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Early 2023 March Madness Outlook

March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events in the United States, and with the 2023 NCAA Tournament just around the corner, it’s time to start looking ahead and making predictions about what teams have the best chance of making some noise at the Big Dance. Of the 68 teams participating in this year’s tournament, only a few will be at the top of college basketball picks today to win the NCAA championship. 

Here’s a look at some of the top teams in the country with a chance to make it to the Final Four. However, like every season, there will be a couple of underdogs that could surprise everyone and still be playing on April 1-3 at NRG Stadium in Houston for the biggest prize in college basketball. 

Houston Cougars

Houston is now 22-2 on the season but has fallen to third position in the polls since the loss to Temple after winning nine straight games. With two meetings with Memphis, the only other team from the American Athletic Conference with a chance to make it to the tournament, the road to the Final Four may be bumpy. However, Jarace Walker has been stepping up, combining for 42 points on 67% shooting from the field in the two games against UCF and Cincinnati. 

Houston has the second-highest adjusted offensive efficiency margin in Division 1 and is the only program that’s ranked inside the top eight in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. 

Purdue Boilermakers

Purdue Boilermakers are 22-2 and temporarily the top seed but will likely fall in the polls since their loss to Indiana. The Boilermakers have non-conference wins over Gonzaga and Duke to go along with a Big Ten win over Ohio State. They were the first team to be voted the unanimous number one in the AP Top 25 poll after beating Michigan and Michigan State. 

Zach Edey is leading the charge, averaging the second most points (22.1) and rebounds (13.0) per game in the nation, with 2.3 blocks per contest. Purdue joins Houston with their second season loss and has a 2.5-game lead in the Big Ten standings. 

Alabama Crimson Tide

The Alabama Crimson Tide are 20-3 and remain undefeated in conference play with crucial conference wins over Houston and Michigan State. As a result, they are the automatic qualifier from the SEC, securing them a No. 1 seed. 

Even though there is one less team from the SEC included in this projection than last time after Mississippi State dropped faltered, the conference is bolstered by having two of the four potential No. 1 seeds in the field, with Tennessee being the other.

Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee Volunteers have slipped up twice in SEC play, with its loss to Florida dropping them to 8-2 in the conference and 19-4 overall. However, they are projected to finish their season strong and secure a No. 1 seed as an at-large selection, as Alabama is the favorite to win the conference title. In addition, the Volunteers are getting it done statistically, ranking second in point differential (+17.7) and giving up the least number of points per game in the country (54.6).

Kansas Jayhawks

The 18-5 Jayhawks have an impressive bench this season, and it’s possible they could make another run deep into the tournament. Led by Jalen Wilson, averaging an incredible 21.4 points and 8.6 rebounds, Kansas is also getting an average of 35.9 points per game from Gradey Dick, KJ Adams, and Kevin McCullar. 

Their ability to step up defensively in the tournament led the Jayhawks to the national title last season. However, they allowed an average of 67.2 points per game during the regular season. If they can find a way to replicate that success on defense and keep up their offensive output, the Jayhawks should have no problem reaching the Final Four once again in 2023.