One of the greatest spectacles in all sports arrives in March. The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament features Cinderella stories and moments the players will remember forever. The 2023 March Madness iteration promises as much madness, with numerous top teams showing viability. Some faces are new, while college basketball’s traditional powers continue to shine.
Storylines to Watch
Here are some of the most intriguing developments as March Madness begins.
Defending a Championship
In 2022, the Kansas Jayhawks won their first title since 2008. Winning one title is hard enough, but can Rock Chalk do it again? No school has won back-to-back championships since the Florida Gators did it in 2006 and 2007. The team looks strong and poised to make another run.
Seeking a First Title
The Houston Cougars have the NCAA’s best record and want to build on an impressive run in 2023. The Cougars have seen incredible talents like Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Elvin Hayes, but they’ve never won a championship. They made the Final Four in 2021, but could it finally be their year?
UCLA is the most storied program in college basketball. John Wooden, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Reggie Miller and Bill Walton are only some of the legendary names. However, they haven’t won the title since 1995. Mick Cronin has improved his squad’s record each season, with a Final Four appearance two seasons ago. Is this the year the Bruins put it all together?
Players to Watch
Keep your eyes on these players who are sure to score big this year.
Zach Edey, Purdue
Zach Edey is having himself a year. The 7-foot, 4-inch Boilermaker will likely win player-of-the-year honors with his daunting 22 points and 13 rebounds per game. Plus, he’s shooting 61% from the field. He’s been a point of consistency for the Boilermakers, so how much can they rely on him in March?
Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
Another fascinating big man to watch is Trayce Jackson-Davis from Indiana. The senior forward is lighting up the stat sheet with 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. Jackson-Davis regularly puts the Hoosiers on his back and plays a lot of minutes. You can guarantee he’ll give it all come tournament time.
Jalen Wilson, Kansas
Jalen Wilson had a good sophomore season, but he’s ramped it up with a stellar third year, averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds per game. He’s on the way to being an All-American, and the tournament will be an excellent opportunity to boost his NBA Draft stock.
Jarace Walker, Houston
Jarace Walker is only a freshman, but he’s one of the most talented players in the country. He’ll likely be a lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft with his size and shooting ability. He’s exciting to watch and could be the missing link for the Cougars’ title hopes.
The Favorites to Win
These powerhouse teams are the favorites to take the top spot this year.
BetUS has Houston as the odds-on favorite to win at +650. Their only losses this season are to Alabama and Temple, and they have quality wins over teams like Virginia, Wichita State and Oral Roberts.
Sometimes, defending champs get a hangover the following season, but not the Jayhawks. Bill Self’s team sits at +800 odds of winning it all. Kansas has countless quality wins this season over teams like Duke, Indiana and Baylor. Can the Jayhawks repeat last year’s magic?
Alabama has shown its strength with wins over Houston, Tennessee, Michigan State and others. Alabama is at +900, so can they live up to the hype of their best season in program history?
How to Watch
March Madness consistently gets high TV ratings, with 10.7 million people tuning in to watch in 2022. It’s one of the greatest spectacles in sports, rivaling the Super Bowl and the Indy 500.
Millions of people make brackets each year, with only a handful surviving the first day. Fill them out with your friends, whether on paper or on websites like ESPN or Yahoo. Determine a prize for the winner based on who got the most picks correct or whose bracket survived the longest. When the games are on, get 20 cups for beer pong and cook up some tasty danger dogs from Guy Fieri.
The NCAA Tournament will again be on CBS and the Turner networks like TBS, TNT and truTV. If you don’t have cable, you can catch all the games on streaming services like YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV. This tournament is the last for legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz, who’s broadcasted the college basketball postseason since 1986.
What matters most in the NCAA Tournament? Poise and experience. You need to win six games in a row, so you’re relying on veteran leadership. Jalen Wilson and the Kansas Jayhawks will be the first team in nearly two decades to win back-to-back titles.