Ranking The Power Conferences in Football, Basketball, Baseball

With Playoff berths and bowl games, March Madness appearances and trips to the NCAA Tournaments on the line, conversations always arise every season about which conferences are the most competitive in every sport. The SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, and Big East in basketball battle for supremacy, so let’s rank them in the major sports – football, basketball, and baseball. 

Baseball

  1. Pac-12
  2. SEC
  3. ACC
  4. Big 12
  5. Big 10

The top two in this list was pretty clear, as the Pac-12 and SEC have long been the most dominant conferences, combining for 30 College World Series titles between the two of them. The Pac-12 leads the way with 18 (titles won by an active Pac-12 member) although current members USC, Arizona State, Arizona, and Stanford have combined for 23 championships. After Spencer Torkelson was taken first overall this past year, the Sun Devils lead with four #1 overall picks in the MLB draft. The only major category the Pac-12 trails in is total CWS appearances, where they fall just short to the SEC (103-101).

The ACC comes in third, despite having just two College World Series titles as a conference. The ACC gets to Omaha frequently (96 total appearances), but they rarely bring it home as Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina represent the top 3 programs with the most CWS appearances without a championship (46). Current member Miami has four championships, but only one as an active ACC member, and Virginia has the other ring. It was a battle between the Big 12 and Big 10 for the cellar, and it was the Big 10 taking last place with only 29 total appearances in Omaha, albeit six championships. Texas and Oklahoma State have combined for 32 first round draft picks, and no Big 10 school has more than 10. 

Basketball

  1. ACC
  2. Big East
  3. SEC
  4. Big 10
  5. Pac 12
  6. Big 12

The ACC was the clear choice for #1 here. They’ve won three of the past five national championships and are tied for the most with 15 overall. They have the most NCAA Tournament appearances with 398, the most first round draft picks with 202, and tied for the most #1 draft picks with 11. No contest

After that, it got a little dicey. I was leaning towards the SEC for second, but the Big East’s recent superiority tipped them over the edge. They have three championships since 2013, whereas the SEC hasn’t won one since 2012. It was close to a toss-up for their but I went with Big East at #2, and the SEC for #3. 

After those initial three selections, the Big 10, with 11 #1 picks (T-1st), 132 1st round picks (132), and 10 national championships (4th) were the clear choice to slide into the fourth slot. They haven’t been very relevant, with only one title in the 21st century, but there’s lots of history and talent in this conference.

The Pac-12 and Big-12 were separated by a razor-thin margin and bring up the rear in the power conference rankings. The Pac-12 used to be one of the best, but they’ve faded from relevancy in recent years. Despite 15 national championships – tied for first with the ACC – the Pac-12 was largely fueled by UCLA’s dominance and their 23-year championship drought is the longest ongoing drought by any major conference. They slot in fifth, with the Big 12 bringing up the rear, running last with 50 first round draft picks, only one national championship, and next-to-last in NCAA tournament appearances. 

Football

  1. SEC
  2. Big 10
  3. ACC
  4. Pac-12
  5. Big 12

I would say it was the dramatic unveiling of the best conference of the best college sport, but did anyone ever doubt who was finishing #1 here? Led by Alabama’s recent dynasty, the SEC have 25 national championships, including ten of the past fourteen. They’re second all-time in #1 picks and first-round picks, and top to bottom, they have more elite talent and depth than any other conference.

The Big 10 and ACC were a toss-up for second place. People love to mock the ACC, but they’re the only non-SEC conference to win national championships since 2005. They may not be loaded with talent top to bottom every year, but they’ve boasted some of the best teams of this past decade, and throw in Miami’s dynasty in the late 20th, early 21st century, and the ACC isn’t the laughingstock people make them out to be. However, the Big 10 does edge them out – they have 296 first round draft picks, which ranks first, eight #1 overall picks, and 22 national championships, marks that rank third and second respectively. Their biggest knock is a lack of recent national success – Ohio State has won two titles this century, but that’s it for the Big 10.

