2022 NCAA Tournament: Ranking every starter for the Final Four teams from 1-20

2022 NCAA Tournament: Ranking every starter for the Final Four teams from 1-20

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The best player on the best remaining team gets the best position in our rankings. Banchero was an All-American during the regular season but he has ratcheted up his game a level in this year’s tournament, averaging 18 points per game and seven boards for the Blue Devils while operating as the team’s No. 1 option. Against two of the best defenses in the sport — Texas Tech and Arkansas in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight — Banchero scored 22 and 16, respectively, while making nearly 50% of his shots in that span. 2
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Ochai Agbaji hasn’t even been the best player on Kansas in this tournament; that distinction belongs to Remy Martin. However, he’s easily KU’s most important player. If the Jayhawks are going to win it all, they need Agbaji to snap out of his funk. The All-American has the capability to drop 30 on any given night, and his two-way impact can make or break KU’s title chances. 3
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With Justin Moore’s Achilles tear confirmed, Gillespie’s going to need to be superhero-level good if ‘Nova is going to have any shot at taking down Kansas. Thus far in the tourney he’s just been good, not great, averaging 13 points and three assists per game while taking a backseat to fellow senior Jermaine Samuels. Gillespie’s got the scoring punch to be a difference-maker if necessary, and he’s still a near-perfect combo of production + savvy who could tilt a matchup one way or another.  4
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Bacot became just the fifth player since NCAA Tournament expansion in 1985 to record at least 20 points and 20 boards in a game after turning in 20 points and 22 rebounds Sunday in a dominating win over Saint Peter’s. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 15.8 boards this tournament. UNC’s guards ultimately may be the swing position group that dictates how far its run can go, but Bacot’s rebounding and size is vital, especially with a matchup against Mark Williams of Duke on deck. 5
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The combination of Mark Williams’ size, efficient scoring and shot-blocking? You could make a case it’s worthy of making him Duke’s MOP thus far. The big man’s been exceptional, averaging 14.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and four blocks per game while affecting countless others as the anchor for the Blue Devils’ defense.  6
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Jermaine Samuels rightfully earned South Region MOP honors for Villanova after averaging 17.5 points per game for the Wildcats in four wins while defending, among others, 7-foot Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson (and other bigs) to claim the region. He’s easily been ‘Nova’s most important piece this tournament on both ends of the floor. With Justin Moore done for the season, he may assume an even bigger role on offense. 7
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The streaky nature of Caleb Love’s game makes him a questionable top-10 name here, but if you’re living or dying by his production, UNC’s done much more living this season (and this tournament). He turned in an epic 30-point performance against UCLA in the Sweet 16 and is averaging 18 per game this tournament. The shot-making threat he presents to teams anywhere on the court is a significant piece of the Tar Heels’ offense.  8
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One of Duke’s most steady, consistent presences, Wendell Moore Jr. has scored in double figures each game this tournament, all while drawing one of the toughest defensive assignments on a nightly basis. His off-the-dribble threat as a shot-maker and passer adds to Duke’s already-tough-to-guard roster.  9
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KU’s mostly been able to ride its backcourt to the Final Four with Remy Martin, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson all stepping up big this postseason. But big man David McCormack’s presence is important, even if his counting stats don’t pop off the page at you. His size, rebounding and energy are key to KU’s frontcourt, and he seems to be gaining confidence as we go. McCormack is coming off a 15-point performance in the Elite Eight, his best this postseason. 10
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Larry on the Prairie Brady Manek, a transfer talent from Oklahoma, has been the Tar Heels’ leading scorer in this tournament. He’s averaging 21.5 points and has twice turned in showing of 26 points or more — including 26 in a win over No. 1 seed Baylor in the second round. Manek’s versatility to shoot it inside and out opens up the floor for UNC’s offense, which is humming right now as he hits his stride. 11
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The rebounding tenacity of both Braun and KU teammate Jalen Wilson is what has allowed the Jayhawks to not only survive, but thrive while playing smaller lineups. Braun grabbing and going in transition is a huge part of KU’s offense. So, too, is his outside shooting; he’s made only six 3s this tournament but is routinely related upon as the team’s best shooting threat. 12
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As the leader of UNC in assists this tournament, RJ Davis is half of a really talented backcourt next to Caleb Love that is liable to explode on any given night. Davis is most consistently the setup man, but he’s shown he’s so much more than that, too. His 30-point outing in Round 2 vs. Baylor — especially with Manek getting tossed in regulation — is what most likely kept UNC’s season and title hopes alive.  13
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Duke has an assortment of stars near the top of this list, and if we were making a list of NBA talent and potential, AJ Griffin might have a real case for No. 1. I don’t feel great about having him this low, to be frank, but I’ve got to in some way acknowledge his role on this team. He can be a star or a JAG on any given night just because of the way Duke’s roster is stacked. He’s coming off his best tourney performance yet, though, after scoring 18 points in the Elite Eight, and his 3-point shot is as money as any player left standing.  14
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Villanova might legitimately only play six players in the Final Four, so Dixon, who is playing just under 30 minutes per game this postseason, is going to be massive for ‘Nova if it is to survive and advance. His impact has primarily come on the defensive end of the floor and as a rebounder, but don’t be surprised if he goes up a level with Villanova ailing.  15
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Jalen Wilson is leading KU this postseason in rebounding at 10.5 per game and his nose for the ball consistently pays off in huge situations by giving his team second-chance points and extra possessions. Wilson can also be a big scorer when called upon, though his five points vs. Miami in the Elite Eight on 1-of-8 shooting was his lowest production since mid-January. 16
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Coach K took Roach out of the starting lineup for Duke down the stretch of the season but injected him back there for the NCAA Tournament, and what a move that’s been. With the Blue Devils needing an extra shot-creator and table-setter, Roach is averaging a team-high 3.8 assists in the NCAA Tournament and just shy of 13 points per game to boot.  17
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With Justin Moore’s season-ending Achilles tear, Daniels is likely to be thrust into the starting lineup for Villanova. He’s only made a few starts, but on a team with depth issues, he’s been one of Villanova’s most productive players from the guard spot. 18
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The consummate glue guy, Leaky Black does a little of everything — defense, passing, cutting — to raise UNC’s floor on any given night. Not a huge producer in the stat sheet, but don’t discount his impact as a creator. Really tough matchup given his 6-foot-8 frame.  19
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KU’s most important point guard this postseason has not been its starter — that would be off-the-bench Remy Martin — hence the No. 19 placement for Dajuan Harris here. Still, Harris’ unselfish style of play as a capable quarterback of the KU offense is important. Not flashy, not necessarily hugely productive, but important.  20
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In two of Villanova’s four NCAA Tournament wins, Slater has scored zero points. He’s made a combined one shot since the tournament began. After a season in which he averaged just over eight points per game, the expectation is that he’s due for some positive regression as a producer for a ‘Nova team entering the Final Four shorthanded. 

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