Updated: Sep 19
While identifying the top five most underrated college basketball teams for the 2022-23 season is exhilarating, picking the five most overrated programs is just as important. College basketball is weeks away from tipping off, and while most college sports fans are focused on college football, we are analyzing the most overrated programs for the upcoming season.
Last season, my prediction for overrated teams included Gonzaga, Illinois, and, honestly, Kansas, who ultimately won the 2022 National Championship. Gonzaga lost in the Sweet 16 to Arkansas, when they were the number one overall seed in the tournament and projected, yet again, to win it all. Illinois, from my standpoint, I thought was going to lose to Chattanooga in the first round, but they pulled a rabbit out of the hat for that game, then was dominated from the tip against Houston in the second round. Though I was just two-for-three in my projections last season, I have high hopes for my projected overrated teams for 2022-23.
Five overrated college basketball teams for 2022-23
5. Providence Friars
Missing five of their top six scorers from the magical season that was 2021-22 for Ed Cooley and Providence basketball, appearing in the top 25 and being a relevantly competitive team in 2022-23 should not be the expectations for Friars' fans. The upcoming season will feature a brand new starting five, including Jared Bynum, who showed flashes of his abilities and talent, but only started in 10 games last season.
To fill his roster, Ed Cooley went shopping in the transfer portal and brought in Noah Locke from Louisville (averaged 9.6 points in 2021-22), Devin Carter from South Carolina (averaged 9.0 points and 3.8 rebounds in 2021-22), Bryce Hopkins from Kentucky (former 4-star prospect), and Clifton Moore from LaSalle and Indiana (averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks in 2021-22). Yes, some of these guys are talented and will help the roster turnover from last season, but it isn't the same.
Without Aljami Durham and Nate Watson, the Friars don't have the two players that were the backbone offensively for Providence basketball and allowed them to stay in, and ultimately win, close games. The luck will run out for Ed Cooley and the Friars this upcoming season, so don't expect much from this group as we get closer to March Madness in 2023.
4. Auburn Tigers
Where to even start with the Auburn basketball program after losing their two stars from last season: Jabari Smith Jr. and Walker Kessler. Smith Jr. ended his freshman campaign averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds, then was drafted third overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2022 NBA Draft. Kessler dominated the paint on both ends of the floor, averaging 11.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, and, an NCAA-best, 4.6 blocks before getting drafted 22nd overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Though the Tigers are returning three of their top five scorers for 2021-22, the talent needed to make a run in the NCAA Tournament and be competitive in the SEC requires a bit more than just good basketball players. The addition of Johni Broome from Morehead State (averaged 16.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 3.9 blocks in 2021-22) is definitely significant for Bruce Pearl and Auburn basketball, but it's not enough to push the Tigers over the edge to get out of the second round of March Madness in 2023.
Ranked in the top 15 in most early preseason top 25 rankings, Auburn basketball is going to be in for a rude awakening before even reaching January 2023. I don't have high expectations for the Tigers this season, but most college hoops experts do, and that's why they land at the number three spot in my overrated teams for 2022-23.
3. Illinois Fighting Illini
Brad Underwood and Illinois basketball are heading into the 2022-23 season without a definitive star to rely on, like they had in recent seasons with Kofi Cockburn and Ayo Dosunmu. The incoming roster for the upcoming season has some talent, but is clearly overrated. Incoming freshman, Skyy Clark, has some unreal abilities that, if he can grow in Underwood's system and not make mistakes, could turn into something by his sophomore or junior season.
Illinois basketball has lost all five of their top scorers from last season, and the only returning player that started in more than five games last season is Coleman Hawkins, who averaged 5.9 points and 4.3 rebounds as a sophomore and showed flashes of his potential. With all of this roster turnover, it is going to take more than just a couple of games for the Illini roster to blend well together and compete in the Big Ten.
The Illini added Texas Tech guard, Terrence Shannon Jr. (averaged 10.4 points in 2021-22) and Matthew Mayer from Baylor (averaged 9.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in 2021-22), which actually were great additions by Illinois basketball to fill in the missing pieces that are Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, and Alfonso Plummer. But, it won't be enough to keep the Illini in the Top 25 for more than the first two months of the season, then it will be downhill from there.
2. Kansas Jayhawks
The National Champions from the year before are usually overrated coming into the next season, especially when it's a program like Kansas basketball that usually has freshman replacements to fill in gaps left by upperclassmen. Like Baylor basketball, who lost in the second round to North Carolina in the 2022 NCAA Tournament after winning the 2021 National Championship, a successful regular season occurred, but it was hard to expect much from Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears.
Ranked sixth in Jeff Borzello's Way-Too-Early Top 25 Rankings, it's hard to believe that a team that is losing talents like Ochai Agbaji, David McCormack, Christian Braun, and Remy Martin, will finish in the top 10 of the final rankings in the regular season. Relenting four of their top five scorers from last season, Bill Self and Kansas basketball has added transfer guard from Texas Tech, Kevin McCullar (averaged 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 2021-22), freshman guard, Gradey Dick (5-star), and freshman center, Ernest Udeh Jr. (4-star).
Although these additions are something, along with bringing back Jalen Wilson (11.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG in 2021-22), it does not equate to much of a successful 2022-23 season for the reigning national champions. I don't expect the Jayhawks to get past the Sweet 16 in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, and possibly finishing in the middle of the Big 12, behind Baylor, Texas, and even TCU.
1. Gonzaga Bulldogs
There's only so much that Drew Timme can bring to a team without winning a championship. Timme really showed his talent and scoring ability in the 2022 NCAA Tournament, with games of 32 points and 13 rebounds, 25 points and 14 rebounds, and 25 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort against Arkansas in the Sweet 16.
It won't be surprising if Gonzaga basketball wins the WCC and earns another No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, but I expect an early-round exit, possibly before the Sweet 16 for the Bulldogs. As of right now, Gonzaga basketball is tied with Houston for the best odds (+850) to win the national title in 2023.
The loss of Andrew Nembhard is going to be way more significant than most college hoops experts are making it out to believe. Though he was just third on the team in scoring, Nembhard was the best and most important player on both sides of the floor for Gonzaga basketball in 2021-22. Obviously the presence of Chet Holmgren was impactful last season, and now his defensive length is gone as well.
While the return of Julian Strawther (averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in 2021-22) and Rasir Bolton (averaged 11.2 points in 2021-22) is critical for the upcoming season, both of those players are not the "game-changers" that Gonzaga basketball needs to push them over the edge and finally win a title. The addition of Malachi Smith from Chattanooga (averaged 19.9 points and 6.7 rebounds in 2021-22) will be meaningful, it will not make up for what Gonzaga basketball lost from 2021-22 and the expectation of being ranked in the top five and competing for a title gives the Bulldogs my number one ranking of overrated teams for 2022-23.