College Sports Madness Top 44 Previews 2021-22

Ignatius L Hoops

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It's that time of year. College Sports Madness's begins the countdown.

44 Mississippi State
43 Colorado (former Gopher commit, Lesila Finau, is now a senior)
42 Marquette (Karissa McLaughlin (Purdue) and Kennedi Myles (Illinois) join the Golden Eagles)
41 Oklahoma State
40 Arizona State (Mael Gilles we remember from Rutgers)
39 Duke (Former Badger starter, Imani Lewis, joins a bevy of transfers to Durham)
38 Gonzaga
37 Michigan State (Tamara Farquhar's (Purdue) rebounding prowess joins the Spartans)
36 Ole Miss (Last season, former Terp 6'5" Shakira Austin led the Rebels to respectability)
35 Northwestern (Can Anna Morris step it up?)
34 Texas (Knocked Maryland out of the NCAA Tournament before being erased by S. Carolina)
33 Florida Gulf Coast (Former Buckeye, Kierstan Bell, had a phenomenal season for the Eagles)
32 BYU (Defeated Rutgers 69-66 in first round of NCAA Tournament)
31 Georgia
30 Missouri State (Amaka Agugua-Hamilton's Lady Bears returned to the Sweet Sixteen)
29 Arkansas (Destinee Oberg, now a junior, season-played 23 minutes in SEC games last season)
28 DePaul (One time Gopher commit, Deja Church, is now a Blue Demon Junior)
27 South Florida (Benilde's Patience Williams joins an international roster)
26 Virginia Tech (Former Boilermaker starting guard Kayana Traylor joins the Hokies)
25 South Dakota (Hannah Sjerven returns for the Coyotes)
24 LSU (Kim Mulkey)
23 Notre Dame (Niele Ivey tries to live up to the hype)
22 Arizona (Defeated UConn but were 0-3 versus Stanford including the NCAA title game)
21 Georgia Tech (Lost to South Carolina 76-65 in the Sweet Sixteen)
20 Texas A&M (Destiny PItts, SEC 6th Woman of the Year, returns for her Covid year)
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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Arizona State Sun Devils

Overall Rank: #40
Conference Rank: #6 Pac-12

Arizona State with Rutgers transfer Mael Gilles hosts the Gophers in Tempe on November 12.

Arizona State finished last season with a sub .500 Pac-12 record for just the second time since 2000. With history like that, last season was likely an anomaly. And even in a bad season, the Sun Devils managed to reach the WNIT and finish 12-12 overall. Coach Charli Turner Thorne returns four starters and a nice group of newcomers to help start a new NCAA Tournament streak in 2021-2022.

2020-21 Record:
12-12, 6-9
2020-21 Postseason: WNIT
Coach: Charli Turner Thorne
Coach Record: 476-280 at Arizona State, 516-320 overall

Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Eboni Walker, Forward, 7.4 ppg
Sydnei Caldwell, Guard, 4.4 ppg
Iris Mbulito, Guard/Forward, 2.9 ppg
Jamie Loera, Guard, 2.8 ppg

Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Taya Hanson, Senior, Guard, 12.6 ppg
Jaddan Simmons, Sophomore, Guard, 10.8 ppg
Katelyn Levings, Sophomore, Forward, 5.7 ppg
Maggie Besselink, Sophomore, Guard/Forward, 5.1 ppg

Jayde Van Hyfte, Senior, Forward, 3.0 ppg
Imogen Greenslade, Sophomore, Center, 1.4 ppg
Gabriela Bosquez, Senior, Guard, 1.2 ppg
Sydney Erikstrup, Sophomore, Guard, 0.8 ppg

Key New Players
Ayzhiana Basallo, Senior, Guard, Transfer from San Jose State
Mael Gilles, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Rutgers
Jade Loville, Senior, Guard/Forward, Transfer from Boise State
Meg Newman, Freshman, Forward
Isadora Sousa, Junior, Guard, JC Transfer

Projection:
Taya Hanson will be the senior leader of this group. She led the team with 12.6 points and added 4.3 rebounds. Hanson was also the only player that was a threat at all to hit a three-pointer last season. The team as a whole made just 5.2 three-pointers per game at a 26.4 percent clip. Hanson made nearly half of the team’s long balls and connected on 34.4 percent of her attempts. Jaddan Simmons is a good scorer when attacking the basket and the point guard averaged 10.8 points and 2.7 assists during her freshman campaign. Wing Maggie Besselink had a very promising freshman year as well, averaged 5.1 points and a team high 5.7 rebounds. Katelyn Levings is yet another sophomore who earned a starting role as a freshman. The 6-3 forward averaged 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds. The return of Jayde Van Hyfte will add an experienced presence in the frontcourt. She missed nearly all of last season, but was a starter in 2019-2020. All five newcomers have the potential to make a big impact and that will provide the Sun Devils with the depth they need to creep up the conference standings. Jade Loville was a starter at Boise State last season and averaged 17.1 points per game. Mael Gilles comes from Rutgers where she has been a starter for the last two years. Ayzhiana Basallo could be the answer to ASU’s shooting problems. Two years ago, at San Jose State, she hit 45.4 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc and averaged 18.5 points per game. Junior college All-American Isadora Sousa is a proven shooter as well and incoming freshman Meg Newman will add another dynamic to the frontcourt.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 54.0 (315th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 56.7 (23, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 33.3 (327, 12)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.0 (207, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.2 (232, 11)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 26.4 (307, 11)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.0 (148, 6)
Rebound Margin: 1.1 (129, 6)
Assists Per Game: 11.8 (230, 8)
Turnovers Per Game: 16.0 (187, 9)


Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:

#31 Meg Newman
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Michigan State Spartans

Overall Rank: #37
Conference Rank: #7 Big Ten

Michigan State snuck into the NCAA Tournament last year; the tenth appearance under Coach Suzy Merchant. The Spartans lost in the first round to Iowa State, but now the team’s top seven scorers including all five starters are back. That should lead to yet another NCAA Tournament appearance for the Spartans.

2020-21 Record:
15-9, 8-7
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Suzy Merchant
Coach Record: 296-157 at Michigan State, 497-277 overall

Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Janai Crooms, Guard, 5.1 ppg
Kendall Bostic, Forward, 4.2 ppg
Mardrekia Cook, Forward, 3.6 ppg

Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Nia Clouden, Senior, Guard, 18.7 ppg
Alyza Winston, Junior, Guard, 11.1 ppg
Julia Ayrault, Junior, Guard, 9.0 ppg
Alisia Smith, Senior, Forward, 8.7 ppg

Taiyier Parks, Junior, Forward, 7.8 ppg
Tory Ozment, Senior, Guard/Forward, 6.9 ppg
Moira Joiner, Junior, Guard, 5.9 ppg
Brooklyn Rewers, Freshman, Center, 2.4 ppg
Jayla James, Junior, Guard, 1.4 ppg
Laurel Jacqmain, Senior, Guard, 0.8 ppg

Key New Players
Isaline Alexander, Freshman, Forward
Matilda Ekh, Sophomore, Guard/Forward
Tamara Farquhar, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Purdue
DeeDee Hagemann, Freshman, Guard
Lauren Walker, Freshman, Forward

Projection:
Nia Clouden led Michigan State with 18.7 points, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game. The 5-8 senior also added 4.2 rebounds and connected on 33 three-pointers. Clouden is a great leader on the floor, but there is plenty of experience around her too. Alyza Winston was the only other double-digit scorer on the team and proved to be a very dangerous shooter. Moira Joiner is the other major shooting threat on the team and should again play that role off the bench. Julia Ayrault and wing Tory Ozment were regular starters last season and both are dynamic scorers who are at least a threat to shoot the ball from outside. Ayrault is a big 6-2 guard who led the team in blocks. The frontcourt will again revolve around Alisia Smith and Taiyier Parks. Smith averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, while Parks added 7.8 points and 6.0 rebounds. Those two averaged fewer than 20 minutes each, but the Spartans can play both of them together as needed, but with plenty of size on the perimeter, MSU can certainly play with one forward very effectively. The addition of Purdue transfer Tamara Farquhar will add another tough rebounder in the paint. Coach Merchant has also brought in a very good recruit in DeeDee Hagemann who can make an impact right away. With all of that depth and experience, Michigan State should be a consistent team. That may not result in a big move up the Big Ten standings, but it should result in another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 75.2 (29th in nation, 5th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.8 (240, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.8 (31, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.3 (259, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (119, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.0 (90, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 67.2 (234, 13)
Rebound Margin: 3.1 (82, 4)
Assists Per Game: 16.9 (12, 3)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.3 (83, 7)


Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:

#29 Damiya Hagemann
 




Ignatius L Hoops

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Northwestern Wildcats

Overall Rank: #35
Conference Rank: #6 Big Ten


Northwestern won the Big Ten in 2019-2020. Unfortunately, they never got a chance to take that team to the NCAA Tournament. They followed it up with another good season, but dropped to fifth in the Big Ten. They won a tournament game and will look to build off that success in 2021-2022. Losing Lindsey Pulliam and her 15.5 points per game and Jordan Hamilton and her 9.0 points hurts, but Coach Joe McKeown has talent on this roster and a few players who should be ready to step up and fill the lost production.

2020-21 Record:
16-9, 11-7
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Joe McKeown
Coach Record: 223-186 at Northwestern, 732-360 overall

Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Lindsey Pulliam, Guard, 15.5 ppg
Jordan Hamilton, Guard, 9.0 ppg


Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Veronica Burton, Senior, Guard, 16.2 ppg
Sydney Wood, Senior, Guard/Forward, 10.8 ppg

Courtney Shaw, Senior, Forward, 7.4 ppg
Paige Mott, Sophomore, Forward, 3.6 ppg
Lauryn Satterwhite, Senior, Guard, 2.7 ppg
Anna Morris, Sophomore, Forward, 2.2 ppg
Laya Hartman, Junior, Guard, 2.1 ppg
Jasmine McWilliams, Sophomore, Guard, 1.8 ppg
Kaylah Rainey, Junior, Guard, 1.4 ppg
Jess Sancataldo, Senior, Guard, dnp last season

