2023 NCAA tournament bracket: What to know about every team in the Midwest region
Houston is the betting favorite to win the men's NCAA tournament
[Regional breakdowns: South | East | Midwest | West]
With the field for the 2023 men’s NCAA tournament now official, we’re breaking down each team in the bracket in the lead-up to the tournament. Here’s what you need to know about the Midwest region.
No. 1 Houston (+550 to win national title)
The Cougars are the favorites to win the national title thanks to a decent draw and a team that ranks exceptionally high in offensive and defensive metrics. The Cougars are the top team in KenPom.com’s rankings and rank sixth in offensive rating and first in defensive rating in Sports Reference’s metrics.
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There is a slight reason for concern with Houston. Marcus Sasser missed the AAC title game because of a groin injury and his status for the NCAA tournament is unclear. Sasser is the AAC Player of the Year and averages 17 points a game. Houston has more than enough talent to get to the Sweet 16 without him, but he’s going to need to be on the court in the Sweet 16 and beyond if Houston is going to live up to its favorite status.
No. 2 Texas (+1600)
26-8, Big 12 champions
The Longhorns have gone 19-7 under interim head coach Rodney Terry after Chris Beard’s suspension and eventual dismissal and have made a great case for Terry to be named as Beard’s permanent successor. Texas beat Kansas twice over the past eight days of the season to show it’s a national title contender, thanks to its great depth. Nine players get at least 12 minutes a game for the Longhorns and all nine have played in at least 31 games. Marcus Carr leads Texas with 16 points per game.
No. 3 Xavier (+5000)
The Musketeers have long odds to win the national title in part because of the absence of Zach Freemantle. He’s out for the season due to a foot injury. Xavier still has a lot of scoring and can shoot from 3 as well as anyone in college basketball. Xavier shoots 39% from deep and 54% overall on the way to scoring 81 points per game. Getting hot from behind the arc can carry a team a long way in the NCAA tournament. While Xavier scores a lot, it also allows a lot of points. Opponents score 74 points per game.
No. 4 Indiana (+3500)
Trayce Jackson-Davis is one of the best players in the country. The senior forward averages 21 points and 11 rebounds a game, and is capable of carrying Indiana through the tournament. The Hoosiers beat Purdue twice during the regular season and also beat Xavier in the opening weeks of the season. Indiana also lost eight games in a relatively meh Big Ten and fell to Penn State in the postseason tournament. Freeing up Miller Kopp for great looks from deep may be a tournament key. He’s shooting 44% on four attempts per game.
No. 5 Miami (+5000)
The Hurricanes will be hoping that Norchad Omier can give it a go in the tournament. He left Miami’s ACC semifinal game loss to Duke early in the first half after severely twisting his right ankle while going for a rebound. Omier is the team’s third-leading scorer with 13.6 points per game and averages 10 rebounds a contest. The Hurricanes won the ACC regular-season title and are one of the best shooting teams in the country at 55% from the field.
No. 6 Iowa State (+6600)
The Cyclones salvaged a rough end to the season with back-to-back wins over Baylor in March. Iowa State had lost eight of nine Big 12 games before beating the Bears to end the regular season. ISU gives up just 63 points per game and averages nine steals a contest. That helps make up for a team that ranks outside the top 50 in rebounding. ISU made it to the Sweet 16 a year ago and another tournament run this season could show that its struggles at the end of the season were a byproduct of a tough Big 12.
No. 7 Texas A&M (+5000)
The Aggies could be the most under-seeded team in the tournament. A&M finished second in the SEC during the regular season and made it to the conference title game yet drew only a No. 7 seed after infamously missing the tournament a season ago. Guard Wade Taylor leads the team with 16 points a contest and five players average at least nine points per game. A win over Penn State in the first round sets up a likely matchup with Texas in the second round.