Bringing up the rear is the Pac-12 and Big 12 with championship droughts of 16 and 15 years respectively. The Pac-12 has featured some elite talent with 14 #1 draft picks, but they rank last in total first-round picks and national championships. USC’s mini-dynasty from 2003-2005 helps the Pac-12 avoid the basement, an honor belonging to the Big 12. The Big 12 only have two championships since 1985 – every other conference has at least three titles since 1997. Oklahoma has really been the only team doing anything on the national level since Vince Young and the Longhorns in 2005, which lands them in the basement.

Overall, regarding these three major sports, the SEC has to be considered the most complete conference, with the ACC coming in a close second. Both came in with a trio of top-3 finishes and a #1 ranking. Overall, I’d rank the SEC #1 and the ACC 2. After that, I’d say the Pac-12 takes #3, fueled by their dominance on the diamond, and the Big 10 clocks in at #4. The Big 12 was the clear choice for last place, as they took last place in two of the three sports, with their fourth-place finish in baseball saving them from a sweep of the cellar.

BIG 10 Basketball: Forwards/Centers To Watch

The 2019-2020 college basketball season may have abruptly ended prior to March Madness, but it’s not too early to take a look at next season – we will be looking at a few of the top players in college basketball entering next season. Today, we’re checking out the top three returning forwards and centers in the Big 10. Incoming freshman recruits were not included in these rankings – these only cover players who have already played a collegiate season (or at least, most of one season). 

#3. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana

Jackson-Davis may have soared under the radar on a mediocre Indiana team next year, but even if he can’t single-handedly lift the Hoosiers back to glory, the rising sophomore forward looks ready for big things next season. Jackson-Davis’s stats were relatively modest in his freshman campaign  – 13.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game – but he shot 57% from the field and put up some massive games in high-profile contests. After putting up solid numbers in a breezy start to Indiana’s non-conference slate, Jackson-Davis raised some eyebrows with a 15 point, 8 rebound performance against #17 Florida State. 25 points and 15 rebounds in an overtime victory over Nebraska, a double-double against #21 Iowa, and a 27-point, 16-rebound effort at Minnesota highlighted a few of his top performances in conference play. The Big 10 was one of the most wide-open conferences, so the Hoosiers have a chance to shoot back up into the mix for the top seeds, and expect Jackson-Davis to be leading the charge. 

#2. Trevion Williams, Purdue

After averaging 5.2 points per game in his freshman year, Williams upped his numbers to 11.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per contest. A 52% shooter, Williams has a clear weakness at the free throw line, but his game off the charity stripe has been on an upwards trajectory since he arrived at Purdue, and I feel like he’s ready to explode in his junior year. He showed hints at such an explosion in Big 10 play this past season, recording double-doubles in games against #13 Penn State, at Wisconsin, and versus Michigan. His true monster performance came in a brutal double-overtime loss at Michigan, where, in front of a hostile crowd in Ann Arbor, Williams posted 36 points and a whopping 20 rebounds. He’s showcased high ceiling and potential to this point, and that looks like it’s getting ready to come together, which is great news for the Purdue Boilermakers. 

#1. Luka Garza, Iowa

No chance it was going to be anyone else. This is, of course, assuming Garza comes back to the Hawkeyes for another season, which it seems likely he will do. He is currently not projected as a selection in most mock drafts, but the Iowa star was an absolute beast this past year, one of the consensus top-2 players in the country. Averaging a touch under 24 points and 10 rebounds per game, Garza scored 20+ points in his final sixteen contests of the year. Picking out his top games is to pick diamonds from piles of jewels. He put up 44 points on Michigan when they were ranked #4, 38 points against Indiana, and 34 points and 12 rebounds against a ranked Penn State squad. No contest here, Garza is the best returning player in the country, and clearly in the Big 10.

