By now you’ve been reading about every team competing for the 2023 NCAA title. You have selected your bracket and you are all set for the rounds. But you’re still looking for more.
here you go.
We polled ESPN’s crew of men’s college basketball commentators, analysts and writers — court experts, if you will — for their thoughts on the best field in the Field of 68. Who wins in each area, and who do they win it all?
Our group of 42 experts failed to reach a consensus this season on which team will make the Final Four and net the nets on April 3 at NRG Stadium in Houston. They chose from 10 different teams, which proves it’s a wide, wide open field, and any are there for the taking.
Don’t forget to fill in your own brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge! The printable brackets can be found here.
South territory belongs to Alabama
The Crimson Tide’s news off the court didn’t hurt their selection as the No. 1 overall seed on Selection Sunday — and didn’t hurt their chances to win the South Regional. Thirty-nine of our 42 experts have Nate Oates’ team entering the Final Four. That’s a whopping 69%. Other picks include 2-seed Arizona (7 votes), 3-seed Baylor (4) and a lone picker for 6-seed Creighton. Does Sam Ravech know something that we don’t about the upset potential within this region?
It’s Texas in the Midwest
Two teams from the Lone Star State anchor the region: Houston and Texas. The top five seeds each received at least one vote in this quarter of the bracket, more than half the 2-seed Longhorns (54.8%, or 23 votes), one-third the 1-seed Cougars (14) and the 3-seed Single-digit votes for Xavier (2), 4-seed Indiana (1) and 5-seed Miami (1). The third Texan school in the region also got the vote: Given Texas A&M’s relative success in the SEC this season, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility for Marty Smith.
east turns blue
There is a lot of trust in John Scheer among our experts and a large population of bracket filers. The first-year Duke head coach, who guided his freshman crew to a 5-seed, has 62% confidence of our experts. In fact, here’s an interesting trend: 45% chose Alabama. Both. And Duke would be in the Final Four; 26% picked Alabama, Texas, and Duke for the Final Four.
Some Braves believe that 1-seed Purdue is likely to reach the Final Four (2), but for the most part, our experts predict some significant upsets here. Why not? In addition to the Blue Devils, Big East champion Marquette is equally dangerous as it receives the 2-seed and comes in as the second overall favorite (11 of 42).
the west is at an impasse
This might be the most interesting field this year, at least for ESPN’s experts, who were split five different ways on the eventual winner. Defending champion and top seed Kansas (19.5%) had surprisingly low confidence compared to 4-seed UConn (31.7%). Gonzaga is tapped 24.4% to slide into that Final Four spot. UCLA, despite being out of its injured defensive star Jaylen Clark, still has a shot for some. And some nods to Arkansas, home of a projected couple of first-round NBA draft picks.
So, who’s going to cut down the nets?
Because that’s what you and all of us want to know.
Unfortunately, our experts are just as divided as the rest of us. The Midwest region is winning over Alabama and the South (26.2%) in combination with Texas and Houston (38.1%). Meanwhile, a possible repeat for Kansas is not favored by our experts (7.1%). Or, for that matter, a large population. According to 9,295,314 brackets (and counting), just under 11% are predicting the Jayhawks to clinch their third consecutive Big 12 championship. Duke and Yukon are more favored by our experts (11.9% and 9.5%, respectively, while the population of the at-large class is 3.1% and 2.1%, respectively). No, Jay Bilas doesn’t have an alma mater to conquer it all.
See how everyone voted below*.
* Champion picks are indicated with an asterisk
ESPN’s Kyle Soppe contributed to this story.