Your Last-Minute Guide to March Madness


Clare Daudelin

The odds of picking a perfect bracket are about one in 9.2 quintillion … good luck!

Brooks Coleman, Staff Reporter

March Madness starts today, and the single-elimination tournament should be especially wild this year. There hasn’t been a truly dominant team in the sport this year, with four different teams occupying the top spot in the polls over the course of the season. Despite all of the madness, here are some of the favorites that may come out on top this year.

Legitimate Contenders:

Alabama Crimson Tide

It feels like nobody wants Alabama to win this tournament due to how coach Nate Oats has handled the controversy with former player Darius Miles, who was arrested on a capital murder charge in January. Despite this, Alabama comes in as the top overall seed, and this team is loaded. They have the best NBA prospect in college basketball in freshman forward Brandon Miller, an exceptional athlete who is an excellent inside scorer as well as a 40% three-point shooter. The Tide also have an experienced backcourt with guards Mark Sears and Jahvon Quinerly, which is essential in March. The thing that worries me a little bit with Alabama is that they’re somewhat streaky. This team shoots a ton of threes, and if they make them consistently, there probably isn’t a team in the country that can beat them. However, if the threes aren’t falling, the Crimson Tide can be beaten somewhat easily, which is cause for concern in a single-elimination tournament. Still, there is so much talent on this team and I expect them to make a deep run. 

Alabama is the first seed in the South Region. They will play 16-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Thursday, March 16.

Arizona Wildcats 

After losing stars Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko to the NBA Draft, many expected Arizona to take a step back from their dominant 2022 campaign. But thanks to the expert leadership of head coach Tommy Lloyd, the Wildcats are still one of the best teams in the country. One of the main reasons for their success this season is the improved play of centers Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo. These two make up the best frontcourt in the country. Tubelis is a National Player of the Year candidate thanks to his outstanding scoring and rebounding ability, and Ballo is a double-double machine as well as a monster interior defender. If Arizona can get consistent guard play to complement these two stars, the Wildcats will become a team nobody wants to face in this tournament. 

Arizona is the second seed in the South Region. They will play 15-seeded Princeton on Thursday, March 16.

Houston Cougars 

Defense is the name of the game for the Cougars, who allow a stifling 56.5 points per game thanks to their aggressive defensive scheme. Houston is no slouch when it comes to scoring either, and they are led offensively by senior guard Marcus Sasser. After missing all of last year with an ACL tear, Sasser has become the team’s leader on offense and defense, averaging 17 points per game with excellent three-point shooting. The Cougars also have three other starters averaging 10 or more points per game, so they have a variety of threats that can pick up the slack if Sasser is struggling. This team does not have many weaknesses, but they do play in a relatively weak conference, so you have to wonder if they are as good as their 31-3 record suggests. The Cougars have only played two games against current top 25 teams, so it remains to be seen whether they will be prepared for the competition they will face in March. Despite this, Houston is rightfully one of the favorites to win it all. Houston is the first seed in the Midwest Region. They will play 16-seeded Northern Kentucky on Thursday, March 16.

Kansas Jayhawks 

This section was written by Staff Reporter Brett Lundgren

The Kansas Jayhawks are coming off of a national championship win and look to be the first team to win the title in back-to-back years since the Florida Gators did so in 2006 and 2007. This will be easier said than done as the Jayhawks lost four of their top five scorers from that title team. However, Kansas is the most battle-tested team in the country, with the nation’s top-ranked strength of schedule. The Jayhawks posted a 13-5 record in the vaunted Big-12 that led them to win the regular season championship. This success wouldn’t be sustainable without superstar Jalen Wilson, who has averaged 20.1 points and 8.4 rebounds over the course of the season. These impressive numbers have earned Wilson the title of AP Big 12 Player of the Year. He has stepped into the primary role and has cemented himself as an all-around player for the Jayhawks this year. Wilson has had the assistance of Gradey Dick and Dajuan Harris Jr., who have each brought their own skillset to the team. Dick has been an outstanding scorer from deep, averaging 14.1 points and 2.3 three pointers per game. The freshman has been inconsistent at times, and needs to bring his A game each day to provide a nice second scoring option. Alongside Dick, Dajaun Harris Jr. has been the conductor of this offense, and the pass-first point guard has dished out an average of 6.2 assists per game. The Jayhawks need him to move the ball well and also provide himself as a scoring option to take the load off Wilson. With stellar play from Wilson, Dick, Harris Jr., and company, the Jayhawks will be poised for another title run and head coach Bill Self’s third National Championship. 

