Predicting the NCAA Tournament Champion

The UConn Huskies have a great chance to be the 2023 NCAA tournament champion based on historical data.

One of the best ways to fill out a bracket is to decide who will be the National Champion. That is a lot harder than it sounds. However, some statistical data can come into play here. For those diehard college basketball fans, KenPom is a frequently visited site that can assist in predicting outcomes. Over the last 20 seasons, 18 champions finished inside the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Of the two outliers, they were elite in one of the two categories and slightly outside the top 20 in the other. This year, the list is much shorter than you might imagine.

Predicting the 2023 NCAA Tournament Champion

Houston Cougars

Houston ranks 11th in offensive efficiency and fourth in defensive efficiency. Anyone that has watched the Cougars this year knows they play a physical brand of basketball. They have a ton of athletes and plenty of experience. Unfortunately, there are question marks about star guard Marcus Sasser who suffered a groin injury in the AAC Championship game. If he is even slightly less than 100 percent, Houston cannot win the NCAA tournament. However, if he is healthy, Houston can improve on that Elite 8 run from last year and cut down the nets in their hometown.

Alabama Crimson Tide

The reigning SEC champs come in with the 19th-best offense and 3rd-best defense. Most people probably would have guessed those numbers would be flipped. However, that bodes well for Alabama. Their offense can get red hot led by National Player of the Year candidate Brandon Miller. If the defense continues to pester people and shots are falling from deep, it would be difficult to find a team that can beat Alabama. The big questions for them will be if they can play consistently good basketball under the brightest of lights.

Connecticut Huskies

UConn boasts the 6th-best offense and 18th-best defense. They started the season as well as anyone could have expected but then sputtered mid-season. However, it seems as though the Huskies are back to playing their best basketball. That first-round matchup with Iona is going to require some high-level basketball but if UConn is rolling they will be tough to slow down. The energy and passion the Huskies play with means they can bring their own juice, so to speak, and light up the quietest of NCAA tournament gyms. If Jordan Hawkins is shooting well, UConn is a problem.

Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns cut down the Big 12 nets in dominant fashion. After losing Timmy Allen in the Big 12 Tournament, they responded by throttling Kansas in the Big 12 title game. Guard play is important and Texas has two of the best in Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter. Texas has always been a really tough team to trust in March Madness, but this year they have as good of a chance as any. As long as the Longhorns are committed on the defensive end, they should be in Houston.

NCAA Tournament Champion Prediction

Let’s throw another wrench in the equation. Of the last eight NCAA tournament champions, six lost in their conference tournament. Of the four teams mentioned above that meet the KenPom qualifications, two lost their conference tournament. UConn dropped a close game to Marquette in the Big East tournament and Houston got hammered by Memphis in the AAC tournament final. With these historic trends, we have narrowed the field of 68 down to just two teams. One of those two teams has a significant injury to their star player which makes them very difficult to rely on. That leaves just one team remaining to cut down the nets in Houston, Texas this April: the UConn Huskies. Of course, this is just using historical trends, but they are a popular pick as it is. Best of luck!