March Madness Bracket: What you need to know about each region


Ashton Mineo, Reporter

The field for the men’s NCAA Tournament has finally been selected. People all around the country are gearing up to fill out their brackets, in hopes that they will secure bragging rights over family, friends, and coworkers. There is a multitude of approaches people take when filling out their brackets. Of course you have the people, me included, that spend hours of their time researching and second guessing themselves to formulate the perfect combination of upsets and favorites all for their bracket to be completely broken before the games even tip off on Friday.  Then you have the group of people that pick schools because they like their mascots or they have some obscure connection to said school. No matter what way you go about filling out your bracket, in the end, it’s probably going to get busted. With that being said, I am going to try and help you out with each region of the bracket.

South Region

Contenders: The number one overall seed, Alabama Crimson Tide, are clearly a contender to make it out of this region. Despite the controversy surrounding the team throughout the year, Alabama has righted the ship thus far and they have the best player in the country, Brandon Miller. I like the two seed Arizona Wildcats as well. The Wildcats have arguably the best front court duo in the country with Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo combining for nearly 34 points and 18 rebounds per game. Arizona is one of the top five scoring offenses in the nation and they are certainly capable of reaching the Final Four.

Pretenders: Baylor is one of the hardest teams to judge in college basketball. They have an excellent trio of guards that are among the nation’s best. Behind these guards, Baylor owns one of the top offenses in the country. The problem is on the other side of the ball. The Bears struggle mightily on the defensive end, and if their guards have an off night it is going to be difficult for Baylor to get enough stops to advance. Virginia is concerning to me for the exact opposite reason. The Cavaliers play at a very slow pace and they rely on their defense to win grind it out, close games. This style of play is fine until they meet a team that gets hot and jumps out in front with a lead. Virginia just simply does not possess the offensive fire power to sustain a run from a good team.

Dark Horse: Creighton’s season has been quite the roller coaster ride. The Blue Jays were ranked inside the top 10 to begin the season, but those high expectations went flying out the window after they dropped six straight games early in the season. Creighton has bounced back nicely, as they finished the season relatively strongly following the losing streak. If the Jays remain on the incline and play like the team we all thought they were heading into the season, they could definitely make a Final Four push.

Midwest Region 

Contenders: Chalk once again, but the top two seeds, Houston and Texas, are my favorites to come out of this region. The metrics and analytics are absolutely in love with Houston, and for good reason. The Cougars are led by All-American, Marcus Sasser, and they are top 11 in offensive and defensive efficiency on KenPom. Texas is a physical team that plays very well on both ends of the court. They are led by star guard, Marcus Carr, and they have a ton of experience riddled throughout their roster. The Longhorns have been excellent recently, as they have beaten top seeded Kansas twice en route to winning the Big 12 conference tournament.

Pretenders: Iowa State concerns me because of how inconsistent they are. The Cyclones have recorded some stellar wins throughout the year, yet they have had some puzzling losses. Their inconsistency, specifically on the offensive end, could lead to an early exit. I am also skeptical about Xavier. The Musketeers are not a bad team by any means, but their ceiling got exponentially lower when it was determined that Zach Freemantle would be sidelined for the rest of the year. Freemantle’s injury paired with Xavier’s wish-washy defense will only take them so far.

Dark Horse: Call me a homer if you want, but the Penn State Nittany Lions are the best bet for a double-digit seed to reach the Final Four. The Lions have been on a tear as of late, winning eight of their last 10. Penn State plays small, playing four or five guards at a time. Jalen Pickett has been outstanding this year, putting up 17, seven, and seven a night on his way to being named a 2nd team All-American. Penn State rarely turns the ball over and they are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation. If Penn State gets hot from deep, they could beat any team in this tournament.

East Region

Contenders: The hottest team in college basketball right now is the Duke Blue Devils. First year head coach, Jon Scheyer, has his squad on a nine game winning streak heading into this tournament. Duke has four outstanding freshman playing alongside junior guard, Jeremy Roach, who led this team to the Final Four last season. The Blue Devils have an elite defense and they will out-rebound just about any team they play. Shaka Smart is in the running for national Coach of the Year for good reason. Marquette was not on anybody’s radar to start the season and they were picked to finish near the bottom of their conference. The Golden Eagles went on to post a 28-6 record, winning the Big East regular season title outright, and just last week they won the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden where the East Regional Final happens to take place. Marquette has one of the best offenses in the country behind their All-American point guard Tyler Kolek.

