March Madness 2023 Preview



March Madness Bracket for the 2023 season.

John Murray, Contributing Writer

March is one of the most exciting months to be a fan of sports in America. Last Sunday (3/12), the NCAA released an official March Madness college basketball bracket for many people to fill out. Hope is in the air for 68 universities and their students who envision their team surviving the tournament and coming out as champions. Students and fans of the colleges will root for their teams to go far in the tournament. Hingham High senior and upcoming Providence University freshman Evan Jewell stated, “I’m very excited and am going to watch all of their games.”  However, many teams felt slighted and thought they deserved a place in the tournament. One of these teams was Vanderbilt who finished with 20 wins and 14 losses, a better record than their conference foe, Auburn, who notched an eight seed. Starting Thursday, college basketball fans are excited to see how the tournament unfolds and are hoping for excitingly close games that lead to goosebump buzzer-beaters in what should be a thrilling tournament. 

Going into the tournament, four teams earned the coveted number one seed: Houston, Kansas, Purdue, and Alabama, the latter of which was ranked number one in the entire nation. The four number-one seeds will be facing off against 16 seeds, in games that are essentially a formality. Only once since the inception of the tournament, in 1939, has a 16 seed beat a number one seed. (#16 the University of Maryland Baltimore County beat the University of Virginia in 2018). 

Of these four top teams two stand out above the rest: Houston, who will have home court in the Final Four should they make it that far, and Kansas, who is the defending champion. Houston has been known for having teams with opulent talent, most notably their 1983 squad with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, but always seem to fall short. In their fabled history, Houston has never won a national championship. However in 2021, they made it to the Final Four and in 2022 they looked poised to repeat, but went on a cold shooting stretch versus Villanova and never recovered. 

Kansas is the complete opposite, as they have won the championship numerous times. They seek to become the first back-to-back March Madness winners since Billy Donavon’s 2006-07 Florida Gators, led by Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and the Celtics’ own Al Horford. Both Houston and Kansas are led by upperclassmen, Kansas by junior Jalen Wilson, and Houston by senior Marcus Sasser. 

One of the highlights of the tournament every year is seeing upsets. An upset is when a team that was expected to lose beats a team they thought to be far superior. Last year’s “Cinderella Story” was St. Peters who was slotted as a number 15 seed. As a small school, St. Peters was looked at as an easy first-round exit. However, they defied the odds and players like Doug Edert became household names. They were defeated by the prestigious North Carolina in the Elite Eight. This year St. Peters did not make the tournament as their coach and premiere players pursued the transfer portal and left. Another great aspect of March Madness is predicting the upsets and sounding like an expert once they hit. Colin Chisholm, a junior at Hingham High School is confident that he has found the upset of the tournament, predicting #8 seed Memphis to beat the top seed Purdue in the second round. Memphis has been a popular pick to go far in the tournament based on their 75-65 victory vs Houston. They are coached by former Orlando Magic all star and Memphis alum, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Once hailed as the next Magic Johnson, his career was unfortunately cut short due to injuries. However, he has found a career revitalization as a coach for his former team. Memphis has yet to win an NCAA championship for basketball, their fans have been eager since coming up just short in the 2008 finals after Kansas’s Mario Chalmers sent the game to overtime with a miraculous three-point shot. Memphis is looking for redemption 15 years in the making.

March Madness is not just for college basketball fans. Viewers watch to see the future stars in professional basketball. This year is different from past years as some of the best young players such as Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson have decided to play in the “G” League instead of college basketball. This does not mean that college basketball is not littered with talent, the tournament is rich with great players that will shape the sport for years to come. Arguably the best player in the entire tournament is Purdue’s center Zach Edey. Last year he was projected to be a top-five pick in the NBA, however, he returned to college and lead the Boilermakers to a #1 seed. Standing at 7’4” he is a nightmare matchup for any opposing defender. Usually, a team will resort to double-teaming the big man, but he is surrounded by skilled shooters who hit an open three with ease. It will be interesting to see how coaches will game plan against Edey. Another center-player who fans are anxious to see is Gonzaga’s Drew Timmie, who already is known for his NCAA tournament performances of the past two years. However, Timmie has never been the star of Gonzaga as he took a back seat to Jalen Suggs in 2021 and Chet Holmgren in 2022. This year it is his team and he will finally get a chance to shine as the Bulldog’s headline player. 

March Madness begins on Thursday (3/16) as West Virginia and Maryland tip off a highly anticipated tournament. Before the tournament starts students have high expectations for their teams. Senior Olivia Nimboorkar who will be attending Baylor University next year expressed her confidence in the team. She said, “We are the #3 seed in the south, and I believe we will win the tournament.” She will be one of many fans hoping their team can claim the prestigious title.

Purdue’s Zach Edey gets past Texas’s Brock Cunningham during the first half of a second-round of last years NCAA college basketball tournament game Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Milwaukee. (Morry Gash)