Key New Players
Mercy Ademusayo, Freshman, Forward
Jillian Brown, Freshman, Guard
Melannie Daley, Freshman, Guard
Caileigh Walsh, Freshman, Forward
Hailey Weaver, Freshman, Guard

Projection:
Veronica Burton could take even more of the scoring load on her shoulders after tallying 16.2 points and 4.9 assists a season ago. Obviously, she has proven that she is capable of dropping 30 points on any given day. Wing Sydney Wood added 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. She will be the team’s top scoring threat inside the paint. Courtney Shaw and Paige Mott split starting time in the frontcourt last season. Shaw was the most productive, averaging 7.4 points and a team high 6.3 rebounds. Some younger players like Anna Morris and Jasmine McWilliams will look to step into larger roles this year. The return of Jess Sancataldo, along with players like Lauryn Satterwhite and Laya Hartman, should add plenty of options. Coach McKeown has also brought in a very good recruiting class, highlighted by three top 50 recruits Hailey Weaver, Jillian Brown and Caileigh Walsh. Coach McKeown should be able to find eight or nine players that can provide enough depth and keep Northwestern competing for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 67.4 (126th in nation, 11th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.1 (85, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.1 (165, 13)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (221, 8)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 4.2 (291, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 26.8 (299, 14)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.9 (268, 14)
Rebound Margin: -3.5 (267, 14)
Assists Per Game: 15.9 (29, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.4 (9, 2)

Madness 2022 WNBA Draft Rankings:
#15 Veronica Burton

Madness 2021 Women’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:

#37 Hailey Weaver
#42 Jillian Brown
#43 Caileigh Walsh
 

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Ignatius L Hoops

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Potential Gopher Opponent in the Bahamas:

South Florida Bulls

Overall Rank: #27
Conference Rank: #1 American

South Florida took advantage of UConn’s move to the Big East and won their first ever American Athletic Conference title. Overall, the Bulls went 19-4 and earned an eight seed in the NCAA Tournament. Following a victory over Washington State, USF fell 79-67 to top seed North Carolina State. With their top six scorers returning and some more experience coming from the transfer portal, this could be the year Coach Jose Fernandez finally leads his team to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

2020-21 Record:
19-4, 12-2
2020-21 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jose Fernandez
Coach Record: 391-275 at South Florida, 391-275 overall

Key Departed Players (starters in bold)
Kristyna Brabencova, Wing, 4.2 ppg
Beatriz Jordao, Center, 2.7 ppg

Key Returning Players (starters in bold)
Elena Tsineke, Sophomore, Guard, 13.6 ppg
Sydni Harvey, Junior, Guard, 11.7 ppg
Elisa Pinzan, Junior, Guard, 10.3 ppg
Bethy Mununga, Senior, Forward, 9.6 ppg

Maria Alvarez, Sophomore, Guard, 7.3 ppg
Shae Leverett, Senior, Center, 4.4 ppg
Mihaela Lazic, Freshman, Guard, 1.8 ppg
Cristina Bermejo, Sophomore, Wing, 1.3 ppg
Sara Guerreiro, Freshman, Guard, 1.1 ppg

Key New Players
Odeth Betancourt, Sophomore, Forward, JC Transfer
Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu, Senior, Forward, Transfer from Memphis
Bella Weary, Freshman, Guard
Patience Williams, Freshman, Forward/Center, JC Transfer
Aerial Wilson, Sophomore, Guard, Transfer from Memphis

Projection:
Elena Tsineke, Sydni Harvey and Elisa Pinzan provide USF with plenty of scoring threats on the perimeter. Following her AAC Freshman of the Year season in 2019-2020, Tsineke had another very good campaign in 2020-2021. She led the Bulls with 13.6 points per game and proved to be a dynamic scorer who can finish around the basket. Harvey was the team’s most prolific three-point shooter and averaged 11.7 points per game. Pinzan runs the show and dished out 6.5 assists per game. Like nearly everybody else on this team, she is a threat to hit the long ball and that often creates the space she needs to attack the basket and finish herself or find a teammate. Speaking of shooters, Maria Alvarez is a great shooting threat off the bench and hit over 49 percent of her shots from beyond the arc. Point guard Aerial Wilson started two seasons at Memphis and will be a great secondary option to Pinzan. Bethy Mununga anchors the frontcourt and the 6-0 senior easily led the team with 12.9 rebounds. She is a quality interior scorer too and can even occasionally stretch the defense with her shooting ability. Shae Levertt started beside Mununga last season and is solid on the defensive end. Coach Fernandez needed to get some depth in the frontcourt and he picked up three forwards with experience. Odeth Betancourt and Patience Williams come from the junior college ranks and Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu comes from Memphis where she averaged 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks as a sophomore last year. With that experience and talent added to the frontcourt, South Florida has more than everything they need to win another AAC title.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NCAA

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 65.4 (150th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 55.4 (16, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 36.9 (281, 8)
Field-Goal Defense: 35.4 (17, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.5 (55, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 30.4 (195, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (120, 1)
Rebound Margin: 8.3 (16, 1)
Assists Per Game: 15.0 (52, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.4 (42, 2)
 




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