NCAA Tournament 2023 bracket picks from Seth Davis: Why Alabama will win all of it

No extra debating, no extra projecting, no extra effervescent, no extra guessing. The official 2023 males’s NCAA Tournament bracket is right here. There are a lot of strategies to filling out a bracket, however for me, it begins with three easy phrases: Do it rapidly. I don’t have a lot selection, as a result of very shortly after I get handed a bracket within the CBS studio, we’re presenting it to America through the Selection Show. I don’t have time to dilly-dally.

I often go into the present with a brief record of mid-major groups I’m trying to choose for upsets. I couldn’t fairly choose as many as I assumed I’d as a result of I didn’t love the matchups, however I’m fairly positive I gained’t get accused of being too shy with my upset specials. I wish to have enjoyable and take probabilities, so let the bracket pooler beware if you wish to copy my alternatives.

Here are a few ideas as you get able to fill out your bracket(s). First, your finest probabilities for vital upsets are within the 12 versus 5 and 13 versus 4 video games. I requested CBS analysis guru Wayne Fidelman to run some numbers for me from the final 20 years. He reported that 35.8 p.c of No. 12 seeds gained their first video games, and 20.9 p.c of No. 13 seeds gained theirs. So you’re selecting one to 2 No. 12s and no less than one No. 13. Also, within the final 10 years, six No. 15 seeds have gained no less than a first-round sport. So if you wish to choose a kind of guys to tug off a stunner, you’ve bought math behind you.

The Final Four breakdown goes like this: 40.5 p.c of No. 1 seeds have gotten there, 21.6 p.c of No. 2 seeds have gotten there and 18.2 p.c of groups seeded No. 5 or beneath have gotten there. So possibly you go together with two No. 1s, one No. 2, after which a sleeper on your Final Four. (Or possibly you don’t. As you may see, I went aggressive on the early upsets after which bought chalky for the Final Four.)

Finally, a bit of bracket technique. Since most of you’re in swimming pools that reward selecting greater seeds to win, the perfect technique is to search for highly-seeded groups you don’t suppose will get previous the Sweet 16 — and then you definately choose these groups to lose within the first two rounds. That approach in case you’re flawed, you don’t maintain paying for it.

Then once more, that is the NCAA Tournament. Being flawed is half the enjoyable! So right here is the best way I stuffed out my bracket in Studio 43 in New York City on Sunday simply earlier than 6 p.m. You might comply with my lead at your discretion. As Goethe stated, be daring and mighty forces will come to your assist!

Here’s my region-by-region breakdown. Enjoy the Madness, everybody!

South Region

• The No. 1 general seed often will get the best path to the Final Four, however on this case, the delta between Alabama’s path and the remainder of the No. 1 seeds is unusually giant. Arizona performed UCLA within the Pac-12 match closing Saturday evening, and despite the fact that the Bruins had been with out their finest defender, Jaylen Clark, who’s out for the season with an Achilles harm, in addition to their finest massive man Adem Bona, who sat out with a nasty shoulder, the Wildcats barely held on to win by two. This is partly as a result of they’ve an harm problem with regard to level guard Kerr Kriisa, who performed via apparent shoulder ache (and it confirmed). Kriisa injured his ankle throughout final yr’s NCAA Tournament, and it led the top-seeded Wildcats to be eradicated within the Sweet 16. So in case you’re trying to take a flyer on a No. 15 shocker, Princeton shouldn’t be a nasty method to go. Regardless, Alabama is a really, very simple option to go to Houston out of the South. Don’t overthink this one.

• I additionally consider the subsequent two seeds on this area, Baylor and Virginia, are ripe to be plucked. Baylor has had some good moments this season, however the Bears are ranked No. 104 nationally in adjusted defensive effectivity, per KenPom, which is their lowest rank since 2009. UC Santa Barbara completed tied for first within the Big West Conference and is taking part in in its second NCAA Tournament within the final three years underneath head coach Joe Pasternack. Plus, I like older groups, and the Gauchos are ranked No. 8 within the nation in expertise on KenPom. Beating Creighton within the first spherical gained’t be simple, however the Bluejays haven’t any bench, and I believe UCSB can expose that deficiency. So they’re in my Sweet 16.


