The 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Basketball Tournament was filled with surprises and chaos. For example, none of the one seeds made it to the second weekend, and the highest-seeded team in the Final Four was a four seed. As a result, there were plenty of teams that excited viewers by achieving upsets and extending their stay in the tournament. Here are my ten most impressive teams in Men’s March Madness.
10. The Gonzaga University Bulldogs
Gonzaga reached the Elite Eight after outlasting the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Sweet Sixteen, a matchup that should be considered the best game of the tournament. Center Drew Timme led the charge for the Bulldogs, scoring 21, 28, and 36 points in the games they emerged victorious. Although they fell apart against the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies, the West Coast Conference tournament champions’ close wins against Texas Christian University and UCLA earn them a spot on this list.
JULIAN STRAWTHER FOR THE WIN
GONZAGA IS GOING TO THE ELITE 8 pic.twitter.com/UYWfOMZKeJ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 24, 2023
9. The University of Texas at Austin Longhorns
After winning the Big 12 Conference tournament, the Longhorns had all the momentum in the world heading into the NCAA Tournament. This energy helped to carry them to emphatic wins in the first three rounds, but they came up short against the high-scoring University of Miami Hurricanes. Whether forward Dylan Disu, who missed the game due to injury, would have changed the outcome is something that will never be known, but we do know that head coach Rodney Terry and his team have a lot to be proud of this season.
8. The Creighton University Bluejays
Throughout the regular season and NCAA Tournament, the Bluejays boasted a strong starting lineup surrounded around center Ryan Kalkbrenner. The team impressed in their upset of the Baylor University Bears, Ryan Nembhard especially stepping up to help Creighton control the flow of the game. Their one-point loss against the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs in the Elite Eight was a heartbreaking end to the team’s season, made especially upsetting by the controversial foul call that determined the game.
7. The Kansas State University (KSU) Wildcats
One can make a great argument that the Wildcats were the most entertaining team in this year’s tournament, mainly because of the amazing play of Bob Cousy Award winner Markquis Nowell. Before losing in the Elite Eight, KSU showed what they were made of with triumphs against established programs, the University of Kentucky Wildcats and Michigan State University Spartans. From being picked by many to finish last in the Big 12 to participating in the latter rounds of the NCAA Tournament, it was an admirable postseason for a team that definitely exceeded expectations this season.
ALLEY OOP TO BEAT THE BUZZER @KStateMBB pic.twitter.com/7EOkw0D3td
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 19, 2023
6. The Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Knights
FDU completed the second-ever upset of a one seed by a 16 seed when the Knights shocked the Purdue University Boilermakers. Despite being the shortest team in NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball, FDU annoyed and worked to contain the 7 foot 4 inch Naismith College Player of the Year, Zach Edey, preventing him from completely ruling the game. FDU fell to the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Owls in the following round; nonetheless, defeating Purdue grants FDU a spot on this list.
(16) FDU UPSETS (1) PURDUE 😱😱😱
MARCH. KEEPS. ON. GIVING. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/4T0K3n13Er
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 18, 2023
5. The Miami Hurricanes
To reach the Final Four, Miami defeated the one and two seeds in their region, the University of Houston Cougars and Texas. With these wins and the title of Atlantic Coast Conference regular season champions, I think it is safe to say the Hurricanes were underseeded. In the tournament, they showcased to the selection committee their pure offensive talent, scoring upwards of 80 points in three straight games against higher-seeded teams.
4. The SDSU Aztecs
Not only did SDSU make the final, but they also got through the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament en route to doing so. The Aztecs dismissed the University of Alabama Crimson Tide from the NCAA Tournament with an outstanding defensive performance, holding Brandon Miller and company, who averaged 81.2 points per game, to only 64 points. SDSU frustrated their opponents many times throughout the tournament, an aspect of their defensive identity that can be credited for much of their run in March Madness.
3. The Princeton University Tigers
Princeton, a 15 seed, beat the University of Arizona Wildcats in the Round of 64, surprising all and breaking the hearts of many bracket-creators. The Ivy League tournament champions followed this up by defeating another Power Five team, the University of Missouri Tigers. These victories marked the third straight year that a 15 seed has made the Sweet 16 and the sixth time ever an Ivy League school has reached that stage. Princeton, to say the least, made some history in this year’s tournament.
"ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!"
Blake Peters is FIRED UP as Princeton advances to the Sweet 16! #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/CvxvH2MT0h
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 19, 2023
2. The FAU Owls
Many have considered FAU the Cinderella team of this tournament, as they represented the East Region in the Final Four. To get there, the Owls prevailed over the University of Memphis Tigers, FDU, the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and KSU. FAU, who had an advantage in terms of their depth, truly worked together to wear down their opponents. Every one of their March Madness games was compelling and came down to the wire. Their largest win was by only 8 points, and their journey ended on a buzzer-beater by SDSU in a game they led by 14 points. FAU really showed what mid-major teams are capable of and that the Owls are here to stay.
1. The UConn Huskies
Behind Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament Adama Sanogo and All-Tournament guards, Jordan Hawkins and Tristen Newton, UConn was untouchable throughout the “Big Dance.” The Huskies finished its dominant NCAA Tournament by winning its fifth national championship in school history. In their six March Madness games, the team’s average margin of victory was 20 points, commandingly defeating multiple teams on this list on their way to the promised land. The four seed won all their tournament games by double digits, becoming the fifth team to ever accomplish this on a national championship run; the other four all-time teams to do this were one seeds. This year’s Huskies have eclipsed the term “impressive.”
UConn won every game of the tournament by DOUBLE DIGITS 💰 pic.twitter.com/Hb1DIPI91v
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 4, 2023
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