March Madness 2023 – What We’ve Seen So Far and Predictions

The Greatest Tournament in Sports Returns to End the College Basketball Season

March Madness 2023 - What Weve Seen So Far and Predictions

The Tournament Through Rounds 1&2

This year’s field features 68 teams that regardless of their seed, have a chance to win it all. The highest ranked team is Alabama, receiving the #1 overall seed and Houston being the favorite according to odds. While this tournament typically sees many upsets, the first round typically features 9 or 10 upsets, based on seeding. Another statistic to be known is that the Final Four usually features teams with a combined seeds of between 11 and 17. The metrics that can typically indicate which teams will pull off upsets include: free throw %, defensive efficiency, 3 point shooting %, and turnover margins.

The first weekend games proved to be just as exciting as ever as 7 teams beat those seeded higher than them. While this is a lower number of upsets than normal, the number of seeds 12 or higher too advanced was 3, pulling off some outstanding and unexpected wins. As far as the yearly tradition of March Madness brackets goes, no single bracket survived even the first round with a perfect record. By the time the final time slot of games began on Friday night, no perfect brackets remained in either the ESPN or CBS Sports Bracket Challenge websites.

Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi from ESPN believed that he would finally get the sought after perfect bracket, as he claims here.

Thought it was my year, too…”

— Joe Lunardi

One odd feature of the first 2 rounds was the lack of games that truly came down to the final second. While some game-winning shots were made late in games, no true buzzer beaters sent a team through to the next round. Also, not a single game made it into overtime, helping to keep the start times intact and the TV schedule from getting too jumbled, as is typically the case.

Detailed below will be a recap of the first 2 rounds in each region along with the most notable games. This article will be updated after each weekend of play with game recaps and predictions moving forward.

South Region

Teams: 1) Alabama (#1 Overall) 2) Arizona 3) Baylor 4) Virginia 5) San Diego St. 6) Creighton 7) Missouri 8) Maryland 9) West Virginia 10) Utah St. 11) NC St. 12) College of Charleston 13) Furman 14) UCSD 15) Princeton 16)Texas A&M-CC

Advanced to Round of 32: 1) Alabama 3) Baylor 5) San Diego St. 6) Creighton 7) Missouri 8) Maryland 13) Furman 15) Princeton

Advanced to Sweet 16: 1) Alabama 5) San Diego St. 6) Creighton 15) Princeton

Most Notable Facts: By far the most shocking run of the tournament this year has been that the #15 Princeton Tigers took down both the #2 seed Arizona Wildcats and the #7 Seed Missouri Tigers. If they were to win in the Sweet 16 over Creighton they would tie St. Peters from last season for the furthest run by a #15 seed in tournament history. Another notable upset came in the first round by the #13 seed Furman, leaving #4 Virginia with the taste of defeat to a double digit seed that is too familiar to them in recent years. That matchup was definitely the most exciting finish of any game so far, with a 3-pointer coming with just over 2 seconds left to give Furman the lead and ultimately, the win.

East Region

Teams: 1) Purdue 2) Marquette 3) Kansas St. 4) Tennessee 5) Duke 6) Kentucky 7) Michigan St. 8) Memphis 9) Florida Atlantic 10) USC 11) Providence 12) Oral Roberts 13) Louisiana 14) Montana St. 15) Vermont 16)Fairleigh Dickinson

Advanced to Round of 32: 2) Marquette 3) Kansas St. 4) Tennessee 5) Duke 6) Kentucky 7) Michigan St. 9) Florida Atlantic 16)Fairleigh Dickinson

Advanced to Sweet 16: 3) Kansas St. 4) Tennessee 7) Michigan St. 9) Florida Atlantic

Most Notable Facts: The biggest shock of the tournament so far was certainly the #16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, a team that was not even guaranteed a spot in the round of 64. After their win in the First Four round game, they took down the giant that was #1 Purdue. The squad from New Jersey follows in the footsteps of UMBC as only the 2nd team ever to win as a #16 seed over a #1 seed in the first round. This team technically should not be in March Madness but because Merrimack, the team that won their Northeastern Conference tournament was not eligible for postseason play, the Nights got the honor of making the best tournament in sports. Other than this unlikely win, the region was fairly quiet, other than the favored #5 Duke falling to #4 Tennessee and the #2 seed Marquette going down to #7 Michigan St.

