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 all you need to know about South Zone.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Bracket: Men’s | Women’s]
29-5, Big Ten champion
Purdue began the season after losing lottery pick Jaden Ivey from the 2022 team, which earned the No. 3 seed and advanced to the Sweet 16. Now here it is back and better thanks to the unplanned emergence of Zach Edey.
7-4 center joining Purdue a three star project Has emerged as an unstoppable force in 2020 and a National Player of the Year favorite as a junior. Ade averaged 22.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks as a junior while leading Purdue to the No. 1 seed. He is surrounded by All-Big Ten honorable mention Braden Smith and Fletcher Lauer, who are ranked seventh nationally. Kenpom’s Adjusted Offensive Efficiency and 26th in defense. The Boilermakers have the longest head difference of any No. 1 seed, but Ade gives them a matchup nightmare and a chance to win any game.
No. 2 Marquette (+2500)
28-6, Big East champion
Like Purdue, Marquette was not expected to be here at the start of the season. The Golden Eagles entered the season without a single vote in the preseason AP Poll. They enter the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, having won nine straight games and 14 of their last 15.
With second-year coach Shaka Smart taking over for Steve Wojciechowski in 2021, the change at Marquette has been swift in his second season. Marquette began play ranked eighth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency while featuring Big East Player of the Year Tyler KolekWho averaged 13.3 points, 7.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game while shooting 39.4% from 3-point distance.
No. 3 Kansas State (+5000)
23-9, at large
Here’s another team that shouldn’t have been here. Like Purdue and Marquette, Kansas State entered the season outside the top 25. Coached by Florida transfer Keonte Johnson, Kansas State finished third in the nation’s toughest conference. Johnson is one of the stories of the year after recovering from a heart condition that nearly took his life in 2020 and ultimately ended his Florida career.
He transferred to KSU before emerging as an All-Big 12 player and re-emerging as an NBA prospect. After all, his basketball career was about to end. The Wildcats are ranked 19th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency and this will be a tough outing.
No. 4 Tennessee (+3000)
23-10, at large
Here’s a team that almost lived up to its preseason expectations. The Vols began the season ranked No. 11 and earned the No. 4 seed after finishing fifth in a tough SEC. Unfortunately for the Voles, they could have been seeded higher and entered tournament play on a downswing.
Tennessee lost starting point guard and elite defender Jakai Ziegler to an ACL tear on March 1. Without another true point guard on the roster, the Vols are hobbled and have lost two of their last three games. They ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency for the season. How this goes on without Ziegler in the lineup will be Tennessee’s biggest challenge.
No.5 Duke (+2500)
What a reversal armed with a Freshman class loaded with NBA prospects, Duke began the season ranked No. 7 in the nation. A 17–8 start in John Scheer’s first year as head coach dropped them out of the top 25. But Duke hasn’t dropped a game since its February 11 loss to Virginia. It reeled off six straight wins to close the regular season and then three wins to secure the ACC tournament championship. There is now talk that Duke is actually under-seeded on the five line.
The Blue Devils have an elite rim protector in freshman Derek Lively and a versatile All-ACC freshman in forward Kyle Filipowski. They will be one of the most watched teams in the East and in the NCAA tournament.
No. 6 Kentucky (+4000)
21-11, at large
Kentucky similarly saved its season from potential disaster. The Wildcats were on the verge of playing themselves out of the tournament midway through the season after starting the season ranked No. 4. The Wildcats were swept out of the polls at 10–6 early. But quality wins over Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State and Arkansas cleared the way for an NCAA bid. However, two losses to Vanderbilt in their last three games raised fresh questions about John Calipari’s team.
2022 National Player of the Year Oscar Tshebwe returns from a team that suffered a historic upset last year at St. Peter’s as the No. 2 seed. Will he and the Wildcats find redemption with less pressure – if ever a little?
No. 7 Michigan State (+10000)
Over a tough winter in East Lansing, Tom Izzo has led his Spartans to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th consecutive season. Michigan State finished the regular season ranked fourth in the Big Ten and lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament to an Ohio State team that finished 13th in conference play. This is not vintage Michigan State.
