March Madness is about more than just brackets and upsets; it’s also a glorious showcase for the best players in college basketball.
With so many teams competing for a national championship, the tournament is always rife with future NBA talent. In the past, it’s been a launching pad for basketball legends like Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Stephen Curry, and countless others.
March Madness is thus a great opportunity to catch a glimpse of the stars of tomorrow before they leave college for the NBA Draft. It also creates exciting matchups for viewers by pitting the top collegiate players in the country against each other.
With that in mind, let’s count down the top 25 players in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.
Please note that all CBB odds and lines are courtesy of BetMGM Sportsbook as of Friday, March 18, at 10 a.m. ET.
Top 25 Players in March Madness 2022
25. Ali Ali, F, Akron
A starter on the First-Team All-Name squad, Ali is a matchup problem for anyone. The 6-foot-8 sophomore connected on over 41% of his threes this year while also displaying a soft touch around the paint.
While Ali struggled in Akron’s first-round loss to UCLA, he clearly has a bright future ahead of him.
24. Peter Kiss, G, Bryant
If 25.1 PPG doesn’t do it for you, then maybe you’ll like Kiss’s rim-rattling dunks and wonderfully entertaining on-court antics. It’s not beyond the 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior to routinely gesture toward the crowd, a la J.J. Redick during his legendary Duke days.
Kiss is a New York City kid through and through. While Bryant fell in the First Four to Wright State, he was a ton of fun to watch this year.
23. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa
Murray didn’t burst onto the scene early this season, but he has been a revelation since and boasts a higher offensive rating than the immortal Zion Williamson did at Duke. Iowa was upset by Richmond in the first round, but Murray’s season was memorable for his dynamic, almost unstoppable onslaught of offense.
22. David Roddy, G, Colorado State
The Mountain West POY is an efficient bucket (19.4 PPG on 57.4% shooting). Roddy, a junior, plays with great pace and feel despite not being the most athletic wing around.
I really like his game. How much, you ask? I had the Rams running all the way to the Sweet 16 before their first-round loss to Michigan.
21. Oscar Tshiebwe, F, Kentucky
This man’s a monster! Easily one of my favorite bigs in years, Tshiebwe — a West Virginia transfer — earned SEC POY honors after leading the nation in rebounding with 15.2 boards per game.
At 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, Tshiebwe runs the floor, guards everyone, and rebounds EVERYTHING. Oh, and he’s tied for the national lead with 27 double-doubles to boot.
Unfortunately, we won’t get to see any more of him this season after Saint Peter’s shocking win over Kentucky in the first round.
Basketball Betting Play of the Day
Eager to bet on this year’s NCAA March Madness Tournament? New BetMGM Sportsbook customers can bet $10 to win $200 in free bets.
Make a $10 moneyline bet on any game. If either team makes a three-point basket, you’ll win!
🏀 NBA Bet $10, Win $200: .
Read Anthony Cervino’s hands-on BetMGM Sportsbook review to learn more.
🤔 Want a different BetMGM welcome offer? New users can instead get up to $1,000 risk-free with code GAMEDAY. 👇
20. Tevin Brown, G, Murray State
Brown has all the makings of a March Madness star. He can shoot, score, pass, handle, and defend — just a big-time player on a very, very good 30-2 Murray State team. Perhaps we’ll even see a few shades of Ja Morant if we’re lucky.
19. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor
Arguably the best dunker in the land, Brown combines high-level rim-running with his high-wire act. Like his teammate Sochan, Brown is only 18 and still learning the game.
What will strike you most about him will be his constant intensity, effort, and those oh-so-fun slams.
18. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
A super recruit for Penny Hardaway, Duren flashes brilliant potential with his rare blend of size (6-foot-11, 250 pounds), power, length (7-foot-5 wingspan), and athleticism.
Expect a heavy dose of double teams as opponents try to lock him down, but I also anticipate the future lottery pick will handle it well and produce more of his trademark double-doubles.
- 👀 Read our full 2022 NBA Mock Draft.
17. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
I’m super high on Sochan, who’s still just 18 years old and barely scratching the surface of his special potential. In Scott Drew’s offense, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Sochan often operates as a point-forward alongside Matthew Mayer, where he showcases a rare ability to handle and pass the rock.
Given Sochan’s eminent talent, a good tournament could certainly elevate him into the draft lottery.
