Previewing the 2023 madness


Andrew Evans

One of the many locations for March Madness games is right down the road in Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

Andrew Evans, Staff Writer

This week marks the beginning of one of the biggest sporting events in the entire world, as 68 teams representing colleges all over America will battle it out on the court to determine a champion, commonly known as March Madness. The tournament gets underway on Thursday afternoon, and below is a preview of who the favorites, potential Cinderella stories, and other major headlines will be.

The Favorites

The big favorites to win March Madness are the highly seeded teams like Alabama, Houston, Kansas, Purdue, and UCLA. 

Alabama, the number one ranked team in the nation, plays a very fast style and relies on star freshman Brandon Miller to carry the load on offense. Despite the controversy off the court, Miller is able to shoot the ball from anywhere and is easily able to get by defenders, making him the best offensive player in college basketball. They shoot a lot of three point shots which can either be a major benefit or liability depending on if they are making them or not. 

Houston and UCLA play a very gritty style of basketball, embracing their physical and defensive style to wear down opponents. However, both Houston and UCLA have major injury concerns as both teams have seen their respective star guards in Marcus Sasser and Jaylen Clark go down with injuries. Fortunately for Houston, there are reports saying that Sasser should be ready to play their game on Thursday. On the other hand, it’s unlikely that Clark plays again for UCLA this year, meaning that seniors Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez will have to carry the load.

Kansas won the tournament last year, and they hope to become the first team since Florida  in 2007 to become a repeat winner. They are led by forward Jalen Wilson and guard Dajuan Harris, who were starters for last year’s championship team. One advantage that the Jayhawks will have on their opponents is their head coach Bill Self, who has proven to be one of the best in the history of the sport during his time at Kansas. However, Kansas is not the perfect team as they have shown a weakness in away games, losing in dominant fashion to Texas twice and losing to the likes of Baylor, TCU, Kansas State, and Iowa State.

The final favorite, Purdue, is the weirdest one. They are as close to a one man show as it can get, as 7’4” center Zach Edey dominates the paint for the Boilermakers. Edey is essentially unguardable and can grab almost every rebound with his unmatched height. If they are to make a run, it will be because of Edey. However, Purdue’s downfall is with the rest of the team. They only shoot a measly 32% from three point territory, and their pair of freshman guards in Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer have struggled against pressure.

Cinderella story

Last year, the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s University made one of the greatest Cinderella runs in March Madness history, becoming the first 15 seed to make the Elite 8. Although it is doubtful that there is a run of that caliber in this year’s tournament, there is always an underdog that captures the hearts of fans across the country.

The Golden Flashes of Kent State are one of those potential Cinderella teams, as they came out on top of an extremely competitive Mid-American Conference. They play very well on defense, led by Malique Jacobs, the defensive player of the year in the MAC. On offense, they’ll rely on Sincere Carry, who averages 17.6 points per game, to fill it up for the Flashes. They are matched up against Indiana, who has had their rough patches at times, but are well capable of pulling off the upset.

Back in 2021, Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16 as a 15 seed after defeating Ohio State and Florida. This time around, they are a 12 seed and their leader from 2021, Max Abmas, is back. Abmas is one of the best shooters in the nation, and overall as a whole, the Golden Eagles can shoot at an elite rate. On defense, they will be anchored by 7’5” center Connor Vanover. Vanover is not as dominant as Purdue’s Zach Edey, but he is a better shot blocker and shooter. The Golden Eagles are an experienced bunch, averaging 2.9 years of experience. This could bode well for them in their matchup against Duke, who starts four freshmen and only has one upperclassman that plays significant minutes.

An extreme Cinderella candidate are the Bulldogs of UNC Asheville. They are a 15 seed and will play one of the tournament favorites in 2 seed UCLA, but the Bulldogs’ ability to shoot from three can give them the edge against a UCLA team that is nowhere near healthy. Drew Pember leads the Bulldogs in scoring and has the potential to become the next household March Madness name.

Stars of March

With the national spotlight on all of these players, there will be several that rise to the occasion and go down in history for their performances. It is a team sport, but there are a couple of teams that will need their star player to perform well in order to win.

Baylor Scheierman is a forward for the 6th seeded Creighton Blue Jays, averaging 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists per game. He does a little bit of everything for the Jays, but he can elevate the team even further if he can get hot from behind the arc. His size, ability to navigate, and his knowledge of the game give him a level of versatility that is unmatched.

Kendric Davis is the all-time leading scorer in the American Athletic Conference, and for the first time in his four year career, he will play in the tournament. Davis transferred to Memphis after playing three seasons at SMU, and has been the best player for the Tigers, averaging 22 points and 5 assists per game. He has been one of the best guards in the nation for a couple of years, and this is his opportunity to cement his legacy if Memphis can make a run.

Tucker DeVries at Drake is a very similar player to the aforementioned Scheierman. Both are tall for their position, allowing for them to score over smaller defenders or drive past bigger defenders. DeVries does not have the same supporting cast as Scheierman, but he’s arguably a better scorer, averaging 19 points per game. Drake is a 12 seed in the tournament and will face a tough Miami team in the first round, but with DeVries, the Bulldogs will have a chance to pull off the upset.

All in all, this looks to be a very entertaining tournament. There are as many great players as ever, and nobody is a lock to make a run in the tournament. Three weeks of exciting matchups will culminate in the championship game on April 3rd.