If the Spartans make a move, they will do so behind All-Big Ten guard Tyson Walker, a senior sharpshooter who has come up big in big moments — including Michigan State’s first home game in February After a deadly on-campus mass shooting.
Number 8 Memphis (+8000)
26-8, AAC champion
For once under Penny Hardaway, Memphis did not enter the NCAA Tournament, relying heavily on highly rated freshmen. Memphis has a starting lineup that boasts zero freshman total this season. In fact, The Tigers’ nine leading scorers are all seniors, First-team All-AAC players Kendrick Davis (22.1 points, 5.6 assists per game) and DeAndre Williams (17.8 points, 8 rebounds per game, 42.6% 3-point shooting) lead the way for a Memphis team that excels in adjusted offense. is at 26th position. 35th in efficiency and defense.
This is a team that just beat No. 1 seeded Houston in the AAC title game. May cause loss in March.
No. 9 Florida Atlantic (+20000)
31-3, CUSA Champion
Florida Atlantic is a strong 3-point shooting team (37.2%) with four players shooting 36.9% or better from distance. This is a dangerous asset come March. All-CUSA guards Jonelle Davis and Alijah Martin lead a team that ranks 32nd in adjusted offensive efficiency and 36th in defense. FAU’s first round matchup against Memphis is one of the most intriguing of the first round.
No. 10 USC (+20000)
The Trojans finished third in the Pac-12 and featured a pair of All-Pac 12 guards in Boogie Ellis (18 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3 assists per game) and Drew Peterson (14 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists per game). . They rank in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. This is not an elite USC team, but it is balanced and has strong guard play, which should lead to success in tournament play.
No. 11 Providence (+12500)
21-11, at large
The Friars are as cold as they get entering NCAA tournament play, having lost three straight and four of their last five. Their only win since February 18 came against a Georgetown team that fired program icon Patrick Ewing. This is not what you want to see in March.
Providence ranks 16th in the nation in offensive efficiency but 108th in defense. It will need a big game from All-Big East forward and Kentucky transfer Bryce Hopkins (16.1 points, 8.5 rebounds per game) to have any chance against the Wildcats.
No.12 Oral Roberts (+25000)
30-4, Summit League champions
Oral Roberts entered the NCAA Tournament on a 17-game win streak and was swept by the Summit League Championship. Its reward? A date with a red hot Duke team with a chip on his shoulder.
Two-time Summit League Player of the Year Max Abrams (22.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4 assists per game; 37.7% 3-point shooting) is a bucket that has been here before. He then led- no. 15 seed Oral Roberts reached the Sweet 16 in 2021 with wins over No. 2 seed Ohio State and No. 7 seed Florida. Now ORU is the No. 12 seed, but the road ahead could be tough.
No. 13 Louisiana (+50000)
26-7, Sun Belt Champion
Louisiana won five straight entering the tournament, but had only one game against a ranked team this season. They lost 100–72 to Texas in December. All-Sun Belt forward Jordan Brown is a force in the post who averaged 19.4 points and 8.7 rebounds this season. The Ragin’ Cajuns can turn it around and are 57th in offensive efficiency this year. But they are 1456 on defense and face an uphill task against a quality Tennessee team – even having lost their starting point guard.
No. 14 Montana State (+100000)
25-9, Big Sky Champion
The Bobcats won 13 of 14 on the way to the Big Sky Championship. This included three players scoring in double digits, including All-Big Sky forward Raequan Battle (17.4 points per game). Conference Defensive Player of the Year Darius Brown anchors a defense that ranks 73rd in defensive efficiency. But the Bobcats will have to fight for points against Kansas State with the 170th-ranked offense in the country.
No. 15 Vermont (+100000)
23-10, US East Champion
After an 8–10 start, Vermont reeled off 14 straight wins to clinch the America East crown. Their reward is a matchup with an equally hot Marquette team that just won the Big East. The Catamounts will need a big game from leading scorer Dylan Penn to keep things interesting.
No. 16 Texas Southern (+100000)
14-20, SWAC champions
No.16 Fairleigh Dickinson (+100000)
19-15, NEC Champion
Texas Southern won the SWAC conference tournament despite finishing six games below .500 this season. Fairleigh Dickinson isn’t much better with 15 losses. Don’t expect things to keep interesting against Purdue.