Let the madness begin

Sam Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief

This year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament might be the wildest that we’ve ever seen because we simply have no clue who’s going to win. Most years, there are a couple of teams that you can look at and confidently say that they’re contenders, but this is not the case in 2023.

From a local aspect, you have the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Duke Blue Devils competing in the Big Dance this year. The Blue Devils are fresh off of an ACC Tournament Championship, which should give them a boost heading into March Madness. As for the Wolfpack, they’re finally back in the tournament and are looking to make some noise. A first-round matchup against Creighton should be a fun one to watch.

Zooming out to the bracket as a whole, it’s hard to not get excited for some of the great matchups that we’ll get to see in the first round and potentially in future rounds. Examples of this are Auburn vs Iowa, Penn St. vs Texas A&M, Providence vs Kentucky, and the possibility of a previous Final Four rematch in the Sweet Sixteen with Gonzaga and UCLA. There simply is no shortage of fantastic games on the schedule. 

As far as insight as to who has the best chance to win, right now it’s looking like the Alabama Crimson Tide. Bama has been playing lights out as of late, capturing the SEC Championship and the number one overall seed. If you could pick out a favorite, it would likely be them.  

Some dark horse championship contenders would include the UConn Huskies, who have the roster to make a Final Four run, and the Duke Blue Devils, who might actually be the hottest team in college basketball after winning their last nine straight games. The Texas Longhorns, who just won the championship in the best conference in the country in the Big 12, are also dangerous. I could definitely see one or more of these teams winning it all this year.

If you’re looking for Cinderellas, you’ve come to the right place. It really seems like any low-seeded team could go on a Cinderella run this year; however, there are a few that have a slightly better chance. The first would be the 13-seed Furman Paladins. They have a talented roster and are playing a banged-up Virginia team that plays a very slow tempo of basketball. I could definitely see the Paladins winning a couple of games. The second team that is very capable of being a Cinderella is the 12-seed VCU Rams. VCU, like Furman, has a favorable first-round matchup and the ability to catch fire as the tournament rolls on. Don’t be surprised if the Rams go on a Sweet Sixteen run.

With the First Four kicking off the fun on Tuesday evening, the madness has officially begun. In the most up-in-the-air tournament field we’ve ever seen, it will be interesting to see who will ultimately be cutting down the nets in April.