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March Madness bracket predictions: Instant picks for 2023 with full field revealed

These are our bracket picks for the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament.

SMU v Houston Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

There is no overwhelming favorite entering the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament. Instead, the field is wide open and full of possibilities for the 68 teams who heard their name called on Selection Sunday. While Houston, Kansas, and Alabama will likely be the most popular picks in your office pool, this does feel like the type of year that a sleeper could potentially go all the way.

There are a few things we know about trying to pick a winner based on history. A No. 1 seed has won the big dance the last five years — and 12 of the last 15. The lowest seed to ever win it all was a No. 8 seed Villanova back in 1985. Of course, last season’s championship game was an instant classic between No. 1 seed Kansas and No. 8 seed North Carolina. We know anything can happen in March.

There are so many teams that feel like they could win it all this year with the right draw. I do these instant bracket predictions every year, so it’s time to go on the record once again. Here are our picks for the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament made immediately after the bracket was announced.

South Region

Alabama is the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, and it feels like the Crimson Tide have a favorite path to the Final Four. Alabama will defeat the No. 16 seed without a problem, and we’ll take them over No. 8 seed Maryland in the second round. We see No. 12 seed Charleston upsetting No. 5 San Diego State in the first round, and Virginia beating Furman. We’ll take Charleston into the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed after they upset Virginia. Charleston’s run ends against Bama in the regional semifinal.

We like Creighton and Baylor to win as favorites in the first round. This will be arguably the best matchup of round two, but we’ll take the Bluejays. We’ll take Missouri over Utah State. Give us Arizona over the Tigers in round two. Creighton over Arizona in the Sweet 16. We think Creighton has better guard play than Arizona with Trey Alexander and Ryan Nembhard initiating the offense. The Wildcats are awesome on the inside, but Creighton has a legit rim protector too in Ryan Kalkbrenner. I’ve been backing Creighton all year, and they would have gotten a higher seed than this without a six-game losing streak in the middle of the year with Kalkbrenner out of the lineup.

Alabama will beat Creighton to punch their ticket to the Final Four. Nate Oats’ team has the most talent in this region led by Brandon Miller.

East Region

Purdue ended up getting a No. 1 seed after all. The Boilermakers won the Big Ten tournament to earn the top seed in the East region, but their path won’t be easy with a tough second round matchup looming. The 8-9 matchup features Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic — two teams who could give the Boilermakers trouble in the round of 32. We’ll take Memphis over FAU, and we’ll take the Tigers over the Boilermakers to make the Sweet 16.

Duke vs. Oral Roberts is also a fascinating opening round game. It was just two years ago that Oral Roberts reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 15 seed. Star guard Max Abmas is still around for Oral Roberts, but a matchup with Duke won’t be easy. The Blue Devils have been playing some great ball lately. I’ll take Oral Roberts over Duke. I’ll also take Louisiana over Tennessee, and Oral Roberts to the Sweet 16 over the Ragin’ Cajuns. It’s 2021 all over again.

We’ll take Kentucky over Providence to start the bottom half of the region. Kansas State will beat Montana State. We’ll take Kansas State over Kentucky to go to the Sweet 16. I like USC over Michigan State in the 7-10 upset. Give me Marquette over Vermont, and Marquette over USC to make the Sweet 16.

I have Marquette over Memphis in the Elite Eight. Shaka Smart is going to the Final Four.

Read my piece on how Marquette became the best story in college basketball this year.

Midwest Region

Houston has been our pick as the best team in college basketball all year. There’s only one problem: star guard Marcus Sasser went down with the groin injury, and no one knows his status for the NCAA tournament. Still, we’ll take Houston to the Sweet 16 with a win over Iowa.

Miami-Drake is an elite first round matchup. The Bulldogs are good enough to win a game or two in this tournament, but the Hurricanes are a very tough matchup. We have to take Miami. Miami’s run will end in round two against Indiana. The Hoosiers have the talent to beat Kent State in round one before punching their Sweet 16 ticket. Indiana vs. Houston will be really tough, but we believe the Cougars’ physicality can neutralize Indiana star Trayce Jackson-Davis somewhat. We’re not sure if TJD has enough help to pull such a big upset, so give us Houston.

The bottom half of the bracket is building towards a Texas vs. Texas A&M matchup in the round of 32. The Aggies are way too good to be a No. 7 seed after finishing second in the SEC this year. We’ll go with Texas A&M to beat Texas and punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. I like Texas A&M to beat Xavier before falling to Houston. The Cougars are going to the Final Four.

West Region

The West feels like the most difficult region to pick, for sure. It starts with the defending champion Kansas Jayhawks, who will have a tough second round matchup regardless of who wins between Illinois and Arkansas. We’ll take the Illini, but we think Kansas can take them out in round two.

Iona vs. UConn is a fascinating first round matchup, and the winner should have a favorable path through the bracket. Can Rick Pitino pull the big upset in round one? It’s possible, but we’ll go with the Huskies. Give us No. 12 seed VCU over St. Mary’s in the first round, and UConn over VCU to make the Sweet 16.

How good is this UCLA team without injured wing Jaylen Clark? Clark might be the best defender in the nation, and his exist from the lineup is a brutal blow for the Bruins. Still, we’ll take UCLA to make the Sweet 16, where they will lose to Gonzaga.

We see Gonzaga over Kansas in the Elite Eight. This isn’t Mark Few’s best team, but star center Drew Timme is still in the mix and capable of getting this program back to the Final Four.

Final Four predictions

We’ll take Alabama over Marquette, and Houston over Gonzaga.

Give me the Cougars over Alabama in the national championship game. Marcus Sasser needs to be healthy for Houston to go all the way, but I have felt like the Cougars are the best team all year long. They are my title pick.