Can Kansas repeat as champions? Which powerhouses are in danger of missing the Big Dance? Here’s a first look at the possible bracket for March Madness.
March Madness begins in less than three weeks, but some college basketball fans and experts feel like they don’t know any more than they did when the season started in November!
The most wide-open season in ages saw another loss for a No. 1 team when Tennessee upended Alabama less than two weeks ago. It was the 8th loss for No. 1-ranked teams this season, a record dating back through more than 70 years of college basketball polls.
With no clear-cut favorite or dominant team in the NCAA in 2023, any number of teams can claim a legitimate chance at cutting down the nets in Houston on April 3.
March Madness figures to be more unpredictable than ever this season. We try to make some sense of the eventual field of 68.
March Madness No. 1 Seeds
With at least one top team dropping a game seemingly every night, trying to determine who’ll sit atop the bracket is tougher than most years.
But with most teams having played about 20-25 games at this point, we do have a good idea on who’s built the strongest résumés in order to impress the committee in a few weeks:
We’re used to discussing the Crimson Tide in this spot during college football season. But with a 22-4 record in one of the country’s deepest conferences Alabama sits atop the SEC and appears to be the likeliest team to claim one of March Madness’ four No. 1 seeds.
Wins over No. 2 Houston, then-No. 1 North Carolina, Memphis, Michigan State and others allow the Tide to recover from their four losses – all to likely Tournament teams. A victory at the SEC Tournament in Atlanta would just about ensure their spot as a No. 1 seed.
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They’ve got the best story, as a potential host city favorite during the Final Four.
But there’s plenty of substance, including the nation’s most devastating defense running roughshod over the American Athletic Conference at a record of 23-2.
The loss to Alabama in December may keep the Cougars from claiming the overall No. 1 spot in the tournament (awarded to the top team in the country, and allowing that team to select its own region for the first two weekends of the Tournament).
But the prospect of playing the Final Four just minutes away from campus will soften the blow for the nation’s most consistent squad.
Their mascot may be frightening, but that ain’t a problem. The Boilermakers are benefitting from a down year in the Big Ten, as they’ve separated from the conference with a 23-4 start, behind leading candidate for Player of the Year Zach Edey, a 7-foot-4 center.
Edey leads the way 22.2 points and 13 rebounds a game. But one question for Purdue to answer in the coming weeks is where will they turn if the center gets into foul trouble? Only one other Boilermaker, freshman guard Fletcher Loyer, averages double-digit scoring per game (12.2 points per game.)
March Madness Bubble Teams
What are the first schools that come to mind when you think of March Madness?
Duke. Kentucky. North Carolina. Villanova. They’re the bluest of blue bloods, with success both historical and recent with numerous championship banners. Can you imagine an NCAA Tournament with NONE of them?
Told you this was an unpredictable year. Villanova stands at a 15-14 record, and barring a Big East Tournament championship will not be in March Madness this season.
The other three schools have much better chances, but questions remain.
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Probably the likeliest of the group to qualify, the Blue Devils stand at 21-8 after a big win at Syracuse and success at home.
At 21 wins, they have surpassed the unofficial ‘magic number’ of 20 wins for major-conference teams to be considered likely for the Tournament.
The Blue Devils’ archrivals from Chapel Hill were in this position a year ago, desperately clinging to hope for a berth in the Tournament.
It worked out pretty well. The Tar Heels rallied, went on a run, and qualified for the National Championship game where they lost to Kansas after a second-half rally.
Can they do it again? Their track record of success will help, but when the preseason No. 1-ranked team has 11 losses in late-February, it’s not a great look.
We’ll be watching until the end to see whether UNC can make it back to March Madness, where they’ll likely need another Cinderella run.
John Calipari’s squad looks a whole lot better than they did three weeks ago after wins against Florida and Mississippi State, Tennessee and Auburn.
Any slip-ups down the stretch, however, will bring earlier losses to Missouri, South Carolina, and Georgia into sharper focus. The Wildcats’ best bet is to go on a run in the SEC Tournament – they traditionally thrive in the annual event in Atlanta and could vastly improve their seeding with a title.
March Madness Defending Champs
You probably noticed we only named three No. 1 seeds above for the four regions. Were we saving the best for last?
Last year, Kansas came back from a 15-point deficit at halftime to win the National Championship over North Carolina. This year’s comeback came earlier, after a three-game losing streak in January seemingly doomed the Jayhawks’ chances at a top seed.
Instead, they’ve reeled off eight wins in nine games, moving to 24-5 on the season and moving themselves back into position for the last No. 1 seed.
Their fate in the country’s deepest conference, the Big 12, was largely decided this week when Kansas defeated Baylor and TCU, two teams that beat them during that earlier losing streak. The Jayhawks are America’s hottest team as March Madness draws near.
March Madness Odds for Final Four & National Championship
Currently, DraftKings lists 23 schools with odds of 50:1 (+5000) or better of winning the 2023 NCAA Basketball championship. These schools are listed below, along with their odds of qualifying for the Final Four in Houston on April 1.
In a year like this one, however, it may make sense to look deeper. Below, we’ve also listed teams ranked in the Top 25 with odds longer than 50:1. The list may surprise you!
|SCHOOL||TO WIN NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP||TO MAKE FINAL FOUR|
|San Diego State||+8000||+1600|
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March Madness FAQs
When does March Madness start?
March Madness tips off on March 14 with the First Four in Dayton, OH, a set of four games to determine the final teams to qualify for the field of 64. The first round begins on Thursday, March 16.
When are March Madness brackets released?
The selection committee announces the field at 6 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, March 12.
Where is March Madness played?
First-round and second-round games take place between March 16-19 in the following cities:
- Albany, NY
- Birmingham, AL
- Columbus, OH
- Denver, CO
- Des Moines, IA
- Greensboro, NC
- Orlando, FL
- Sacramento, CA
Regional semifinals and finals take place from March 23-26 in these cities:
- Kansas City, MO
- Las Vegas, NV
- Louisville, KY
- New York City, NY
Where is the Final Four this year?
The 2023 Final Four will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX on April 1.
When is the championship game of March Madness?
The NCAA men’s basketball championship game will be played on April 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.