ACC Basketball: 3 Returning Forwards/Centers To Watch

The ACC has long been considered the best basketball conference in America, but with a lot of there top players in the paint graduating or moving on to the NBA, they’ll be looking for some new players to step up and star in the upcoming season. Thankfully, there’s some intriguing talent within the conference, so here are three returning players to watch this upcoming season.

#3. D.J Funderburk, NC State

A major contributor for the Wolfpack for two seasons, Funderburk looks primed for a big season with an ACC team on the rise in NC State. While he didn’t post massive numbers, Funderburk was quietly efficient, saving his best for the Wolfpack’s biggest wins. He dropped 21 points on Duke in their 22-point blowout of the Blue Devils and a double-double in a critical victory over Clemson. A 61% shooter from the field, Funderburk will look to help NC State challenge some of the traditional powers in the ACC in 2020-21.

#2. Malik Williams, Louisville

Williams is a highly intriguing player heading into next year, as he has not been a go-to player in Louisville’s offense during his three years with the Cardinals, playing under twenty minutes per game every season, averaging just 8.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. However, the Cardinals are losing primary scoring option Jordan Nwora, and Williams may have a chance to get some more minutes on the court and impact a few big games for Louisville. Despite limited opportunities, Williams posted two double-doubles in ACC play, against Pittsburgh (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Syracuse (14 points, 13 boards). He played a combined 43 minutes in those two games, so it’s exciting to consider Williams’ potential when given more than a part-time playing role in Louisville’s lineup.

#1. Juwan Durham, Notre Dame

I’m really high on Durham, both because of what he flashed in minimal playing time with the Irish, but also because of how critical the man in the paint is for Notre Dame’s offense. The Irish graduate one of the best big men in the country in John Mooney, and they’ll be looking for the 6’11 Durham to fill that massive hole in the offense. Durham didn’t have many opportunities to put up numbers last year, averaging just 7.8 points per game, but with Dane Goodwin, Prentiss Hubb, and Nate Laszewski chucking up threes at ungodly clips, expect Durham to get plenty of wear and tear in the paint, bringing down rebounds and putting in second-chance points. The Irish climbed from the cellar of the ACC back to a seventh seed in the cancelled ACC Tournament, so if the Irish hope to continue their conference climb, they’ll need Durham to be a key factor in that rise.

Thomas: Best and Worst Atmospheres in College Basketball

Yesterday, we looked at the best and worst atmospheres in each Power 5 conference in college football, and today we’ll do the same on the court, checking in on the best college basketball atmospheres in the power-6 conferences (including the Big East). 

Big East

Worst Atmosphere: DePaul

A really bad team makes it hard to bring in fans, and the Blue Demons exemplify that, with easily the lowest per-game attendance in the Big East. They were just 3-15 in conference play this past season, have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2004, and they’ve had a share of last place in the Big East in ten of the past twelve seasons. Safe to say the student body isn’t exactly coming out in droves for most of their games. 

Runner Up: Georgetown

Best Atmosphere: Creighton

It was a tough race at the top for the best atmosphere in the Big East, but the nod goes to the Blue Jays who are in the Big East, despite hailing from Nebraska. Nebraska loves their college sports teams – the Cornhuskers were ranked the top Big 10 football atmosphere yesterday – and Creighton is no exception. It didn’t hurt that Creighton was really good this past season, but as the Blue Jays rallied down the stretch to claim the Big East regular season title, CHI Health Center Arena was roaring in Omaha, led by the notorious “Creighton Blue Crew”.

MEMPHIS, TN – FEBRUARY 4: Fans of the Memphis Tigers “Blue Crew” cheer on their team during a game against the Xavier Musketeers on February 4, 2012 at FedExForum in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis beat Xavier 72-68. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Runner Up: Marquette

Pac-12

Worst Atmosphere: Washington State

The Cougars are much more of a football school – whether it was Anthony Gordon throwing a million touchdowns, or the iconic Gardner Minshew taking snaps under center, Washington State has had some studs on the gridiron. The same cannot be said on the court, where the Cougars haven’t placed in the NCAA Tournament since 2008. ‘08 was also the last year they posted a winning record in Pac-12 play. Coming of entertaining football seasons, basketball just isn’t much of a product to be watched in comparison. 

