The conference tournaments are behind us, and all eyes are now on the 64 teams – 68 teams if you count the First Four – that will be battling it out in March to see who is crowned the 2023 NCAA Men’s College Basketball champion. Our preview and ticket links for the South & West regions can be found here, but this post will look at the East & Midwest sides of the bracket.
The No. 1 seed in the East is Purdue, and the Big 10 squad will look to dominate the field in Columbus, Ohio, in their Friday/Sunday pod. The Boilermakers have something no other team can boast in sensational big man Zach Edey. The potential Naismith Award winner is a legit 7-foot-4 with a speed and quickness that belies that height, and he will be an absolute menace against the undersized teams that Purdue will expect to face in Round 1 and Round 2.
The Boilermakers will look to put their struggles in late regular season conference play behind them and move on to the Sweet 16 at Madison Square Garden in New York. No. 8 Memphis is a more dangerous team than most think, as evidenced by their win over No. 1 seed Houston in the AAC Championship game. No. 5 Duke should never be counted out – they ended the season on a nine-game win streak, and momentum is massive in March – and they are an outstanding defensive squad.
Kentucky and Michigan State ate other legacy programs in this pod, but No. 2 seed Marquette and No. 3 Kansas State will both think they have the tools to take down Purdue.
The No. 1 seed in the Midwest in Houston, the team that lost to Memphis in the AAC Tournament final but had been dominant over the regular season. Houston will be playing on Thursday/Saturday in Birmingham, Alabama. Their Sweet 16 destination – should they hold serve – will be at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City.
The Final Four is in Houston this year, so the Cougars have extra motivation to fight through what looks to be a particularly tough pod. This was a Final Four team two years ago and a Sweet 16 squad last year, so there will be no lack of confidence in the Houston lineup. If ACC Player of the Year is sidelined – or even slowed – by the hamstring strain that kept him out of the loss to Memphis, it will be a big ask for Houston to run the table.
No. 2 seed Texas should have been a No. 1 seed based on having the second most Quad 1 wins in the entire country and a Big 12 title win over Kansas. No. 3 Xavier is an efficient machine at its best, while No. 10 seed Penn State only just lost to Purdue in the Big Ten Championship game, and No. 5 seed Miami was the ACC Tournament No. 1 seed and is a tough squad that has a habit of winning close games. This is a brutal bracket to be in.