NCAA Tournament South Region evaluation: Alabama, Arizona and extra

• Virginia can also be lacking a key piece in Ben Vander Plas, the 6-foot-8 senior switch who’s the crew’s fifth-leading scorer and is out with a damaged hand. The Cavaliers regarded actually dangerous down the stretch, dropping at Boston College and North Carolina and successful too many video games over dangerous groups by shut margins. They are going up towards a large killer in Furman, whose dynamic offense will give Tony Bennett’s pack line protection an actual problem. I like the Paladins on this one.

• Charleston over San Diego State is likely to be an upset on the seed line, nevertheless it gained’t really feel prefer it when it occurs. San Diego State’s biggest power is its depth, however the Cougars get extra from their bench than the Aztecs do. Pat Kelsey’s crew additionally is aware of the way to exploit that depth, taking part in an ultra-fast tempo and launching a ton of 3s. I’m a giant believer that successful is a behavior. This crew has gained 31 video games this season and misplaced simply three. That offers Charleston nice confidence heading into this sport, which it should journey into the Sweet 16.

Mason Gillis and Purdue are coming off a Big Ten title. (Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today)

East Region

• Purdue went from unranked within the preseason to No. 1 within the AP ballot quicker than any crew in historical past, and till the Boilermakers faltered in mid-February, they appeared to be steamrolling their method to the nationwide championship. They bought uncovered offensively down the stretch, however Matt Painter responded by making terrific strikes — particularly elevating Brandon Newman to the beginning lineup in favor of Ethan Morton, which compromised the protection however added obligatory offense. Even when Purdue was successful, there have been questions concerning the freshman backcourt, however now this crew is getting offensive pop from a wide range of sources. Remember, this crew has Zach Edey, so the Edeyettes don’t should be nice, they simply should be adequate. They had been certainly that through the Big Ten match.

• That stated, I went with Marquette for my Final Four choose. Besides the truth that the Golden Eagles are precisely the kind of fast, expert, scrappy crew that offers Purdue hassle, additionally they have nice chemistry and position definition, and they’re extraordinarily aggressive. It would bum me out to see Purdue fall in need of the Final Four (once more) as a result of I do know these followers are ravenous to see it occur. Alas, in response to my bracket, they’ll have to attend no less than another yr.


NCAA Tournament East Region evaluation: Purdue, Duke, Kentucky and extra

• Part of the rationale to select towards Purdue is there are too many groups that may journey the Boilers up on this area. Whether Purdue performs Memphis or Florida Atlantic in Round 2, it’s going to be a troublesome matchup. Both of these groups are deep and fast, and so they can rating factors in a rush. They additionally each have inside gamers (Memphis’ DeAndre Williams, Florida Atlantic’s Vladislav Goldin) who can put a physique on Edey and make him rating a number of toes farther away from the basket. Then there’s Duke, which has been on an unimaginable surge of late, having gained 9 straight video games and holding opponents to a median of 63 factors per sport throughout that stretch. Lots of people speak about Duke’s enchancment, however what actually improved was the Blue Devils’ well being. They are 19-1 once they have their full complement of gamers. Throw within the potential Elite Eight sport towards Marquette, and I concern Purdue simply has too many factors of publicity to make it to Houston.


Duke has one other ACC title. The credit score begins with its new coach

• I’ve Providence over Kentucky within the “Bryce Hopkins Game,” the Friars’ main scorer who transferred from Kentucky final spring. If nothing else, the Friars could make issues bodily uncomfortable for the Wildcats. I studied Louisana final week and wasn’t overwhelmed, however I believe Tennessee is susceptible as a No. 4 seed as a result of it’s taking part in with out its level guard and finest defender, Zakai Zeigler, who sadly tore an ACL late within the season. So in case you take Louisiana and also you’re flawed, the Vols should not lengthy for this match.