16. JD Notae, G, Arkansas
I’ve got the Hogs in the Final Four, which should tell you everything you need to know about my appreciation for Notae. Simply put, this man’s a walking bucket who doesn’t need a ball screen to get downhill and create all sorts of problems for the defense.
He’s got a chance of scoring 30+ points on any night and should be one of the real stars of March.
15. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State
Liddell is a super productive forward who can step away from the basket (37.6% from deep this year) as well as dominate the low block and mid-post area. He reminds me of former Buckeyes star Jared Sullinger, but I think Liddell is a slightly better athlete.
14. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke
My fellow Seattle native, Banchero is a walking double-double whose instant offense features a lethal combination of crossovers, step-backs, and mid-post moves. If Duke wants to net Coach K his sixth ring, it’ll be in large part because nobody can stop the 6-foot-10, 250-pound Banchero.
13. AJ Griffin, G/F, Duke
Griffin has shot the lights out all season, ranking third in the nation in catch-and-shoot situations, per Synergy.
When I met Griffin as a high school senior, I was struck by his sheer strength at 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds. He’s a big kid with enormous hands and tree-trunk legs that enable him to guard 1-5 at the collegiate level.
12. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois
Illinois is led by Cockburn’s dogged playing style and will rely on him to impose his will in order to avoid another first-round disappointment.
Cockburn — a First-Team All-American — can easily get you 16 and 12 (he’s got 16 double-doubles this year) with a few blocks, but it’s his ability to dictate the paint that makes him so fun to watch.
11. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn
A UNC transfer, Kessler has become arguably the best defensive weapon in America for the Tigers, where he’s a human eraser both as an on-ball and weak side defender. The 7-footer recently has already recorded double-digit blocks in two separate games this year.
10. Bennedict Mathurin, G, Arizona
A silky smooth scorer, Mathurin has me picking the Wildcats to cut down the nets for the first time in 25 years.
9. TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky
Washington’s improvement since I watched him at MSG to begin the season is impressive. A lanky, old-school guard with a tricky game to defend, Washington was one of college basketball’s most consistent performers this year prior to Kentucky’s elimination.
According to ESPN.com, his true shooting percentage was nearly 51% in 21 games against winning teams.
8. Malaki Branham, G, Ohio State
In Branham, we have a young Big Ten playmaker oozing with NBA upside. The 6-foot-5 freshman who hails from LeBron James‘s high school has a pro-ready pull-up game, refined handle, and lockdown ability. You’ll love watching him play.
- Who could be on this list in future seasons? Peek at our March Madness Breakout Players
7. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas
When I met with KU head coach Bill Self before the season, he raved about Agbaji’s development as a player. We’ve seen that come to fruition this year, as the 6-foot-5 senior wing has improved across the board in virtually every area during his four seasons with the Jayhawks.
6. Drew Timme, F/C, Gonzaga
Timme’s a baller with a wide range of skills — he can really pass and score around the basket — plus he’s the emotional edge setter for the No. 1 overall seed Zags. As long as Timme stays out of foul trouble, Mark Few’s club has their best chance at finally capturing an elusive national championship.
5. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn
Smith is the favorite of many to go first overall in the draft thanks to his stout offensive game and attacking mentality. His confidence is off the charts, which the second-seeded Tigers will need to win their first national title in school history.
4. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana
After testing the NBA draft waters last year, Jackson-Davis came back for his junior season in Bloomington in which he’s been nothing short of sensational.
A dynamic and highly versatile 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward, the former McDonald’s All-American gets it done in a variety of ways, as evidenced by his 76 points on 66.7% shooting during the Big Ten Tourney.
Sadly, he wasn’t enough to get Indiana past Saint Mary’s in the first round.
3. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
This extremely explosive human highlight reel is a sight to behold. He possesses elite speed and a tight handle that allows him to consistently split ball screens and maneuver into the lane.
Only a sophomore, the 6-foot-4 combo guard thrives under the lights and should be in line for a monster March Madness.
2. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga
The potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is shooting 41.2% from downtown while showcasing a tailor-made NBA offensive game with three-level scoring ability.
A true 7-footer, Holmgren presents tremendous issues for opposing defenses with his length and ability to switch onto guards defensively. He’s also very deft in the paint with both hands and is a joy to watch given his immense all-around skill set.
1. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin
A potential top-five draft pick, Davis is the most physically imposing guard in the country, possessing rare strength and an aggressive mindset on both sides of the floor. I have Wisconsin as a legit Final Four threat, and Davis’s capacity to score 30 while playing lockdown defense is the main reason why.