West Region

Teams: 1) Kansas 2) UCLA 3) Gonzaga 4) UConn 5) Saint Mary’s 6) TCU 7) Northwestern 8) Arkansas 9) Illinois 10) Boise St. 11) Arizona St. 12) VCU 13) Iona 14) Grand Canyon 15) UNC Asheville 16) Howard

Advanced to Round of 32: 1) Kansas 2) UCLA 3) Gonzaga 4) UConn 5) Saint Mary’s 6) TCU 7) Northwestern 8) Arkansas

Advanced to Sweet 16: 2) UCLA 3) Gonzaga 4) UConn 8) Arkansas

Most Notable Facts: This region did not see a single upset in the round of 64. Every team seeded 1-8 advanced on to the Round of 32. This trend however was shattered in the Round of 32, as #8 Arkansas took down the #1 seed Kansas in a win by just a point, by a score of 71-72. Other than this, most of the other games were not close and the higher seed team won each game easily.

Midwest Region

Teams: 1) Houston 2) Texas 3) Xavier 4) Indiana 5) Miami 6) Iowa St. 7) Texas A&M 8) Iowa 9) Auburn 10) Penn St. 11) Pittsburgh 12) Drake 13) Kent St. 14) Kennesaw St. 15) Colgate 16) Northern Kentucky

Advanced to Round of 32: 1) Houston 2) Texas 3) Xavier 4) Indiana 5) Miami 9) Auburn 10) Penn St. 11) Pittsburgh

Advanced to Sweet 16: 1) Houston 2) Texas 3) Xavier 5) Miami

Most Notable Facts: This region was also a pretty boring one, with no seed better than #6 Iowa St. being upset. However, this region does have the game that hold my pick for in-school game of the tournament. The 1st Round game that featured #3 Xavier vs. #14 Kennesaw St. saw one of the best late comebacks so far, with Xavier overcoming a 13 point deficit in just under 10 minutes of game clock. I am sure that some of the late shots that the Musketeers hit to cut into the lead sent students into exclamatory outbursts in schools all over the country. This was definitely true in 4B Spanish 5.

Predictions For the Sweet 16

South: #1 Alabama vs #5 San Diego St. – Alabama Defeats San Diego St. (84-72)

Alabama should continue to roll. That should be the end of the story, the Crimson Tide are just too good to lose to San Diego St.

#6 Creighton vs #15 Princeton – Creighton Defeats Princeton (89-72)

This is where I think the run finally ends for Princeton, the Cinderella story so far. Ryan Nembhard has just been too good for Creighton. The Tigers have no real way of generating points other than getting hot from outside, so I see them finally falling at the hand of the Blue Jays.

East: #9 FAU vs. #4 Tennessee – FAU Defeats Tennessee – (82-77)

This is definitely the game I see as being the largest upset. Tennessee has gotten cold at times this year, which is the only way this outcome should happen. I just have a feeling the Owls will catch fire and continue this run into the Elite 8.

#3 Kansas St. vs #7 Michigan St. – Michigan St. Defeats Kansas St. (64-59)

This is just a Tom Izzo team of destiny. Kansas St. has looked fine but does not have the firepower to compete with the Spartans when they get hot. Michigan St. can ride the energy of the big Marquette upset to pull another against the Wildcats.

West: #8 Arkansas vs #4 UConn – Arkansas Defeats UConn (78-76)

As sorry as it would be for my bracket, I think Arkansas gets through here. This game should be the closest of the round though. Both teams have proved they are legitimate Final Four Contenders. UConn is led by the big forward Adama Sanogo, who has posted more than 20 points in both of the first 2 games. Arkansas’ guard play from Ricky Council IV and Davonte Davis has shined, ultimately getting them this far in the wake of knocking down #1 Kansas.

#2 UCLA vs #3 Gonzaga – UCLA Defeats Gonzaga (82-76)

While Gonzaga seems to be as good as they have been recently, this level of play just seems unsustainable. Jaime Jacquez has played outstanding so far in this tournament and I think that UCLA can ride his energy into the next round. Gonzaga has had very favorable match ups so far, especially giving Drew Timme a lot of time to work with the ball. UCLA should be a tougher opponent and the Bulldogs should fall.

Midwest: #1 Houston vs #5 Miami – Houston Defeats Miami (83-75)

Marcus Sasser is finally better for Houston and is making his mark in March Madness. Sasser and Tramon Mark have led the guard play for Houston that has been nothing short of elite. Miami’s cute upset over Indiana was fun, but the Cougars should roll into the Elite 8.

#2 Texas vs #3 Xavier – Texas Defeats Xavier (74-67)

Texas has just been an all-around solid team and has all the makings of a Final Four squad. Xavier had seemed shaky in both games so far and I do not think they have what it takes to advance. Texas should be the lone Big 12 team to advance, but can definitely make a run at the title.