March Madness 2023: What You Need to Know About the Favorites

Dhruv Gupta, Sports Writer

March Madness is the biggest college basketball tournament in the world, with 68 teams from all over the country clashing on the biggest stage in collegiate athletics. The thrill of watching two longtime rivals battle it out in an overtime shocker or an underdog miraculously managing an upset over a top-seeded opponent is what make this tournament the greatest one in the world.

The top 25  teams in Division 1 basketball were recently released, allowing a sneak peak at the upcoming bracket that will determine the outcome of this massive college basketball tournament.

The University of Alabama is a projected number one seed in the tournament with the latest projections, with 26 wins to only 4 losses at the time of writing. Freshman Brandon Miller has led the team in scoring, averaging almost 19 points and 8 rebounds a game on 45% from the field, also a team high. Off the court, however, Miller faces potential legal charges after supplying a weapon used in a shooting. Miller played in his latest game, but his future on the team and his eligibility to play in March Madness remain uncertain. On the defensive end of the court, freshman Noah Clowney has averaged 8 rebounds a game, with junior Mark Sears adding 1.4 steals per game and sophomore Charles Bediako blocking 1.7 shots per game. The Crimson Tide’s presence on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball have launched them to become the most dominant team in college basketball.

Meanwhile, another projected number one seed, the University of Houston, have championship hopes. If the Cougars manage to battle their way to the Final Four, they will be playing at home in Houston at the NRG Stadium. A big reason for the Cougars success is due to their undefeated record on the road, with ten wins to zero losses, the best in the nation. The Cougars are one of the best teams in the nation through the NCAA Evaluation Tool and KenPom which are both measurement metrics used to determine tournament rankings. However, their middle-of-the-pack rankings in shooting, and defense may hold them back in the tournament. Senior Marcus Sasser is averaging 16.5 points per game on 42.6% from the field, both team highs. Houston is also known for its intense rebounding at 38.8 boards per game as a team. This contender is led by coach-of-the-year candidate Kelvin Sampson. Houston has a major incentive to advance in the tournament because they are aiming to compete in a Final Four in their hometown.

Purdue University is another team vying for a one seed with 24 wins and 5 losses. Junior Zach Edey has been phenomenal this season, averaging 22 points per game on 62.3% shooting from the field, ranking him 8th in the nation, while also grabbing 12.8 rebounds, enough for second best in the nation. This superb offensive production along with 2.3 blocked shots per game allow Edey to lead his team in all these categories. Along with this, the Boilermakers have nine quadrant one wins to four losses. A quadrant one win is a home win against a top 30 ranked team, a neutral court win over a top 50 ranked team, or an away win against a top 75 ranked team. In addition, the Boilermakers have four quadrant two wins to zero losses. A quadrant two win is a home win against a top 31-75 ranked team, a neutral court win over a top 51-100 ranked team, or a win against a top 76-135 ranked team.

Finally, Kansas looks to continue their dominance in March Madness with 25 wins and 5 losses on the season. Junior Jalen Wilson leads the team with 20.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. Kansas has historically been one of the best teams in college basketball, with four NCAA championships, been the runner-up six times, and reached the Final Four 16 times. One of those championships occurred last year, with Kansas taking home the 2022 National Championship with a victory over UNC.

In the world of March Madness, anything can happen, from a top seed being toppled in the first round to the last team in the tournament going big. In the world of college basketball, it is always madness.