The NCAA men's basketball tournament generates a great deal of hype every year. After all, March Madness can take teams to the pinnacle of success while elevating individual players to professional stardom.
This year's March Madness lines reflect the top contenders for the National Championship. Online sportsbooks have begun publishing their early favorites to take home the hardware. So, it's worth looking at the top five contenders to prevail in March Madness 2023.
The Houston Cougars are currently ranked number 2 in the country. They boast a 22-2 record with a 10-1 mark in conference play. They lead the American Athletic Conference over the 16-7 Tulane Green Wave.
The Cougars look poised to take home the championship. Senior Marcus Sasser leads the team with 16.0 points per game. Sasser's contribution to a well-balanced approach has helped the Cougars average 75.4 points per game. Freshman Jarace Walker has added 11.8 points per game this season.
Houston's last game was an 81-65 blowout of Temple. The Cougars got their revenge on Temple after dropping a close game 56-55 in January. Look for Houston to continue their powerful run into March Madness. They have the core to take them to the Final Four.
The defending national champs lost starters Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun. However, that has not stopped them from entering the national championship conversation.
The #9 Jayhawks sit at 19-5. While they are third in the Big 12, Kansas has played well against top opponents. The team's last victory came over #5 Texas 88-80. Similarly, the Jayhawks have beaten top-ranked opponents such as Kansas State, Indiana State and Indiana University.
After a 10-game winning streak, Kansas dropped three straight contests. Since then, the Jayhawks have won three of their last four. Expect the Jayhawks to go far in this year's tournament. Junior Jalen Wilson leads the club with 20.7 points per game, while freshman Gradey Dick has added 14.5 points per game. With that kind of offense, the Jayhawks will be tough to beat.
Purdue has been on a roll all year. They hold a 22-2 mark, placing them first in the Big Ten. Their most recent game was a 79-74 defeat at the hands of Indiana. But that defeat looks like a blip on Purdue's radar screen. The Boilermakers have one of the most balanced teams in the country. The club has averaged 74 points a game this year.
Junio Zach Edey leads the team with 22.4 points per game, which is good for fourth in the country. Edey's 13.2 rebounds per game (second in the country) add to an impressive statistical campaign. The first-place Boilermakers are ready to make a good run. They look poised to end the Jayhawks' title reign.
UConn has been a historically successful program. This year, the #20 Huskies are 19-6 and rank 6th in the Big East. While their record and standings may not seem overly impressive, they are one of the top sleeper picks to keep an eye on. The Huskies have won three in a row, including an 87-72 win over #10 Marquette.
The Huskies started the year on a phenomenal 14-0 run. They have cooled off since then, going 5-6 in their last 11 matchups. Nevertheless, the Huskies can put together a hot streak they can ride to March Madness glory. Keep an eye on the Huskies; they are getting ready to peak at the perfect time.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Alabama Crimson Tide are gearing up for a strong title run. This year, their 20-3 mark leads the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Their three losses this season have come against top-ranked opponents, including the UConn Huskies.
The Tide's biggest win this season was a thrilling quadruple overtime win over number one North Carolina 103-101. After a concerning 93-69 loss to Oklahoma, the Tide has bounced back with convincing back-to-back wins. Alabama is one team to watch closely as March Madness tips off.