Runner Up: USC

Best Atmosphere: Arizona
The Wildcats have the second-biggest arena by capacity in the Pac-12, yet they were one of just two teams to produce a sellout in 2019, and the only team to record multiple, as Arizona home games saw capacity crowds flood through the gates four times last season. The Wildcats are traditionally a contender for Pac-12 glory, and they’re fans get hyped down there in Tucson. Easy call here. 

Runner Up: Washington

Big 12

Worst Atmosphere: TCU
The Horned Frogs aren’t even a top-3 program in their own state, so it’s hard to generate a lot of excitement at their games. Their crowds are among the smallest in the Big 12, which has several teams that just pack crowds into their arenas night after night. It was a battle for the bottom between two Texas programs, and TCU loses out as the worst atmosphere in the Big 12. 

Runner Up: Baylor

Best Atmosphere: Kansas

Was there any doubt? Kansas is one of the toughest places to play, and with a horrific football program, gamedays at Allen Fieldhouse is where it is at, if you’re part of Jayhawk nation, or just a fan of great college basketball. The long-time dominant force of the Big 12, Kansas has one of the best homecourt advantages in college sports, backed by a rocking and raucous crowd every night. 

Runner Up: Iowa State

Big 10

Worst Atmosphere: Rutgers

We spat all over Rutgers in football, and unfortunately for the Scarlet Knights, we have to the same here. At least in football, they can be considered the best college team in the state (as sad a statement as that is for New Jersey), but they don’t have that notoriety in basketball, as Seton Hall is a far superior team most seasons. Rutgers was actually not horrible this past season, but years of struggles makes any athletic atmosphere less than electric at Rutgers. 

Runner Up: Northwestern

Best Atmosphere: Wisconsin

Maybe a bold pick, but the Badgers actually in the Top-5 for average attendance per home game. The Badgers are a few years removed from their era of March magic, making a couple of Final Four runs and beating undefeated Kentucky in 2015, but Wisconsin still packs in fans for home games to cheer on a team that is often in Big 10 championship contention. 

Plenty of passionate basketball fans up in Wisconsin

Runner Up: Nebraska

ACC

Worst Atmosphere: Wake Forest

In a basketball-crazed conference, the Demon Deacons’ consistent struggles on the court struggle to bring fans to their ACC contests, where they are oftentimes uncompetitive. Wake pulls an upset here and there, but they are not consistent enough in their success to entice too many fans to come through the gates. 

Runner Up: Boston College

Best Atmosphere: Duke

This is an absolute no-brainer. With a 9,314 seat arena, the Duke Blue Devils pack in 9,314 fans to every home game, with the thundering cheers of the “Cameron Crazies” leading the way. No matter where you sit, you’re close to the action, and you really can’t beat the atmosphere in Durham on gameday, where they also host the biggest rivalry in college basketball once a year. 

Runner Up: Virginia

SEC

Worst Atmosphere: Texas A&M
When basketball season is sandwiched between football at Kyle Allen Field and baseball, where the Aggies have one of the most vocal fanbases, the action on the court tends to play second fiddle to their primary sports. The Aggies don’t have extremely small crowds, but the SEC has some of the best atmospheres in the country, and they simply don’t bring enough tradition to the table to rise out of the cellar. 

Runner Up: Ole Miss

Best Atmosphere: Kentucky

The Wildcats have NBA draft lottery talent playing every single year, and fans are bunching together at the gates trying to get into Rupp Arena. One of the most historic programs in the nation, Kentucky is a must-see team on any die-hard college basketball fan’s to-do list. 