Kansas is the first seed in the West Region. They will play 16-seeded Howard on Thursday, March 16.

UCLA Bruins 

Much like Houston, UCLA is defined by their brilliant defense. They only allow 60.2 points per game, but they will be hampered by the loss of Jaylen Clark, who is arguably the best perimeter defender in the country. Amari Bailey has filled in his position excellently, and his play will be key to a deep run for the Bruins. Everything revolves around forward Jaime Jaquez Jr., whose excellent defense and post scoring make him a candidate to be a first-team All-American. At guard, there might not be a more experienced and battle-tested player in the country than fifth-year senior Tyger Campbell. Campbell is deadly in close games and clutch situations, and he brings consistency and stability to UCLA’s backcourt. With veteran guard play and excellent team defense, the Bruins are built to succeed in March. 

UCLA is the second seed in the West Region. They will play 15-seeded UNC-Asheville on Thursday, March 16.

UConn Huskies 

UConn started the year on fire, with a 14-0 record headed into January that included a blowout win over eventual No. 1 overall seed Alabama and an 18-point rout of Iowa State. They hit a rough patch around mid-January, but they’ve only had two close losses since the start of February. This includes a 15-point stomping of second-seeded Marquette on Feb. 7. With how well they’ve played lately, it was kind of shocking that they only got a four seed — I personally thought they should have been at least a three and maybe even a two seed. They also got unlucky in having to play Rick Pitino’s Iona in the first round, who will be a tough out. This team excels in most areas, but especially on the boards. The Huskies rank 16th in the country in rebounds per game, and they’re also a solid defensive unit, averaging 4.9 blocks per game and allowing only 65.0 points per game. UConn also has an above-average offense led by forward Adama Sanogo, who is averaging 16.8 points per game on 57.5% shooting. He’s joined by a potential NBA lottery pick in freshman guard Jordan Hawkins, who averages 16.1 points per game. Don’t let UConn’s low seed fool you – they have the physicality, athleticism, and scoring ability to contend for a championship. 

UConn is the fourth seed in the West Region. They will play 13-seeded Iona on Friday, March 17.

Marquette Golden Eagles 

Marquette might not be a team a lot of people expect to go far, but the Golden Eagles are seriously dangerous. Marquette only has two losses since the start of the year, and they’ve been red-hot recently, felling multiple ranked teams en route to the Big East title. All but one of Marquette’s six losses have come against tournament teams. The Golden Eagles’ high-flying offense averages 79.9 points per game. On defense, the Golden Eagles play chaos ball, forcing 9.4 steals per game. This enables them to start their fast-break-based offense. They have an extremely balanced attack, with four double-digit scorers in their starting lineup. Guard Tyler Kolek runs the show offensively, and his 7.7 assists per game are good for third in the nation. Forward Oso Ighodaro is an accomplished interior defender, with 1.6 blocks per game. The one issue with Marquette is that they are not a good rebounding team — their 31.9 rebounds per game have them near the bottom of Division 1. However, if Marquette can force turnovers and execute their fast-paced offense, there might not be a team in the country that can keep up with them. 

Marquette is the second seed in the East Region. They will play 15-seeded Vermont on Thursday, March 16.

Potential Upsets:

Every year, there are high-seeded teams that end up falling flat on their face — such as Kentucky in 2022, who lost in the first round to tiny St. Peter’s despite being picked by many to win it all. Here are four potential frauds to avoid when picking your bracket this year.

