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 everything you need to know about the Midwest region.
[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Bracket: Men’s | Women’s]
No. 1 Houston (+550 to win the national title)
The Cougars are favorites to win the national title thanks to a good draw and a team that ranks exceptionally high in both offensive and defensive metrics. The Cougars are the top team in KenPom.com’s rankings and are ranked sixth in offensive rating and first in defensive rating in the Sports Reference metrics.
But there is a slight cause for concern about Houston. Marcus Sasser missed the AAC title game due to a groin injury and his status for the NCAA tournament is unclear. Sasser is the AAC Player of the Year and is averaging 17 points a game. Houston has enough talent to reach the Sweet 16 without him, but he needs to be on the court in the Sweet 16 if Houston is going to stay in his favored position.
No. 2 Texas (+1600)
The Longhorns went 19–7 under interim coach Rodney Terry following the suspension and eventual dismissal of Chris Beard and made a strong case for naming Terry as Beard’s permanent successor. Texas beat Kansas twice in the last eight days of the season to show that it is a national title contender due to its great depth. Nine players get at least 12 minutes in a game for the Longhorns and all nine players have played at least 31 games. Marcus Carr leads Texas in points with 16 points per game.
No. 3 Xavier (+5000)
The Musketeers have longer chances to win a national title partially due to the absence of Zach Freemantle. He is out for the season due to a foot injury. But Xavier still has plenty of scoring and can shoot the ball from the three as well as anyone in college basketball. Javier shoots 39% from deep and 54% overall on his way to scoring 81 points per game. Getting hot from behind the arc can take a team a long way in the NCAA tournament. But when Javier scores a lot, it also gives away a lot of points. Opponents get 74 points per game.
No. 4 Indiana (+3500)
Trace Jackson-Davis is one of the best players in the country. The senior forward has been able to average 21 points and 11 rebounds a game and carry Indiana through the tournament. The Hoosiers defeated Purdue twice during the regular season and also defeated Xavier in the opening weeks of the season. But Indiana relatively lost eight games in the Big Ten and lost to Penn State in the post-season tournament. Freeing up Miller Cope for a great look from deep could be a tournament key. He is shooting 44% on four attempts per game.
No. 5 Miami (+5000)
The Hurricanes will be hoping that Norchard Omier can let it go in the tournament. He missed the start of the first half in Miami’s ACC title game loss to Duke after severely spraining his right ankle while going for a rebound. Omier is the team’s third leading scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game and 10 rebounds a contest. The Hurricanes won the ACC regular season title and are one of the best shooting teams in the nation, shooting 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 defeating the Bears to end the regular season. ISU gives up just 63 points per game and averages nine steals a contest. This helps compensate for a team that is outside the top 50 in rebounding. ISU made the Sweet 16 the year before and another tournament run this season suggests that its struggles late in the season were a byproduct of a tough Big 12.
No. 7 Texas A&M (+5000)
The Aggies may be the lowest 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 received only a No. 7 seed after missing the tournament a season earlier. Guard Wade Taylor leads the team with 16 points in a contest and five players are averaging at least nine points per game. A win over Penn State in the first round set up a potential matchup with Texas in the second round.
No. 8 Iowa (+10000)
The Hawkeyes scored 80 points in a game and broke the century mark four times in 2022-23. But when the shots aren’t falling, things can get tough for Iowa. The Hawkeyes allowed 74 points a contest and scored fewer than 74 points in only one win this season. Chris Murray leads the team with 20 points and eight rebounds a game while Filip Rebraca is also shooting over 57% from the field.
No. 9 Auburn (+10000)
The Tigers went 4–8 in their last 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 committed 19 fouls per game and sent their opponents to the free throw line 22 times in the contest. John Broom leads Auburn with 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and has at least 10 points in 13 of his last 14 games.
No. 10 Penn State (+15000)
The Nittany Lions are in the tournament for the first time in 12 years after a strong finish to the season. Penn State made it to the Big Ten title game and nearly stole the title from Purdue in the last minute. PSU won five of its last six regular season starts after losing four games and solidified its status as a tournament team with three wins in the Big Ten Tournament. Jalen Pickett is averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists per game while Seth Lundy is averaging 14 points per game.
No. 11 Nevada (+50000)
Steve Alford’s group meets Arizona State in the play-in round for the right to play Iowa State in the first round. Nevada was the last team in the NCAA tournament and received a four-bid in the Mountain West after going 12–6. The Wolf Pack ended the season on a three-game losing streak, but the last two losses came in overtime to UNLV and San Jose State. Jarod Lucas scored 17 points per game while Kennon Blackshear averaged 14 and Will Baker averaged 13 points per contest. Nevada also shoots 79% from the free throw line as a team.
No. 11 Arizona State (+50000)
ASU beat USC in the Pac-12 Tournament on Thursday in a game that might have gotten the Sun Devils into the tournament. That win avenged a 68–65 loss to the Trojans in the regular season finale and a home loss to USC earlier in the year. ASU went 1–6 against the three other Pac-12 teams in the tournament; Its only win was an 89–88 victory over Arizona on February 25. Desmond Cambridge leads the team in scoring with 14 points per game.
Number 12 Drake (+50000)
The Bulldogs plundered the MVC tournament with three easy wins. The closest game was a 12-point victory over Murray State, and Bradley defeated the Bulldogs by 12 to end the regular season in the conference title game, 77–51. Drake shot 37% from three and leading scorer Tucker Davis averaged 19 points on 14 shots per game. Drake would be a popular upset pick if Omier is unable to play for Miami.
No. 13 Kent State (+50000)
The Golden Flashes are back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 and for the second time since 2008. An upset win over Indiana would be the team’s first win in the NCAA tournament since it reached the Elite Eight in 2002. Sincere Carey averaged nearly 18 points and five assists per game and Kent State entered the tournament winning nine of their last 10 games since losing 67–55 to Akron on February 3.
No. 14 Kennesaw State (+100000)
This is the first tournament appearance in school history for the Owls after defeating Liberty 67–66 to win the Atlantic Sun title. Kennesaw State is coached by Amir Abdur-Rahim. His brother Sharif 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 are the only two players on the team to average more than 30 minutes per game.
No.15 Colgate (+100000)
Colgate is in its third consecutive NCAA tournament and fourth in five seasons following the cancellation of the 2020 tournament. The Raiders are the best team in the nation 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 his last three tournaments, but has lost in the first round all three times. Is the fourth time the charm against Texas?
No. 16 Northern Kentucky (+100000)
The Norse finished the regular season second in the Horizon League and defeated Cleveland State 63–61 to win the conference title and make the NCAA tournament for the third time in school history. Marques Warrick is scoring 19 points per game and shooting 44% from the field. However, Houston could dominate the Norse on the glass. NKU ranks 360th in the nation in defensive rebounding rate.