Runner Up: Tennessee

Its Been a Wild Ride for Steven F. Austin

When you think of sports in the state of Texas you think of a cheating baseball team from Houston, Longhorns in Austin, and high schoolers playing under Friday Night Lights. But what you don’t think about is the athletics from a school on the state’s east coast – a university named after the “father of Texas” that has had the strangest past six months.

On November 26 Stephan F. Austin University’s mens basketball team went into Cameron Indoor Stadium and shocked the world-beating, then-undefeated #1 Duke 85-83 in overtime on a buzzer-beating layup. The Blue Devils actually paid the Lumberjacks $85,000 to come to Durham and beat them, despite being 29 point underdogs. The win was the biggest ever in the history of S.F Austin basketball. 

Flash forward four months and that same ‘Jacks hoops team was riding a 15 game winning streak, 28-3 overall, and coming off a regular-season Southland conference championship. But just days before that conference tournament was set to begin the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation, denying SFA, the top seed in the Southland Conference, was denied the opportunity to go back to the NCAA tournament. 

On the gridiron, the school’s football team went through a rollercoaster of emotions as well. On February 5th, the team landed the #1 FCS recruit in the country. Barnard Wright, who played his high school ball at the famous Carter High that was featured on ESPN 30 for 30, chose to play for the Lumberjacks over offers from Clemson, Alabama, and LSU, among others. Wright is a defensive tackle at 6’3” 325 that looked to turn SFA from a 3-9 team in 2019 to playoff contender in 2020, or so he thought. 

Wright and the rest of the Lumberjacks were banned from postseason play in 2020 for having an academic progress score below the 930 threshold. APR scores were implemented in 2013 and a 930 score predicts a 50% graduation rate. S.F Austin’s baseball, basketball and football teams will not be able to participate in any postseason play next year, but the school has the option to push the penalty back to the 2021-22 school year because of the virus. Along with the three lumberjack teams, Alabama A&M, Alabama St., Coppin St., Deleware St., Grambling St., Howard, McNeese St., Prairie View A&M., and Southern all have athletic teams that are penalized as well.

It has been a roller coaster for Steven F. Austin University athletics over the past 6 months. But regardless of their major victories on the basketball court and the recruiting front, those accomplishments won’t raise any banners, and that’s the one thing that is for certain in this wild and unprecedented era for the Lumberjacks: No national champions for the SFA baseball, basketball, or football team.

Cal Christoforo’s Weekend Takeaways: Give Clemson a chance

March Madness got itself started early this year, with yet another crazy weekend shaking up the rankings and wetting our appetite for postseason play to get going. Some mid-major tournaments start this week, but a majority of playoff basketball starts next week. While we anxiously await the commencement of the postseason, here are a few takeaways from last weekend. 

Don’t sleep on the defending national champions

  • Hit hard by the draft, Virginia has struggled to live up to the hype of a defending national champion, spending most of the season unranked. Although they are looking to grab a #4 seed in the ACC Tournament, they have been a clear tier below the top trio of Florida State, Louisville, and Duke. At one point 12-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play, however, the Cavaliers have embarked on a 9-1 stretch, and they are currently on a 6-game win streak. In that stretch, Virginia took down Florida State and then Duke this past Saturday. Five of their past six wins have been low-scoring, one-possession victories, bringing about how sustainable their success is, but after last year’s run fueled by tight defensive victories, I wouldn’t be sleeping on the Cavaliers in March. 

Big 10 is Big Average

  • The Big 10 may get 10+ teams into the NCAA Tournament, but don’t be expecting too much from any of their representatives. For a while, the Big 10 looked like a highly competitive conference in which every team had a chance, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they simply don’t have an elite team. Maryland is probably the closest, with a 23-6 record, but they struggle to win on the road and just got manhandled by Michigan State on their home court. Only two teams in the conference have winning records away from home, with six teams having three or less wins. Good teams win away from home, elite teams do it consistently, and the Big 10 hasn’t shown that they are capable of doing so. 

