By now you’ve been reading about every team competing for the 2023 NCAA title. You’ve picked your bracket and you’re ready for all the rounds. But you are still looking for more.
Here you go.
We polled ESPN’s crew of men’s college basketball commentators, analysts and writers — off-court experts, if you will — for their thoughts on the best in the field of ’68. Who did they win in each region, and who did they win it all?
Our panel of 42 experts couldn’t agree on which team will win this season, make it to the Final Four and cut the net at NRG Stadium in Houston on April 3. They chose from 10 different teams, proving it’s a wide, wide open field, and anyone is up for the taking.
Don’t forget to fill out your own bracket in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge! Printable brackets can be found here.
The southern region belongs to Alabama
The Crimson Tide’s news of closing the court didn’t hurt their selection. The No. 1 overall seed in Selection Sunday — and that didn’t seem to hurt his chances of winning the South Region either. Of our 42 experts, 29 of Nate Oats’ squads made it to the Final Four. That’s a whopping 69%. Other picks include 2-seed Arizona (7 votes), 3-seed Baylor (4) and a lone taker for 6-seed Creighton. Does Sam Ravech know something we don’t about the region’s upside potential?
It’s a Texas affair in the Midwest
Two teams from the Lone Star State anchor the region: Houston and Texas. Each of the top five seeds in this quarter of the bracket received at least one vote, with more than half going to the 2-seed Longhorns (54.8% or 23 votes), one-third to the 1-seed Cougars (14) and 3-seed Xavier (2), 4-seed Indiana (1) and single-digit votes for 5-seed Miami (1). A third Texan school in the region also received a vote: Given Texas A&M’s relative success in the SEC this season, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility for Marty Smith.
East goes blue
We have a lot of trust in our experts and public share among the largest population of braces fillers. The first-year Duke head coach, who led his freshman-led crew to a 5-seed, has 62% of our experts’ confidence. In fact, there’s an interesting trend: 45% both chose Alabama And Duke will be in the Final Four; 26% picked Alabama, Texas and Duke for the Final Four.
A brave few believe 1-seed Purdue has a chance to reach the Final Four (2), but for the most part, our experts predict some significant upsets here. And why not? Besides the Blue Devils, Big East champ Marquette is just as dangerous as a 2-seed and comes in as the second overall favorite (11 of 42).
The West is in an impasse
This may be the most interesting of the regions this year, at least to ESPN’s experts, who split the final winner five different ways. There was surprisingly less confidence in reigning champion and top seed Kansas (19.5%) than 4-seed UConn (31.7%). Gonzaga slid into that Final Four, hitting 24.4%. UCLA, even with its injured defensive star Jaylen Clark out, still has a shot at something. And Arkansas, home to a couple of first-round NBA draft picks, gave two nods.
So, who will cut the net?
Because that’s what you and we all want to know.
Unfortunately, our experts are just as divided as the rest of us. A combination of Texas and Houston (38.1%) edged out the Midwest region over Alabama and the South (26.2%). Meanwhile, our experts don’t like a possible repeat for Kansas (7.1%). Or, for that matter, a larger population. According to 9,295,314 brackets (and counting), just under 11% are predicting the Jayhawks will bring home a third straight Big 12 championship. Duke and UConn are more preferred by our experts (11.9% and 9.5%, respectively) than the larger bracket population by 3.1% and 2.1%, respectively). No, Jay didn’t win everything in luxury.
See how everyone voted below*.
* Champion picks are indicated with an asterisk
ESPN’s Kyle Sopp contributed to this story.