Pretenders: I fear that the top seeded Purdue Boilermakers are not going to make their first ever Final Four appearance in 2023. 7’4 giant Zach Edey is a monster, but the rest of the team makes me very nervous. Purdue has struggled against pressure all year long and that may come back to bite them. Their all freshman back court is inexperienced and Purdue lacks a second established scorer to take some of the load off of Edey. Tennessee was one the best teams in college basketball for the first two months of the year, but ever since then they have been pretty shaky. Their only true point guard on the roster, Zakai Ziegler, is out for the season. Tennessee has not handled ball pressure well in the absence of Ziegler. Additionally, they will miss Ziegler’s play making on the offensive end, where they have already struggled all year.

Dark Horse: I would have loved to write about Oral Roberts in this spot, but they got a brutal draw having to face Duke in the first round. Instead, I am going to pivot the much more practical: Michigan State Spartans. Tom Izzo is known for winning games in March. Izzo has taken much worse Michigan State teams deep into the tournament. The Spartans are a balanced team and they rank inside the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Their leading scorer is senior guard, Tyson Walker, who can get hot quickly and erupt for large scoring outbursts. Walker has excelled in the clutch, knocking down many big time shots. Watch out for Izzo to take his Spartans on yet another run this March.

West Region

Contenders: I believe the best team from this region is actually the 4 seed Connecticut Huskies. They have NBA talent scattered throughout their roster with a great balance of shooters, slashers, and bigs. The Huskies are the second best rebounding team in the nation and they can take over a game with their physicality. Due to a rough patch in the middle of the season the Huskies did not earn a top seed, but wins over teams like Alabama and Marquette prove that this team could make it to Houston for the Final Four. The number 1 seed in the West belongs to the Kansas Jayhawks. The reigning national champs are attempting to go back-to-back for the first time since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Jalen Wilson averages over 20 points per game and he has his team in position to run it back. Kansas led the NCAA with 17 quad 1 wins, meaning they had the most wins against high quality opponents.

Pretenders: The “pretenders” in this section would be considered “contenders” in pretty much any other situation, but this region is so tough I had to split the four up one way or the other. The three seed Gonzaga, is certainly a familiar face in March Madness. The Bulldogs have the third longest active streak of making the NCAA tournament. Senior big man, Drew Timme, has led the Bulldogs to the top scoring offense in the nation. Obviously that is fantastic, but Gonzaga is outside the top 75 in defensive efficiency. Bad defenses typically don’t make it that far in March. The Zags don’t necessarily have an awful defense, but it may cause problems as they advance deeper in the tournament. The 2 seed UCLA Bruins are also going to be a very tough out. They are led by star seniors Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez. The Bruins have it all: great coach, great point guard, great scorer, great defense, and experience. You are probably thinking why in the world are the Bruins down here instead of in section above. Well there is one reason and that is the season ending injury suffered by Jaylen Clark. Clark is not only UCLA’s best defender, he is arguably the best defender in the country. On top of that, he was also the Bruins third leading scorer. Needless to say, this is a huge loss for the Bruins to incur. Before the injury I would have probably picked UCLA to win the whole thing, but now I am not so sure. It is still possible for the Bruins to win it all, but the hill will certainly be a much steeper climb.

Dark Horse: I don’t really see much opportunity for a lower seeded team to arise out of this region because of how stout the teams at the top are,  but if there was one team that could make a run it would be the Arkansas Razorbacks. Eric Musselman is an excellent tournament coach, leading Arkansas to the Elite Eight in each of the past two years. His team is loaded with talent, but due to battles with injury and inconsistent play the Razorbacks have not had the season they hoped to have. Arkansas is relatively healthy now and they are capable of doing damage. The Razorbacks have multiple future NBA players on their team and a potential top pick in Nick Smith. If these guys turn it on they can play with anybody.