Clemson should be in the NCAA Tournament discussion

  • Granted, Clemson has one of the weirdest resumes in college basketball, with some bad losses, but they do boast three Top-10 wins over Duke, Florida State, and Louisville. Given their propensity for upsets, Clemson would be a very fun team to watch in March, and given the high quality of their wins, they should absolutely be considered for the NCAA Tournament, and the fact that very few projections even have them on the bubble is insane.

February 28-March 1: Nathaniel Lapoint’s Weekend Takeaways

The college basketball world continues to get crazier. A streaking Creighton team lost by 20 to one of the worst Power-6 teams in the country; Michigan State went into Maryland beat the Big 10 leaders, Baylor was stunned by TCU, and that was just a few of the headlines. I can’t unpack the whole weekend in a few bullet points, but here’s three of my takeaways. 

Duke needs to figure it out

  • After beating Notre Dame by 34, the Blue Devils were 22-3, and streaking fast, heading towards a possible #1 seed. Fast forward just over two weeks later, and Duke has lost three of four, all to unranked teams on the road. They lost by 22 to NC State, a bubble team at best, to Wake Forest, one of the worst teams in the ACC, and then to Virginia. The UVA loss on its own is not horrible, but Duke has now lost three straight road games, and in their two away games prior, they barely survived BC and UNC, another pair of basement dwellers. Championship teams can win away from home, and Duke is looking more and more incapable of that by the day. 

Dayton is ridiculously good

  • They had two early losses, and the Flyers flew under the radar due to the dominance of traditional mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga and the stunning success of San Diego State. But with both of those squads losing games recently, Dayton has flown into the mix for a #1 seed, and they are most certainly a team to watch as March Madness commences. They’ve won 18 straight and are passing every potential test with flying colors. As for the ‘championship teams win on the road’? Dayton is 8-0 in true road games, and their two losses are neutral court defeats by a combined 8 points to #1 Kansas and Colorado, who has been in and out of the Top 25 this season. Beyond that? Dayton has looked almost flawless; I wouldn’t want to be facing this squad in a couple of weeks. 

Michigan State is peaking at the right time

  • Michigan State has underwhelmed for much of the year, but with their most important basketball yet to be played, the Spartans seem to have found their form at the right time. Michigan State had lost four of five, punctuated by a February 15th loss at home to Maryland. Michigan State got some of their mojo back with a 21-point road win over a hapless Nebraska squad, and then they got a big home win over Luka Garza and the #18 Iowa Hawkeyes. Then came a road date with the Terrapins, just two weeks after their tough home loss, except this time, the Spartans picked up a victory by double-digits. The Spartans are getting lots of scoring outside of star guard Cassius Winston, and they are headed in the right direction with the tournament approaching.

Cal Christophoro’s College Basketball All-Star Starting 5

Each of our podcast personalities are picking a college basketball All-Star starting lineup. This season has been known for its chaos and lack of one true standout star, which makes this exercise as none of our team’s had more than two of the same players as another lineup. Here is Cal Christoforo’s squad:

Point Guard: Markus Howard – Marquette

  • You may want your point guard to be a great game manager, distributing the ball, not turning the ball over, making safe plays to win the games. Kind of like a Ryan Tannehill of college basketball. And that can work, as the Titans proved this year, but I want a Patrick Mahomes running my offense, a guy that can absolutely take the game over and single-handedly lift his team to victory. Howard is the best guard when it comes to this ability, and it’s not close. He averages 27.6 points per game, and when it comes down to clutch time, I want a guy who can make a shot from anywhere on the court. 

Guard: Jordan Nwora – Louisville         

  • Nwora has been a very capable leader of the Louisville offense, and with 7.4 rebounds per game, he’s one of the best rebounding guards in the country. He’ll help clean the glass when Howard misses and making a bevy of his own shots as well – Nwora averages 18 points per game on 44% shooting, and he’s absolutely capable of taking over a game if necessary. 