Midwest Region

• I stated on the Selection Show that I assumed the committee made a mistake in sending Houston to the Midwest over Kansas. (I additionally incorrectly stated that the sport was being performed in Kansas City, Kansas, despite the fact that it’s in Missouri. Good factor nobody on Twitter observed!) The massive query with Houston, after all, is the well being of Marcus Sasser, the Cougars’ All-American guard who missed Sunday’s AAC match closing with a groin harm. (Cue the Sam Malone YouTube clip!) I’m inclined to be optimistic as a result of Sasser went via warmups hoping he might play towards Memphis, however he was unable to go. That tells us that no less than he thinks he’s shut. I’m positive one other week of relaxation will assist, however groins are tough, and also you by no means understand how efficient a participant might be even when he’s wholesome sufficient to be on the market. It’s too dangerous, as a result of with a wholesome Sasser, Houston is clearly adequate to win the championship (in Houston, no much less).


NCAA Tournament Midwest Region evaluation: Houston, Texas, Indiana and extra

• After Drake eviscerated Bradley by 26 factors within the Missouri Valley Conference match closing, I frolicked on Synergy learning the Bulldogs — and I cherished what I noticed. This is without doubt one of the few groups within the nation that’s ranked within the prime 30 on KenPom in each expertise and minutes continuity (which measures what number of gamers from final yr’s crew are contributing once more this season). The solely non-senior starter, 6-7 sophomore ahead Tucker DeVries, is an absolute bucket who averages 19.0 factors on 38.7 p.c taking pictures. The Bulldogs even have legit dimension inside with 6-10 senior Darnell Brodie, and so they rank third within the nation in defensive rebound share. I do know Miami has had an excellent season, however the Hurricanes misplaced their finest inside participant, 6-7 sophomore Norchad Omier, to an ankle harm within the opening minutes of their loss to Duke within the ACC match. The crew is saying Omier might be obtainable, however we don’t but know if he’ll be able to play on this sport, and if that’s the case, how efficient he’ll be.

Tucker DeVries may very well be a mid-major hero by the top of March. (Jeff Curry / USA Today)

• My choice to place Drake into the Sweet 16 has rather more to do with my perception within the Bulldogs than doubts about Indiana — however now that you just point out it, I do have doubts about Indiana. The Hoosiers had been cruising for some time, however now they’ve misplaced 4 of their final eight, together with by 22 factors at dwelling to Iowa on Feb. 28. The Hoosiers have an All-American in Trayce Jackson-Davis, however Mike Woodson has been expressing concern for a while about this crew’s lack of depth, and that deficiency is manifesting itself simply as Woodson feared.

• I don’t have too many robust opinions concerning the backside half of this area apart from Texas is the perfect crew within the octet. The Longhorns gained the Big 12 match despite the fact that their coronary heart and soul, senior ahead Timmy Allen, didn’t play due to a calf pressure. Allen is anticipated to play within the NCAA Tournament, which suggests the Longhorns can have a big margin for error. This is an outdated and mature crew that has a knack for determining methods to win. If Texas loses, it is going to be as a result of it performs a awful offensive sport (which might be particularly problematic towards a crew like Xavier that may rating in a rush). But no crew, not even Houston, goes to beat Texas by being extra bodily. If these two groups play, I believe the Longhorns might negate Houston’s major power, which would depart them well-positioned to advance to the Final Four.