Tennessee Volunteers 

Tennessee has been one of the best teams in the country all year, and they have a ton of quality wins from playing in the top-heavy SEC. Their calling card is their brilliant team defense, which allows a stifling 58 points per game. They also rebound pretty well, and they force turnovers at an excellent rate. However, there are a couple of huge issues with the Volunteers. They don’t really have a go-to scorer, as 2022 star Kennedy Chandler is now in the NBA. Tennessee hasn’t found a player to replace him offensively, and they haven’t been able to consistently score at a high level. The second major issue is the loss of guard Zakai Zeigler to injury. While Zeigler isn’t a huge scoring threat, he plays excellent defense and facilitates the offense at a high level, making him their best player. Poor guard play is a recipe for disaster in March Madness, and with head coach Rick Barnes’ penchant for tournament disappointment, Tennessee is in serious trouble. 

Tennessee is the fourth seed in the East Region. They will play 13-seeded Louisiana on Thursday, March 16.

Xavier Musketeers 

Xavier is an excellent story. Their program was in complete turmoil before legendary coach Sean Miller returned to the program this year. Now, he has the Musketeers way up as the three seed in the Midwest region. Xavier has one of the most prolific and efficient offenses in the country, scoring a blistering 81.4 points per game on excellent shooting percentages. Their entire starting five have scoring averages in double digits, with three players averaging 15 or more points per game. The Musketeers shoot a ton of threes, and with a 39.5% team average, they can usually rely on those shots. However, Xavier needs to hit these shots because their defense is terrible. They allow 74.1 points per game, and they also force a below-average amount of turnovers. Teams that shoot a lot of threes and can’t defend are highly susceptible to an upset, because if the threes aren’t falling for a squad like Xavier, they can get behind by a lot quickly. Despite their high seed, I expect the Musketeers to lose in the second or even in the first round. 

Xavier is the third seed in the Midwest Region. They will play 14-seeded Kennesaw State on Friday, March 17.

Purdue Boilermakers 

Purdue was the best team in the country until about a month ago. Since the start of February, the Boilermakers have begun to seriously falter. They still have center Zach Edey, who is the runaway favorite for National Player of the Year. The 7’4” center is averaging an unbelievable 23 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game, and he can certainly carry this team a long way. However, aside from Edey, this team can’t really defend all that well, which is not a good sign for a team looking to win a championship. Adding onto this, their guards have been abysmal recently, especially Fletcher Loyer, who hasn’t scored more than four points in a game since March 2. It doesn’t help that Purdue got placed into the hardest region in the bracket. They are on serious upset alert if they have to play Memphis in the second round, and even if they get past that game, red-hot Duke and Kentucky teams will be lying in wait. A lot of things will have to go right for the Boilermakers for them to ditch their reputation as March chokers. 

Purdue is the first seed in the East Region. They will play 16-seeded Fair Dickinson on Friday, March 17.

Baylor Bears 

Baylor’s turnaround has been quite remarkable. The Bears’ basketball team nearly received the NCAA’s infamous “death penalty” in 2003 after the murder of player Patrick Dennehy and its subsequent cover-up by disgraced former head coach Dave Bliss. Scott Drew took over in the wake of that scandal and slowly rebuilt the Bears over the next 18 years, culminating in a 2021 national championship victory. While the Bears are still pretty good, don’t let that national championship fool you into picking Baylor to make a deep run. Baylor’s offense is still very good, and the backcourt duo of Adam Flagler and Keyonte George is one of the best in the country. However, this Baylor team is missing a true NBA-level athlete, which has been the extra ingredient for them in years past. Players such as Jeremy Sochan and Davion Mitchell put Baylor over the top in 2021 and 2022, and there aren’t really any players like them in 2023. Baylor’s defense has also taken a huge step back from their national championship season, which is a shock given that defense has been their identity over the past couple of years. The Bears can probably get to the Sweet Sixteen, but I don’t think they have the talent to go toe-to-toe with a top seed like Arizona. 

Baylor is the third seed in the South Region. They will play 14-seeded UCSB on Friday, March 17.


In March Madness, there’s a tendency for underdogs to succeed — such as Loyola Chicago in 2018, who made a Cinderella run to the Final Four despite entering the tournament as an 11 seed. Here are four sleepers that can go on a deep run and bust everyone’s brackets.

