March Madness Expectations: Ranking Team Player Efficiency Ratings

March Madness Expectations: Ranking Team Player Efficiency Ratings
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is just about ready for its first wall-to-wall first full day of action on Thursday.

Tonight, we have our final two games in the First Four, then it’s on to 16 first-round games on Thursday. March Madness 2024 will be the biggest sports wagering event of the year in states that have legal sportsbooks, but the Yellowhammer State offers no legal Alabama sports betting. averaged out 2023-24 player efficiency ratings (PER) for each of the 68 teams in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, according to sports-reference/ We then ranked the teams based on highest average team PER. Here are the top 15 teams on that list, including two of the four teams from Alabama participating in this year’s tournament:

Highest Average PER In NCAA Tournament

RankTeamAvg. Player Efficiency Rating
1McNeese Cowboys20.36
2St. Mary’s Gaels19.82
3Montana State Bobcats19.10
4 Alabama Crimson Tide 19.09
5Gonzaga Bulldogs18.96
6Grand Canyon Antelopes18.22
7Stetson Hatters17.51
8Arizona Wildcats17.42
9 Texas Tech Red Raiders 17.28
10 Baylor Bears 16.87
11Colorado State Rams16.57
12UConn Huskies16.56
13Iowa State Cyclones16.18
14 UAB Blazers 16.15
15Florida Atlantic Owls16.03

Where Alabama’s Two PER Leaders Rank

Alabama has sent four teams to this year’s tournament: SEC rivals Auburn and Alabama, American Athletic Conference tournament champion Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) and Southern Conference tournament winner Samford.

Texas, with six teams, is the only state with more representatives in the 2024 version of March Madness. That’s quite a feat considering Alabama only has nine Division I basketball programs. Check out our list of which NCAA Tournament top seeds got the worst travel schedules to see how far Alabama and Auburn would have to go to reach the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.

The Alabama Crimson Tide (22-11, 13-5 SEC), seeded fourth in the West Region, are in the top five at No. 4 with an average PER of 19.09. Four of their five starters average 11 points or more per game.

UAB (23-11, 12-6 American) is No. 14 on the list with an average PER of 16.15. The Blazers are the No. 12 seed in the East Region.

The top team on the average PER list, from the College Basketball Reference website, is McNeese from Lake Charles, Louisiana. The Cowboys come into the tournament with a 30-3 record, an 11-game win streak and an average PER of 20.36. Louisiana also has mobile sportsbooks, one legal option for folks to the east who await Alabama sportsbook apps to be approved.

Breaking Down Alabama, UAB Numbers

Senior guard Mark Sears leads Alabama at 21.1 points per game. Others contributing to the Crimson Tide’s efficiency include senior guard and Hofstra transfer Aaron Estrada (13.5 ppg), senior forward Grant Nelson (12 ppg), sophomore guard Rylan Griffen (11 ppg) and senior guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. (9 ppg).

Other scorers coming off the bench are senior forward Nick Pringle (6.9 ppg), freshman forward Sam Walters (5.7 ppg) and freshman forward Jarin Stevenson (5.2 ppg).

Alabama is No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense at 90.8 points per game.

As for UAB, three starters average double-digits in scoring: Junior forward Yaxel Lendeborg (13.9 ppg), sophomore guard Efrem Johnson (10.9 ppg) and junior guard Eric Gaines (12.2 ppg). Plus UAB has guard Alejandro Vasquez (11.3 ppg) coming off the bench. Vasquez led the Blazers with a career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting, draining five 3-pointers in the first half, to lead UAB to an 85-69 victory over Temple in the AAC tournament title game on March 17.

The Blazers average 77.3 points per game (81st in nation), so their offense helps this surging team’s March Madness expectations.

2024 NCAA Tournament Odds

Alabama will go up against 13th-seeded Charleston (27-7, 15-3 CAA) in the first round on Friday at 6:35 p.m. Central time. The Cougars average 81 ppg (28th in the nation) and have three players who average double digits in scoring. No wonder DraftKings Sportsbook offers an over/under of 173.5 for this game, the highest total of any first-round game. Bama is a 9.5-point favorite as of Wednesday afternoon.

Should the Crimson Tide advance, they would face the winner of Friday’s game between fifth seed Saint Mary's (California) and No. 12 Grand Canyon in the second round. Both are high on the average PER list: St. Mary's is second (average PER of 19.82) and GCU is sixth (18.22).

UAB faces No. 5 seed San Diego State, last year’s tournament runnerup, in the first round of the East Region on Friday at 12:45 p.m. Central. If the Blazers pull off the upset (Caesars Sportsbook has SDSU as a 7-point favorite), they could face No. 4 seed Auburn in the second round, if the Tigers get past No. 13 Yale. Auburn is a 12.5-point favorite at Caesars.

The state’s other tournament team, Samford, is seeded No. 13 in the Midwest Region and faces Kansas at 8:55 Thursday in the first round. The Bulldogs are a 7-point underdog at Caesars against the Jayhawks.



Lou Monaco is a contributing reporter for Lou had been East Coast Scene columnist for Gaming Today in Las Vegas since June 2019, covering the East Coast sportsbook scene with emphasis on NJ and PA. He also currently is a part-time writer for the high school sports department for NJ Advanced Media ( in Iselin, NJ. Lou has over 30 years sports experience with previous stints at ESPN SportsTicker, Daily Racing Form and Oddschecker.

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