Guard: Anthony Edwards  – Georgia 

  •  Don’t overlook this man just because he plays for Georgia. The Bulldogs may not be going dancing this year, but Edwards is definitely one of the best players in the country. He can also rebound very well for a guard – picking 5.4 boards per game, and he offers yet another perimeter scorer to complement Howard. Edwards averages 19.5 points per game playing in a brutal SEC as the best player on a bad team, meaning every single team he plays is gameplanning to stop him. When they have to deal with Nwora and Howard too, Edwards will be free to ball out. 

Forward: John Mooney, Notre Dame

  • Leading the nation with 23 double-doubles, Mooney has been a force for the Irish all year. He can occasionally shoot it from three, but he rebounds like a maniac and imposes his will in the paint. With Notre Dame running a 4-guard offense very often, Mooney is usually the only man inside the paint, helping facilitate the ball movement, and taking over games when necessary. If I’m looking for players that consistently put up great numbers to take me on a tournament run, I’m definitely taking Mooney.

Center: Vernon Carey, Duke

  • Having scored 25+ points five different times and is capable of dominating the boards, having collected up to 17 rebounds in a contest. With Mooney already inside, Carey can focus a little less on rebounding and more on attacking the rim and getting easy buckets in the paint whenever the 3s aren’t falling.

Coach: Bruce Pearl – Auburn

  • You love to see a coach get fired up, and that’s exactly what Bruce Pearl does, consistently getting his guys going for big games, delivering passionate pregame speeches and getting hyped up after a huge win. Pearl has also turned a team that was under .500 for five straight years before he started his tenure into a Final Four team by his fifth season. He’s also on pace to lead the Tigers to their third straight tournament appearance, the first time they’ve done that since 1984-1988. Best coach in the nation. Period. 

Andrew DeGeorge’s College Basketball Starting 5

Each of our podcast personalities are picking a  All-Star Starting 5 for college basketball; here is Andrew DeGeorge’s team:

This task is a tough one, but ultimately, I selected a low-turnover team with some dominant inside scoring to lead the way. Here is my full squad. 

Point Guard: Payton Pritchard – Oregon

  • I said it on last weekend’s takeaways, but I fully believe Pritchard is the best point guard in the country. He’s gritty, doesn’t turn the ball over, and shoots the ball at a 46% clip. He can also distribute the ball, racking up 5.5 assists per game and turning the ball over just 2.7 times. His efficiency and ability to both pass and shoot led me to selecting Pritchard as my point guard. 

Guard: Myles Powell – Seton Hall

  • This may be a slightly surprising pick, but I believe Powell is the driving force behind Seton Hall’s surprising season. The Pirates have not been higher than a 6-seed since 1993 and haven’t made it past the opening weekend of March Madness since 2000. With Powell leading the way, the Pirates look primed to break both of those streaks this year. Their point guard is averaging 21.3 points per game – the highest of my guards – and he will be a spectacular option off of Pritchard, whose shooting prowess will draw defenses away from the Seton Hall star. 

Guard: Elijah Hughes – Syracuse

  • I’ve gotten to see Hughes several times in person and I’ve been impressed. He grabs the most rebounds (5.1 per game) and turns the ball over the least (2.3) out of all my guards. He scores 18.8 points per game, the lowest of my three guards, but Hughes is a trustworthy guy with the ball in his hand, and he will play gutsy basketball and make the right decision most of the time. He probably will not be a primary scorer for this team, but he has the toolkit to impact the game in other ways. 

Forward: Luka Garza – Iowa              

  • Garza is one of the best paint players in the country, and he could start at either forward or center for my team. I’m putting him at forward for the relatively arbitrary decision that my other big man is slightly taller, but either way, I expect Garza to be a huge factor offensively for my team. He leads my squad on 23.6 points per game while also grabbing 9.6 rebounds. He has made a relatively mediocre Iowa team relevant through his spectacular play, and with a better supporting cast, I trust the Iowa big man to be even more potent in this lineup. 

