March Madness 2023 takes center stage with Selection Sunday, when teams across college basketball learn if they’ll earn a berth into the NCAA Tournament.
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.
USA TODAY Sports will provide the latest bracket reveal updates, news, analysis, conference tournament scores and more throughout the day.
The SportsLine Projection Model simulated the entire 2023 NCAA Tournament 10,000 times. It has absolutely crushed its March Madness picks, beating over 92% of all CBS Sports brackets two of the last four tournaments. The model also nailed three teams in the West and South Region Sweet 16 last year, including No. 5 seed Houston.
It knows how to spot an upset as well. The same model has produced brackets that have nailed 18 first-round upsets by double-digit seeds. It also nailed some massive upsets two years ago, including predicting the championship game between Gonzaga and Baylor and hitting Houston’s Midwest Region win even though the Cougars weren’t the No. 1 seed.
Three 2023 March Madness bracket games to watch
One of the most intriguing 2023 March Madness matchups to watch: No. 8 Maryland vs. No. 9 West Virginia in the South Region. Inconsistent play kept these teams from a better seed, but they have a combined nine wins against top 25 teams, setting up an intriguing matchup that will produce a challenger in a likely second-round matchup against top-seeded Alabama. Maryland plays relatively slowly and tries to keep games low scoring, while WVU plays quicker and scores more on average, setting up a must-see first-round matchup.
Another 2023 March Madness matchup to keep an eye on: No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 Charleston. No. 12 seeds have a 35.4% win rate against No. 5 seeds since 1985, and the Cougars have a chance to increase that winning percentage. The Aztecs have piled up regular-season wins in recent years, but haven’t won a NCAA Tournament game since 2015. Charleston won 31 games this season, including knocking off Virginia Tech in non-conference play, making it one of the 2023 March Madness sleepers to keep a close eye on.
A couple new names in prominent positions are longtime NBA coach and current TNT television analyst Stan Van Gundy, who will serve as an analyst for game action, and former Villanova coach Jay Wright, who will step in as a studio analyst for the first time. Those who have been watching CBS college basketball coverage throughout the regular season have seen Wright in his new role already, but this will be his first Big Dance in the studio since his 21-year run with the Wildcats that featured two national titles.
Just to be clear, this column is not intended to be predictive. That said, as you fill out your ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets — you can submit as many as 25 of them — decide whether any of the facts below speak to you and make you lean in a particular direction. At the very least, hopefully you will find something interesting to discuss while you watch the Big Dance with your family and/or friends.
NOTE: All stats referenced are since 1985 (also called the “modern era” throughout the column), unless otherwise noted. Additionally, any historical reference to the “first round” relates to the round of 64, and “second round” to the round of 32. The First Four stands on its own to avoid confusion. In addition, all results mentioned ignore any subsequent vacating. For example, we consider Louisville the winner of the 2013 national championship game, even though its appearance has been vacated by the NCAA.
How to enter USA TODAY Sports Bracket Challenge with a chance to win $1 million
The USA TODAY Sports Bracket Challenge is back. There’s a $1 million grand prize for a perfect bracket, $25,000 prize for the top bracket. The Challenge is free to enter for those age 21 and over. Terms apply, void where prohibited by law. See official rules and get in the game.
Alabama clearly the favorite in South Region, but championship pedigree lurks
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The South Region is loaded. It begins at the top with the overall highest seed, but if Alabama is to make its first Final Four in program history, it will have to navigate a bracket filled with lots of accomplished programs, including four programs with national championship banners hanging in their home arenas.
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