March Madness 2023


Eric Lanzer and Dylan Grewell

March Madness is when 68 Division 1 college basketball teams compete in a 64-team single elimination bracket. There are 4 teams that have to play into a spot in the bracket. These teams are called the “first four”. March Madness has been around for a while, and it looked a little different back then. March Madness was born in 1939, and there were only 8 teams. It was Oregon vs Ohio State in the championship, and Oregon was the first-ever NCAA Champion. The tournament field grew into 16 teams in 1951. It then doubled to 32 teams in 1975. Lastly, in 1985, the field expanded to 64 teams, as it is today. The first four weren’t added until 2011, and it has given more teams a chance to make the tournament. There is also an NIT tournament, which is a tournament for teams to play that do not make the March Madness tournament. There have been 80 NCAA tournaments and Kentucky leads all time with 58 tournament appearances and 129 all time wins in March Madness.

The best part of March Madness is filling out the bracket. Millions of people every year fill out a march madness bracket and try to guess every game correctly. The odds of getting a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 or 1 in 9.2 quintillion. Nobody has ever filled out a perfect bracket. There have been many that have been really close, but nobody has ever done it. The longest march madness bracket streak was 49 games in 2019. 49 straight games were picked correctly until the bracket was busted. Upsets are a huge part of why brackets get busted, and in 2018, UMBC destroyed everyone’s bracket by being the first 16 seed to ever beat a number 1 seed. Number 1 seeds were 135-0 before UMBC beat Virginia in 2018. 

A big part of the tournament is there is always a Cinderella team as they call it. A Cinderella team is a team nobody expects to make it far or to win at all. Last year’s Cinderella team was the Saint Peter Peacocks. Saint Peter’s had a 22-12 record, and they were a 15 seed in the tournament. Saint Peter’s went up against number 2 seed Kentucky in the first round. Many people had Kentucky going all the way to the final four, or even the championship game. Saint Peter’s had other plans. They knocked out Kentucky to move on to the round of 32 against 7 seed Murray State. Many people expected Saint Peters to lose this game, but they once again proved everyone wrong by beating Murray State 70-60. Then, they were in the sweet sixteen and going up against one of the hottest teams in the tournament. The Purdue Boilermakers were coming off 22 and 10 point wins in the first 2 rounds. They matched up against Saint Peter’s really well, and everyone thought Saint Peter’s run was going to come to an end. Saint Peter’s ended the game with a 15-8 run and Pulled it out vs 3 seed Purdue. That made The Saint Peter’s Peacocks the first ever 15 seed to make the Elite Eight. Their Cinderella story came to an end vs Number 8 seed North Carolina in the Elite Eight when they lost 69-49. Those types of Cinderella runs are what make March Madness so exciting. 

There are many teams that could take home the trophy this year. There are so many good basketball teams and lots of contenders. Teams to watch out for this year are Houston, Alabama, Purdue, and UCLA. Houston has an outstanding record at 29-2. Houston is 11-0 at home, and they also have a 11-game winning streak. They are the best all-around team in the country. However, 1 of 2 of Houston’s losses are to Alabama who has a 26-5 record. Alabama has been a top team in the country, and they have a 15-0 record when playing at home. Alabama has a high-powered offense, and they will put a lot of points up on the scoreboard. Purdue has always had a really good basketball program as they are always a top team in the country every year. Purdue comes in with a 25-6 record. They have arguably the most dominant player in the country which is Zach Edey. Edey is 7 ‘4, and 300 pounds. He is massive and dominates inside the post. He averages 22 points per game and 13 rebounds per game. UCLA has had a great year, and they are known for their defense. They give up 60 points a game and are ranked 6th in the country for defense. They have a top player in the country, in Jaime Jaquez Jr. He is averaging 17 points per game along with 8 rebounds per game while shooting 48%. UCLA has a record of 27-4. UCLA also has a home record of 17-0. They play tough and gritty defense and fluster their opponents. 

The official March Madness bracket hasn’t come out yet, but Eric Lanzer and I are going to predict some things we think will happen in this year’s March Madness. Eric and I have different opinions on who we think is going to win the championship. He has Alabama winning it all. Alabama has proven itself to be a top team in the country. They come in 6th in the country averaging 83 points per game. They also lead the nation in rebounds per game. They gave number 1 ranked Houston 1 of their 2 losses this season with a win earlier in the year, 71-65. I have UCLA winning it all this year. UCLA is a guard-run team with their top 5 scorers being guards. UCLA is known for its defense. They give up only 60 points a game which is 6th, and they average 8.7 steals a game which is 29th in the country. UCLA is very good at holding their opponents to a low field goal percentage. They hold opponents to 40% shooting from the field. They also have the 7th highest points differential in the country, outscoring their opponents by an average of 14 points a game. As the saying goes, “defense wins championships”. 

Eric and I have also picked our “Cinderella” teams for this year. Eric’s Cinderella team is going to be the Kent State Golden Flashes. Kent State has a record of 28-6. Kent State has been the MAC conference’s best team all year, and they are looking to make a run in the tournament. Eric has this to say about Kent State, “Sincere Carry is very good and a very well-rounded player. He has a compassion for the game and is very confident and cocky. He leads the team in scoring, assists per game, and field goal percentage”. Kent State has a great defense as they average about 9 steals a game, which ranks 17th in the country. They only let opponents shoot 40% from the field, which ranks 20th in the country. They also rank 19th in points per game differential, as they outscored their opponents by 11 points a game. Kent State is a well-balanced and disciplined team. They could easily have a Cinderella run and make a statement in the tournament. My “Cinderella” team this year is the USC Trojans. The Trojans are projected to be a 10 seed in this year’s tournament. They are 22-10, and they have played a tough schedule. The Pac-12 is a competitive conference and has a lot of competitive teams. They are 6th in the country for opponent field goal percentage. They also rank 8th in the country for blocks per game.  Defense wins games and USC has a great defense. USC has the capability to be a great team and have a great run in the tournament. 

Lastly, Eric and I have picked a team that we believe will get upset in the first or second round. Eric believes that Indiana Hoosiers will be upset this year. Indiana has a 21-10 record and is projected to be a 4 seed. Indiana’s Record in the Big Ten is 12-8. Indiana is just a very inconsistent team. Indiana’s success revolves around their best player, Trayce Jackson-Davis. TJD averages 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. He is arguably the best player in the country. To shut down Indiana, you have to shut down their best player Trayce Jackson-Davis. They will be flustered and will struggle on offense. The team I believe will be upset this year is going to be the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia just hasn’t proven itself this year. They have an overall record of 23-6. They have some losses to unranked teams such as Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, and North Carolina. They have also made some games closer than they should have been. Virginia ranks 300th in points per game and 368th in rebounds per game. They are projected to be a 5 seed and play Mississippi State or Wisconsin, and I believe they will be upset in the first round.

March Madness “Selection Sunday” will be held this Sunday, March 12th at 6pm. The bracket will then be released following the selections. The first four games then will be played March 14th and 15th. The tournament, starting the first round, officially starts on March 16th.