April 15, 2024

March Madness 2024: Ranking every starter for the Final Four teams from No. 1-20

1 College basketball’s leader in points, Player Efficiency Rating and Box Plus/Minus (among many, many others) gets the obvious nod at No. 1 here. Edey’s 7-foot-4 frame has helped carry Purdue to within two wins of its first-ever men’s college basketball championship. 2 Mighty UConn might not be mighty UConn without Cling Kong. UConn is 15 points per 100 better with him on floor vs. him off the floor, and he is coming off one of his best performances of the season in a five-block game vs. Illinois. 3 Sears had a great season for Alabama but has somehow stepped it up a notch in the NCAA Tournament for the lethal Tide attack. He’s averaging a team-high 24.3 points per game this March Madness for the highest-scoring offense in college basketball. 4 On a deep and seemingly infallible team, Newton has been the most consistent player for the Huskies all season. He leads the team in scoring and assists, and he’s averaging 13.8 points and 6.8 assists per game during the NCAA Tournament. 5 If you cloned UConn coach Dan Hurley and remade him as a current college player, you’d have Cam Spencer. He’s a fiery, trash-talking competitor with the game to back it up. Lethal scorer who can be dynamic as a playmaker to boot. 6 Twenty-nine points in the Elite Eight from DJ Burns spearheaded a huge upset of rival Duke. Burns has been on a bananas run for the Wolfpack as both a scorer and passer. 7 An All-ACC performer this season, Horne led NC State in scoring and 3-point shooting. He has quietly been one of the best players this March with a combined 39 points in upsets over No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 4 seed Duke. 8 Purdue’s No. 2-rated offense wouldn’t function at the same level if not for Smith, the stellar sophomore who has been one of the best point guards on the season. He averages the second-most assists per game among all players at 7.5, and his improvement as a 3-point shooter has been a huge part of Purdue’s postseason run. 9 With Karaban on the floor this season, UConn’s offense has been 30.32 points per 100 possessions better than its opponents, per Pivot Analysis data, which is second on the team behind only Clingan. He’s a knockdown shooter who has been cold from 3 during the tournament but is bound to bounce back soon. 10 Estrada can be hot and cold, but he was crucial in Alabama’s upset win over No. 1 seed North Carolina with 19 points on 9 of 17 shooting. Scoring, rebounding, passing — he does it all for this Tide team. 11 It’s fitting that Castle is Stephon’s last name, because when he’s on a moat defending, he’s unflappable. He’s a projected lottery pick with a big 6-foot-6 frame. His offense can come and go sometimes, but he has the flash to take over games when needed. 12 Nelson took control of the game vs. North Carolina and finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds. That’s not really his game — he’s an overqualified role player with size, shooting and shot-swatting — but that’s an example of how good he can be for a team dependent upon matchup. 13 Alabama’s best 3-point shooter has missed the last two games with a head injury but is likely to assume his role back in the starting lineup this weekend. He’s a 99th percentile spot-up threat for Alabama’s high-flying offense, per Synergy data, and his shooting unlocks this attack. 14 No player has nailed more tough mid-range shots during this NCAA Tournament than Morsell, per my total guess after watching him in person last week in Dallas. He’s been a key cog for this Wolfpack team in its magical March run. 15 With teammate Wrightsell sidelined, Griffen soaked up a bigger role within Alabama’s offense and acquitted himself well in the process. He’s coming off a career-high eight-assist game vs. Clemson in the Elite Eight and has hit half of his 22 3-point attempts during the NCAA Tournament. 16 Jones was a key offseason acquisition for Purdue who has given this team scoring punch and an edge with his demeanor on the floor. One of many weapons on the perimeter for the Boilermakers, who are key in their lethal 3-point attack surrounding Zach Edey. 17 Loyer jumped from a 32.6% 3-point shooter as a freshman to a 44.1% 3-point shooter as a sophomore, entrenching himself in the process as one of the sport’s best catch-and-shoot threats. He’s one of three Purdue players to finish the season shooting 40% or better from long range. 18 With Burns turning into a mini Nikola Jokic this postseason, Diarra’s role has mostly stayed the same. The big man had six blocks in the first three NCAA Tournament games and is an automatic bucket if you get the ball to him within the paint. 19 O’Connell has three games during the NCAA Tournament in which he’s logged six or more assists — including an eight-assist game vs. Oakland in the second round. He’s coming off a career-best 11-rebound showing vs. Duke and seemingly always finds a way to make an impact on winning for the Wolfpack. 20 Kaufman-Renn’s been essential to Purdue’s success all season and had some huge moments in this NCAA Tournament as well. He had 18 points and eight boards vs. Utah State in the second round and has the game to produce big numbers if called upon.