How Rodney Terry, Texas gained a Big 12 championship

West Region

• First and foremost, I used to be relieved to listen to that Bill Self was launched from the hospital and plans to teach within the NCAA Tournament. The crew positive missed him on the Big 12 match, nevertheless it additionally missed Kevin McCullar, my All-Glue captain who sat out the sport due to again spasms. Back spasms can be very dicey, so the longer Self can maintain McCullar out, the higher. Maybe McCullar can sit out the first-round sport towards Howard, however after that, the Jayhawks are going to wish him towards Illinois or Arkansas. A win there would purchase McCullar one other week of relaxation and remedy. It’s not a perfect state of affairs to say the least, however let’s not overlook that heading into the final weekend of the common season, Kansas was the clear favourite to be the match’s No. 1 general seed. The Jayhawks fell again a few spots with these two losses to Texas, nevertheless it gained’t take a lot for them to get their groove again. If McCullar will get wholesome once more, I like their probabilities to make it to Houston.

• VCU and Iona had been two different mid-major groups I used to be trying to choose heading into the Selection Show. I’ve been monitoring the Rams for some time, and so they confirmed me numerous aggressive spirit in rallying within the second half Sunday to beat a bodily Dayton crew within the Atlantic 10 match closing. Saint Mary’s has been succeeding this season by grinding a gradual tempo, however the Gaels confirmed in getting blitzed by Gonzaga that they’ve a somewhat low ceiling for a No 5 seed. Given the frequency of 12-over-5 upsets, this one was simple for me.

Rick Pitino coached Iona again into the NCAA Tournament. (Joe Buglewicz / Getty Images)

• Iona can beat UConn. It actually can. Yes, this crew has Rick Pitino, however extra importantly, it has the expertise to execute Rick Pitino basketball. The Gaels choose up fullcourt on the defensive finish, they’ve high-major dimension within the frontcourt with 6-9 Nelly Junior Joseph and 7-foot Osborn Shema, and so they have 9 gamers who common double-digit minutes. Give Pitino 5 days to arrange for a crew, and good issues often occur. I chickened out and went with UConn in the long run, however given the Huskies’ ballhandling vulnerabilities this season (234th within the nation in turnover share, per KenPom), they higher maintain the ball, or their keep within the match might be a brief one.


NCAA Tournament West Region evaluation: Kansas, UCLA, Gonzaga and extra

• UCLA has lengthy struck me as a crew that was constructed for postseason success. Winning ugly is a extremely valued ability in March, and the Bruins have that capability in spades. Unfortunately, a giant purpose for that, junior guard Jaylen Clark, arguably the perfect defensive participant within the nation, has been misplaced to an Achilles harm. UCLA additionally has a giant query mark within the standing of 6-10 freshman ahead Adem Bona, an elite rim protector and rebounder who didn’t play within the Pac-12 match closing due to a shoulder harm. UCLA coach Mick Cronin stated he expects Bona to be prepared, however I nonetheless consider Clark’s harm means the Bruins’ season will finish in need of Houston. I’ve bought the Bruins dropping within the Sweet 16 to Gonzaga, however if you wish to take a flyer and choose them to get eradicated earlier than that, I gained’t speak you out of it.

• In retrospect, the criticism of Gonzaga this season (together with from me) was overdone. Aside from the crew’s dwelling loss to Loyola Marymount in January, the entire Zags’ losses had been of the utmost high quality (at Texas, Purdue and Baylor on a impartial court docket, and at Saint Mary’s in extra time). This crew suffered compared to earlier Gonzaga squads, nevertheless it confirmed down the stretch simply how excessive its ceiling will be when it performs mad. Gonzaga avenged its loss to Saint Mary’s by beating the Gaels at dwelling by 9 after which dominated the Gaels by 26 within the closing of the WCC match. Gonzaga nonetheless has championship DNA in addition to one of the dominant put up scorers in 6-10 junior ahead Drew Timme. Timme loves nothing greater than to take over a detailed, high-pressure sport within the closing minutes. A Gonzaga-UCLA Sweet 16 sport could be a rematch of their epic Final Four sport in 2021. At full power, I’d go together with UCLA, however sans Clark, I’ll take the Zags.

(Top photograph: Carly Mackler / Getty Images)

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