No. 8 Iowa (+10000)
The Hawkeyes score 80 points a game and broke the century mark four times in 2022-23. But things can get rough for Iowa when shots aren’t falling. The Hawkeyes allow 74 points a contest and scored fewer than 74 points in just one win this season. Kris Murray leads the team with 20 points and eight rebounds a game while Filip Rebraca also shoots over 57% from the field.
No. 9 Auburn (+10000)
The Tigers went 4-8 over their past 12 SEC contests and lost to Arkansas in the first round of the SEC tournament. Auburn shoots just 31% from behind the arc and ranks 322nd in the country. The Tigers also commit 19 fouls per game and send their opponents to the free-throw line 22 times a contest. John Broome leads Auburn with 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and has at least 10 points in 13 of his past 14 games.
No. 10 Penn State (+15000)
The Nittany Lions are in the tournament for the first time in 12 years after a strong end to the season. Penn State made it to the Big Ten title game and nearly stole the conference championship from Purdue in the final minute. PSU won five of its past six regular-season games after a four-game losing streak and solidified its status as a tournament team with three wins in the Big Ten tournament. Jalen Pickett averages 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game while Seth Lundy scores 14 points a game.
No. 11 Mississippi State (+25000)
Mississippi State is in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2019 in Chris Jans’ first season with the team and the Bulldogs have to beat Pitt for a chance at TCU. MSU had a horrid start to SEC play. The Bulldogs won one of their first eight games before a five-game win streak that included wins over Missouri and Arkansas. The Bulldogs also beat Texas A&M on Feb. 25. Tolu Smith leads the team with 16 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
No. 11 Pitt (+20000)
The Panthers went 14-6 in the ACC after an 8-4 start to the season. A six-game conference win streak that included victories over Miami and North Carolina propelled Pitt into the tournament, though the Panthers have lost three of their past four games and were blown out by Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Pitt’s guards carry the scoring load for the team and the Panthers shoot 26 triples a game.
No. 12 Drake (+50000)
27-7, Missouri Valley champion
The Bulldogs marauded through the MVC tournament with three easy wins. The closest game was a 12-point victory over Murray State, and Drake beat Bradley, 77-51, in the conference title game after Bradley beat the Bulldogs by 12 to end the regular season. Drake shoots 37% from 3 and leading scorer Tucker DeVries averages 19 points on 14 shots per game. Drake will be a popular upset pick if Norchad Omier is unable to play for Miami.
No. 13 Kent State (+50000)
28-6, MAC champion
The Golden Flashes are back in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017 and just the second time since 2008. An upset win over Indiana would be the team’s first victory in the tournament since it reached the Elite Eight in 2002. Sincere Carry averages nearly 18 points and five assists per game and Kent State enters the tournament having won nine of its past 10 games since losing, 67-55, to Akron on Feb. 3.
No. 14 Kennesaw State (+100000)
26-8, Atlantic Sun champion
It’s the first tournament appearance in school history for the Owls after they beat Liberty, 67-66, to win the Atlantic Sun title. Kennesaw State is coached by Amir Abdur-Rahim. His brother Shareef played 13 years in the NBA and is currently the president of the G League. Georgia natives Chris Youngblood and Terrell Burden combined to average 28 points per game, and they’re the only two players on the team who average over 30 minutes per game.
No. 15 Colgate (+100000)
26-8, Patriot champion
Colgate is in its third consecutive NCAA tournament and fourth in five seasons after the 2020 tournament was canceled. The Raiders are the best team in the country from 3-point range, shooting 41% from behind the arc on 20 attempts per game. Five players average at least 10 points per game and Colgate scores 79 points per contest. Colgate has been a popular low-seed upset pick in its three previous tournament appearances but has lost in the first round all three times. Is the fourth time the charm against Texas?
No. 16 Northern Kentucky (+100000)
22-12, Horizon champion
The Norse finished second in the Horizon League in the regular season and beat Cleveland State, 63-61, to win the conference title and make the NCAA tournament for the third time in school history. Marques Warrick scores 19 points per game and shoots 44% from the field. Houston could dominate the Norse on the glass, however. NKU ranks 360th in the country in defensive rebounding rate.