Center: Udoka Azubuike – Kansas

  • While Azubuike does not boast the same numbers as some of the premier inside scorers in the country, it is partially because his role on the Jayhawks does not require him to do so. He averages 13.4 points per game on a stunning 74.4% shooting percentage, while grabbing 10.4 rebounds per game. He’s one of just a few players to average a double-double, and he constantly gets free in the paint. His biggest downside is occasionally being limited by foul trouble, but Azubuike is an elite talent, having a 7’0, 270-pound center with his skill is too good to pass up, so he cracks my starting lineup. 

Coach: Bill Self – Kansas

  • Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk. Bill Self has never missed the NCAA tournament when coaching Kansas, and he has never lost more than 10 games in a season. He’s got plenty of NCAA tournament experience, he’s been to two Final Fours, and he’s won it all once. He’s got what it takes to win, and with a lineup this talented, I’ll take Self to guide them to the finish line. 

Nathaniel Lapoint’s College Basketball All-Star Starting 5

Each of our podcast personalities discussed an all-star starting five in our most recent podcast, and so now, we’re publishing each of their respective teams. With no clear best player and a wide range of talent available, picking one starting lineup is a tough task. However, here is Nathaniel Lapoint’s best shot. 

Point Guard: Payton Pritchard – Oregon

  • When it comes to the point guard position, there is nobody in the country better at running an offense than Pritchard. He has the clutch gene, seen in his recent 38-point performance against Arizona, he can both score and distribute the ball efficiently, averaging 5.5 assists and 20.1 points per game on 46% shooting, one of the highest shooting percentages by a guard in the country. No doubt that Pritchard is quarterbacking the offense here. 

Guard: Devon Dotson – Kansas

  • The Jayhawks are the best team in the country, and Dotson makes this squad go. All due respect to Udoka Azubuike in the paint, but the Kansas big man is not nearly as relevant without Dotson drawing so much defensive attention. And even with the attention, Dotson averages 18 points per game on 46.4% shooting, turning the ball over just 2.3 times per game. Pretty good guard to help Pritchard run the show. 

Guard: Markus Howard – Marquette

  • After securing two of the most efficient shooters in Pritchard and Dotson, the third guard slot belongs to Markus Howard, who leads the nation in three-point shooting. Although he shoots at a slightly more inconsistent clip, just over 41%, Howard launches up such a volume of 3-pointers that he is averaging over 27 points per game. His large quantity of shots and points, combined with the efficient play of Dotson and Pritchard create a dynamic scoring trio around the arc. 

Forward: Vernon Carey – Duke

  • One of several Duke stars, Carey puts up a solid 17.6 points per game and grabs just under nine rebounds. He shoots at a 58% clip, mostly from inside the paint, and he provides a powerful scoring option inside, if my trio of guards are struggling to get open looks.

Center:  Luka Garza  – Iowa

  • Garza was a pretty easy pick to be my center. He’s one of the hottest players in the country right now, scoring 20+ points in all but two games of 2020. The Hawkeyes lean on their big man, who draws a ton of attention and still drops almost 24 points a game while cleaning the glass to the tune of 9.6 rebounds per game. Shooting at 55% and averaging 1.8 turnovers per game, the lowest on the team, Garza provides efficient and lethal inside scoring. Teams can’t guard Garza when he’s the best player on his team – try guarding him when he’s got three of the best guards in the country handling the ball. 

Coach: Brian Dutcher – San Diego State

Dutcher deserves loads of credit for what he has done in San Diego. He’s taken the Aztecs from a middling Mountain West squad to potential #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, having just made the dance just once in the past four years. San Diego State wasn’t even projected to win the Mountain West Conference before the season, yet they’ve compiled a 27-1 record and a top-5 ranking. Lots of respect for the players out there, but without Dutcher at the helm, I don’t think this team is close to where it’s at.