One month before Selection Sunday for March Madness, only 20 teams boast at least four stars for a big March Madness run based on players in the top 10 percent of all players in the new www.valueaddbasketball.com ratings.
Sports Illustrated and others wrote explanations of how Value Add measures how many points per game each player is worth to their team, and of the roughly 4,000 who play each year the top 400 – or 10 percent – are considered stars.
Villanova is the only team with six stars, meaning even though Phil Booth is out with an injured hand for a few weeks, they can put a starting team of stars put on the court lead by Jalen Brunson, ranked as the 5th most valuable player in the country. Here are the 20 teams with at least four stars, with the rank of their most valuable player. For example, Gonzaga is one of only seven teams with five players in the top 400, though their top star Killian Tillie is only ranked 148th – so a very balanced team of stars with no superstar:
|Team||Top 10%||Top Rank||Player|
|Villanova||6||5||Jalen Brunson #1|
|Virginia||5||13||Devon Hall #0|
|Kansas||5||16||Devonte’ Graham #4|
|Purdue||5||27||Vincent Edwards #12|
|Nevada||5||40||Caleb Martin #10|
|Auburn||5||83||Jared Harper #1|
|Tennessee||5||114||Grant Williams #2|
|Gonzaga||5||148||Killian Tillie #33|
|Ohio St.||4||4||Keita Bates-Diop #33|
|Duke||4||8||Marvin Bagley #35|
|North Carolina||4||10||Luke Maye #32|
|Clemson||4||29||Marcquise Reed #2|
|Butler||4||37||Kelan Martin #30|
|Michigan St.||4||42||Miles Bridges #22|
|TCU||4||43||Kenrich Williams #34|
|Texas A&M||4||61||Tyler Davis #34|
|Louisville||4||69||Ray Spalding #13|
|Seton Hall||4||76||Desi Rodriguez #20|
|Notre Dame||4||102||TJ Gibbs #10|
|Missouri||4||116||Jordan Barnett #21|
The top three players are not on either of these teams, but are worth more than 11 points per game to their teams. Jock Landale of St. Mary’s is worth 11.95 extra points between offense and defense, still holding off Trae Young of Oklahoma (11.65) narrowly for the top spot.
However, the best shot at a March Madness run among the top three players appears to be Gary Clark of Cincinnati. Value Add is the only system that weights defense – and Clark is the third best defensive player in the country (-4.65 indicates he takes almost five points per 100 trips away from opponents), and the third best overall player at 11.03 points per game above a replacement player. Clark is a dominant rebounder, shot blocker and steals player for a Bearcats team that may set a record for defensive field goal percentage.
Cincinnati is the first team in decades to average more than 20 points more than their opponent, with their average score to date being a 76.5-56.1 margin of victory. They have held off American Athletic newcomber Wichita State as the most dangerous team in the conference. Cincinnati also trails only Villanova for the best 1-2 punch in the country with Jacob Evans coming in as the 23rd most valuable player in the country.
While one projection pegged Auburn as a 4-14 team this season, I went on an ESPN radio affiliate to call attention to the Value Add Basketball projection that Auburn would be the 11th best team in the country. This weekend the NCAA revealed the current top 16 teams, and Auburn is now one of the top eight teams in the country as a 2-seed if the season ended today.