Did you enjoy the first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Tournament? For the second time in five years, we saw the #1 seed go down to 16th seed. Fairleigh Dickinson defeated the Purdue Boilermakers in stunning fashion. The Purdue upset was the lone one in the East Region in the first round. In the South, we had Furman defeat Virginia with a 3-pointer with less than 3 seconds remaining. Virginia being beaten wasn’t the only upset in the South Region. Arizona fell to the 15th seeded Princeton Tigers. Princeton advanced to the Sweet 16 after manhandling Missouri. Furman lost to San Diego State to end their Cinderella run. The Midwest went as planned just about with only Miami defeating Indiana. Miami is the 5th seed, and the Hoosiers came in as the 4th seed. Houston, Texas, and Xavier are the top 3 seeds all advanced.
The West Region saw everything fall into place also with no upsets. The top 4 seeds in that region all have advanced to the Sweet 16. Who will advance to the 2023 Men’s Final Four next weekend in Houston? Let’s see who I think will be the Final Four contestants in Houston next weekend.
In the first game, we have the Alabama Crimson Tide battling the San Diego State Aztecs. The Crimson Tide is the #1 overall seed and they showed in their 2nd round win over Maryland. In the first game, Brandon Miller didn’t score, but showed glimpses of why he’s going to be a top pick. The Aztecs are a gritty team that plays great defense. As a matter of fact, the Aztecs are probably the best defensive squad besides Tennessee in the tournament. In the second matchup, we have the 6th seed Creighton Blue Jays battling the 15th seeded Princeton Tigers. Creighton surprised many with their win over the 3rd seed Baylor Bears. Princeton stunned the world when they defeated the 2nd seed Arizona Tigers. Princeton looked great on defense in both of their wins while displaying an efficient offense. Creighton is a team I’ve had advancing this far and think they will beat Princeton.
In the Elite 8, the top seed Alabama Crimson Tide take on the 6th seed Creighton Blue Jays. Alabama will have to deal with a 7-footer in Ryan Kalkbrenner who can protect the rim. Kalkbrenner is also their top scorer so the Crimson Tide will try to get him in foul trouble. There’s a reason why the Tide are the #1 overall seed in the tournament. They possess a handful of NBA prospects including Brandon Miller who’s a lottery pick. Alabama also has veterans on this team and will help in this matchup. In a good game, I’m picking the Tide to barely get by the Blue Jays and advance to the Final Four. Winner: Alabama Advances to the Final Four
We headed to the East Region where we had the top 2 seeds eliminated. The top seed Purdue Boilermakers fell in the first-round while Marquette lost in the second. In the first game, we have the 4th seed Tennessee Volunteers battling the 9th seed Florida Atlantic. Tennessee barely edged Louisiana in the first round and blew out Duke in the second. FAU defeated Memphis by a point and beat Fairleigh Dickinson in the second round. The Volunteers defense will be too much, and they’ll advance. Kansas State will take on Michigan State for the rights to play in the Elite 8. Markquis Nowell and Keyontae Johnson have proved to be a formidable pair. The Spartans struggle behind the arc but are great on defense. They force turnovers also and Coach Izzo is still one of the best. In a tough one, I’m picking the Spartans to advance.
Who will advance to the Final Four between Tennessee and Michigan State? Tennessee is arguably the best defensive team in the country. The Volunteers held a great Duke team to only 52 points in the second round. Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser will be key if the Spartans are to advance to the Final Four. This will be the game the Vols will miss point guard Zakai Zeigler. Zeigler had a season-ending injury, and this will help the Spartans and Coach Izzo head to the Final Four. Winner: Michigan State Advances to the Final Four
We go to the Midwest Region where all the top four seeds almost advanced to the Sweet 16. The 5th seed Miami Hurricanes took down the 4th seed Indiana Hoosiers. In the first game, they will meet the Houston Cougars who’s the #1 seed. The #2 Texas Longhorns will meet the #3 seed in the Xavier Musketeers. Houston and Miami both blew out their opponents in the round of 32. Miami was one of the bright spots in the ACC this season. The Cougars should be fully healthy for this matchup and one they should win. Texas and Xavier should be a great matchup. The Longhorns are a team that will not beat themselves with costly mistakes. Texas also has one of the deepest benches in the tournament. Xavier is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. I’m going with Texas to edge by Xavier to advance.
Houston and Texas meeting in the Elite 8 could be an instant classic. The health of Marcus Sasser will be the determining factor if the Cougars advance. Houston has others that can score, but he’s the main star on this team. The Cougars can score with anyone, and it was on full display in the 2nd half against Auburn. Marcus Carr can put up points just like Sasser can with Houston. The Longhorns also have a lot of other guys that can score also. This game will come down to the last possession and I’m picking the Cougars to advance. Winner: Houston Advances to the Final Four
Last, but not least we head to the West Region where the top seed Kansas Jayhawks fell to Arkansas in the 2nd round. The 8th seed Arkansas Razorbacks will battle the 4th seed UConn Huskies. In the other matchup, we will have two west coast powers battling each other. The 2nd seed UCLA Bruins will meet the 3rd seed Gonzaga Bulldogs. Arkansas came into this tournament losers of four of their last five games. They possess an amazing defense, which makes up for their 3-point deficiencies. UConn can beat any team in the nation at any given time. They are one of the better defensive teams also. The Huskies will end the Razorbacks Cinderella run. UCLA and Gonzaga have great leadership with their veterans. The Bruins don’t hurt themselves taking crazy 3-pointers like others. They also crash the boards, which is something that the Zags are missing. Bruins Win!
In the matchup to see who advances to the Final Four we have UConn battling UCLA. People tend to forget that UConn was a top-5 team at the beginning of the season. They have three excellent 3-pointer shooters. Donovan Clingan can control things down low and he’s an excellent shot blocker. Will the presence of Clingan in the middle hurt the Bruins offense? With UCLA, they’re not a team that relies on the 3-pointer, but this will be different. Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. will have to have the game of their lives against the Huskies. This is going to be a nail-biter, but I’m going to ride with UConn. Winner: UConn Advances to the Final Four
Final Four Prediction
Alabama Crimson vs. Michigan State Spartans
Houston Cougars vs. UConn Huskies