Final Four Predictions 2023: Early Projections Following Men’s NCAA Bracket Release
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Dylan Disu of TexasJamie Squire/Getty Images
Whatever your favorite method for filling out your bracket is, it’s time to get to work. The selection committee has spoken, and the men’s 2023 NCAA tournament is set.
Sixty-eight teams will start the first week of the tournament with hopes of making it to the championship, but only four will make it to Houston for this year’s Final Four.
The No. 1 seeds are the obvious choices in each region.
It’s fitting, though, that the top-ranked team heading into conference championship week, Houston, was upset by Memphis in one of the final games before the committee finalized its choices. The Tigers are the embodiment of the parity that has been displayed all season and the potential for a chaotic tourney.
Still, March Madness is about making predictions and hoping they don’t go down in flames. With that in mind, here’s an early look at each region through the lens of a Final Four prediction.
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South: No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
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Jahvon Quinerly of AlabamaAndy Lyons/Getty Images
The Alabama Crimson Tide were named the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament for a reason.
They have been one of the best teams in the country throughout the season. The Crimson Tide are fourth in the nation in scoring margin, beating opponents by an average of 13.5 points per contest. They lead the nation in effective field-goal percentage on defense, per Bart Torvik.
There could be a surprise nail-biter along the way. West Virginia is particularly interesting when you look at its efficiency metrics profile. Its ability to rebound and get to the line could cause some problems.
The road to the Elite Eight is littered with potential traps for the higher seeds at the bottom of the bracket, though. Missouri and Utah State could both give No. 2 seed Arizona headaches, while Baylor and Creighton would have a hard time keeping up with Alabama’s tempo.
The Tide’s athleticism and talent have them in the driver’s seat.
Midwest: No. 2 Texas Longhorns
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Marcus Carr of TexasJamie Squire/Getty Images
Prepare for some chaos in the Midwest.
Houston is the No. 1 seed, but there are some reasons to doubt the Cougars making an extended run. They are 342nd in KenPom.com’s adjusted tempo metric, which leaves less margin for error because it lowers how many possessions they have.
They are also coming off a loss to Memphis in the AAC championship game. The Tigers ended up being a No. 8 seed in the East, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility for them to wind up losing to another underdog.
Specifically, Iowa’s fast-paced offense could be an issue for a team that wants to slow things down such as the Cougars’.
The Texas Longhorns could have a bumpy matchup in the second round with Texas A&M and Penn State both finishing as runners-up in their conference tournaments, but they are still the safest pick.
Texas is sixth overall in KenPom’s rankings. It’s a balanced squad that ranks 18th in offensive efficiency and 11th in defense.
Rodney Terry has his team playing its best basketball right now. It finished off its Big 12 tournament run with a win over another national champion hopeful in Kansas. UT didn’t just beat the Jayhawks, though; it eviscerated them 76-56 in a title game.
That’s the kind of clutch performance that makes Texas hard to pick against.
East: No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers
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Zakai Zeigler of TennesseeEakin Howard/Getty Images
Chalk isn’t fun and rarely turns out being the reality of how things turn out. Someone from outside the top three seed lines has made it to the Final Four every year since 2009.
The Tennessee Volunteers have a good shot at being one of those teams this year. The Vols are fifth in KenPom’s rankings and have the second-best defense by its metrics.
Everyone knows that three-point shooting can be the difference-maker in the tournament. While Tennessee is nothing special when it comes to shooting them, they defend the three-point line better than anyone. Rick Barnes’ squad has the best three-point defense in the country, per Bart Torvik.
Purdue is the No. 1 seed here and will surely be a tough out. Zach Edey is a dominant two-way big man who averages 12.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.
However, they have some head-scratching losses on the resume, including Northwestern, Rutgers and Maryland.
Kentucky also lurks as a dangerous sleeper with the No. 6 seed. Oscar Tshiebwe is one of the top players in the country who averages 16.5 points and 13.1 rebounds per game.
Marquette comes in as the No. 2 seed with a Big East regular-season and tournament championship on their resume and shouldn’t be discounted either.
West: No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks
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Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris of Kansas.Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
The 20-point drubbing to Texas is less than ideal, but don’t count out the defending national champions from repeating.
There’s no denying the Longhorns had the Jayhawks’ number at the end of the season. However, Kansas was playing good basketball outside of those games. It is 9-2 over its last 11 games, with both losses coming against Texas.
The No. 1 seed has been playing without head coach Bill Self while he was recovering from a medical issue. However, the coach is in good condition and set to rejoin the team, per Jeff Borzello of ESPN.
Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris return as starters from the team that won the title last year. Freshman Gradey Dick gives it another legitimate scorer.
It’s in a tough bracket. No. 3 seed Gonzaga has a highly efficient offense. UCLA has a quality resume and is a worthy No. 2 seed, and No. 4 seed UConn caught fire at the end of the season before losing to Marquette in the Big East final.
Still, the experience of the Jayhawks and the boost of getting Self back gives them the nod.