Indiana Hoosiers

One of the sport’s great programs, the Indiana Hoosiers have fallen on hard times since the turn of the century. However, they appear to be back this year, as the Hoosiers had a fantastic season en route to a four seed. Indiana has been relatively streaky this year, but they have a bevy of big wins, including two against top-seeded Purdue. IU is led by forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who has a case as the very best player in the country. Averaging an absurd 20.8 points, 10.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 blocks per game, Jackson-Davis has shown the ability to consistently dominate regardless of who he’s facing — including two excellent games against Zach Edey and Purdue. Jalen Hood-Schifino assists TJD in the backcourt, but there isn’t a ton of star power across the rest of the team. The Hoosiers have an extremely efficient offense that is near the top of the country in both field goal and three-point percentage. If the threes aren’t falling for the Hoosiers, they can let Jackson-Davis go to work in the paint. TJD is one of the few players capable of carrying a team on a deep run, so look out for the Hoosiers this year. Indiana should also have the advantage of playing their games close to home in the Midwest region of the bracket, meaning that the Hoosiers’ famously passionate fanbase will create a huge home-court advantage. 

Indiana is the fourth seed in the Midwest Region. They will play 13-seeded Kent State on Friday, March 17.

Penn State Nittany Lions 

Much like Indiana, the Nittany Lions depend on one star player: Jalen Pickett. Penn State will only go as far as their electric point guard takes them. The senior excels as a scorer, rebounder, and playmaker, and his continued brilliance will be required for Penn State to make noise this year. Shooting guard Seth Lundy joins him as another scoring threat to form one of the best backcourts in the country. This team plays extreme small ball – all but three of their players are guards, and only two Nittany Lions stand 6’10” or above. Penn State needs Pickett and Lundy to carry the scoring load, and over the past couple of months, they’ve been able to do just that. The Nittany Lions are playing their best basketball right now, making a run to the Big Ten championship game and cementing their spot in the tournament. If Pickett continues to be a superstar, the Nittany Lions can keep their hot streak going. 

Penn State is the 10th seed in the Midwest Region. They will play seventh-seeded Texas A&M on Thursday, March 16.

Memphis Tigers 

Memphis was a surprising choice for the eighth seed, because I think they’re much better than that. Memphis boasts a 26-8 record, and they have a good amount of quality wins, including tournament-bound Texas A&M, Auburn, and a shocking home win over Houston in the AAC championship game. Memphis has also taken top-seeded Alabama to the wire, just falling short of the upset by three. Memphis plays absolute chaos ball — they are fifth in the country in fast break points, giving them an offense ranked 34th in the nation in points per game. The Tigers’ defense is suspect at best, but they force an absurd amount of turnovers, which allows them to run their high-speed offense. Memphis’ talisman is guard Kendric Davis, who is averaging 22.1 points and 5.6 assists per game. He is joined by star forward DeAndre Williams, who averages 17.8 points and eight rebounds per game on excellent efficiency. Those two are the Tigers’ main scoring threats, but with the way this team plays, they can get a really good team caught in a shootout. Williams and Davis have proven throughout the year that they aren’t scared of big teams, and Purdue needs to be wary of this team if they end up meeting in the second round. 

Memphis is the eighth seed in the East Region. They will play ninth-seeded FAU on Friday, March 17.

Arkansas Razorbacks 

Arkansas has underachieved this year, and there’s no way around it. After starting the year highly ranked, the Razorbacks have limped into the tournament with a 20-12 record, They’ve lost six of their last nine games, and it’s been tough sledding in the SEC, which is filled with quality teams. However, there’s one thing about the Razorbacks that makes them scary to any top seed, and that’s talent. Not many programs in the country can say that they have four potential NBA players in their starting lineup, but Arkansas does. Nick Smith Jr. is the best of the bunch, and he will most likely be a top-10 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Ricky Council IV and Anthony Black aren’t far behind, and freshman Jordan Walsh will be picked despite a frustrating season. Arkansas loves to play fast and shoot threes, and they have the athletes to run anybody out of the gym on their day. Coach Eric Musselman is one of the best tacticians in the game, and his teams always excel in March, so top-seeded Kansas should not overlook this matchup if it happens.

 Arkansas is the eighth seed in the West Region. They will play ninth-seeded Illinois on Thursday, March 16.