Last year, the college basketball season was essentially a three-team race with Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke. All three made it to the Final Four, and Wisconsin/Kentucky may have been the game of the year – if not the game of the last several years.
This year, however, is different.
“We haven’t had this in a long time,” former coach and current CBS Sports Network college basketball analyst Pete Gillen said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “There’s no great team, but there’s a bunch of very good teams. (There are) usually about seven or eight teams that I feel can win a national title, but I think there might be more like 16 or 17 that have a chance this year because there’s such parity.”
Gillen believes No. 2 Kansas (23-4) is the best team in the country and that the Big 12 is without question the best conference in America.
Still, what makes a great tournament team?
“I think something that people don’t talk about is a team that’s won on the road,” Gillen said. “A team that has a good road record in conference play, (a team that’s won) close games and a (team that has a) veteran coach – a coach who’s been there before, who is well-respected in the regular season and the tournament. So somebody who’s won in tough, adverse situations, in close games. When you win on the road in conference play, no matter what conference you’re in, that’s very, very telling.”
Gillen also favors teams with premier point guards, as well as teams that can make outside shots but that don’t rely too heavily on them.
“A good inside-outside game (is important),” he said. “If you just live with the three, it’s tough to win five or six games in a row if you’re just launching 28, 30 threes like some schools do.”
Like No. 1 Villanova (24-3), for example. The Wildcats’ top four scorers – Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Kris Jenkins and Jalen Brunson – are all averaging double figures, but they all rely heavily on three-point shooting. In fact, Hart, Arcidiacono and Jenkins have all attempted 118+ three-pointers entering play February 24. That means that each of those players is attempting at least 4.4 three-pointers per game.
That’s a lot of threes.
“I love their team and Jay Wright is a friend of mine,” Gillen said. “But can you win six games shooting threes the way they do? They don’t have a consistent inside game. I think a team that’s balanced inside and outside and has proven they have won on the road in conference play (will fare the best in the tournament).”