Everyone enters the 2023 NCAA Tournament with national championship aspirations, yet only five teams have what it takes to cut down the nets.
Upsets are baked into the fabric of the NCAA Tournament and are the biggest reason why the first weekend is one of the most entertaining sports weekends of the year. But the purpose of the tournament is to determine a national champion — and picking the correct champion is a pre-requisite to winning your bracket pool.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have only been four champions that weren’t a top-3 seed. Nine of the past 11 champions were also ranked in the top-11 in the preseason AP poll. So, there’s a very good chance the team cutting down the nets in Houston on April 3 will be a top-3 seed that came into the season highly rated.
Of course, not all teams are created equal. As we see time and time again in those aforementioned upsets, there are high seeds that are vulnerable to early exits. I’m here to help you decipher which teams have the capability to win six games in the coming weeks.
I have been putting out a definitive list since the 2016-17 season of the teams that have the tools to climb the sport’s highest mountaintop. Each season, the eventual champion has been on this list. Along with the previously mentioned criteria, I also look at different things like balance, individual playmakers and guard play. Three of these teams – Houston, Texas and UCLA – were on my preseason list, while Alabama and Kansas emerged during the season.
This is not a list of the teams I think will make the Final Four or the only teams that can make long runs — a lot of that depends on matchups and a team’s respective draw. But these are the only ones I believe have the potential to beat whoever gets in their way. Some may flame out quickly, but here’s why you should pick one of these five teams to win the title:
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Header image courtesy of Houston Athletics.