorer for the Gaels, averaging 18.4 points per game. He scored 4, 13, 14, and 15 points in the MAAC Tournament. He scored 23 or more in six-of-16 games and 30 or more three times.

NOTABLE IMPACT PLAYERS THAT WE DID NOT FORGET ABOUT

Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers: In his third season with Rutgers, Harper Jr. averages career-highs in points (15.4), rebounds (5.9) and assists (1.6). He is the son of former five-time NBA Champion Ron Harper, who three-repeated with the Bulls (1996, 97, 98) and repeated with the Lakers (2000, 01).

Scottie Barnes, Florida State: Barnes has scored 11 or more points in four of the last five games. In those five games, Barnes has averaged 13.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists on 61.3% from the field. Florida State is 7-4 when he scores double-figures, 1-3 in the last four.

Joe Wieskamp and Jordan Bohanan, Iowa: Wieskamp has Scored 10 or more points in 25 games this season. Iowa is 17-8 when he does score double-digits compared to 10-4 when Bohannon does.

Tre Mann, Florida: With Keyontae Johnson out, Mann has led the team in usage rate (25.7%), assist percentage (22.3%) and averages 14.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Trendon Watford, LSU: Watford upped his points per game average from 13.6 to 16.7 and assists from 1.7 to 3.0. The junior big man is second on the team in rebounds (7.4) and turnovers per game (2.7).

John Petty Jr. Alabama: Petty scored double-figures 13 of the first 16 games, but only six over the final 13. He has cooled off lately and shot below 50% in six of his last eight games to end the season. Petty averages 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists on 12.3 points per game as a senior.

Andrew Jones, Texas: Jones is the piece to the puzzle for Texas. When his offense is on, they are a better group. For the season, Jones averages 14.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Jones at 20-years-old was diagnosed with Leukemia in January 2018 and won the battle in August of 2018. He is truly an inspiration and the Longhorns glue.