Pickswise's College Basketball Experts Give Their 2023 NCAA Tournament Winner Picks & Best Bets
Ladies and gentlemen, let the madness begin! March Madness is finally upon us, and the NCAA Tournament will soon get underway. 68 teams will begin, but in a couple of weeks just 1 team will be left standing and be crowned champions. But who will it be? Here at Pickswise, we’ve spoken to our sharpest college basketball handicappers to get their picks for who wins the NCAA Tournament. That’s 5 March Madness best bets, all in 1 place! Let’s dive into our experts’ March Madness winner picks, with odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
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Caleb Wilfinger’s March Madness winner pick: Houston Cougars (+500)
Ultimately, I have to stick to my guns when it comes to my national championship pick. Houston has been the best team in the nation all season and the Cougars should be getting Marcus Sasser back in the lineup by Round 2 at the latest. This is a team that has a fairly stress-free path to the Elite Eight considering the strengths of the teams they’d be in line to play. The toughest potential matchup en route to the Final Four would come in the Elite 8 against Texas, but I’d still favor the Cougars’ experience, guard play and coaching in what would be their third straight Elite Eight appearance. And once you get to the Final Four, anything can happen.
Due to their loss against Memphis, the Cougars aren’t quite being as appreciated as they should be by the general public. This is still a Houston team that has come up just short in each of the past 2 seasons, so I like this veteran group to get over the hump and win the national title in their home city.
Check out our full March Madness 68-team guide
Matt Marquart’s March Madness winner pick: Houston Cougars (+500)
I’m going to be lame and pick the favorite, Houston, to win the National Championship. There are a handful of teams I could see cutting down the nets this year, but I feel the most confident in Houston at least reaching the Final Four based on their draw. Houston is one of the most balanced teams in the country, ranking 11th in KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency and 4th in adjusted defensive efficiency. They’ve reached the Final Four and the Elite Eight in the last two seasons, so the tournament experience is there.
I also don’t find their path too daunting, as there is potential to play a double-digit seed in theSweet 16. Kent State did compete well with Houston earlier this year, but I trust the Cougars would beat them should they meet. I see Houston eventually advancing to the Final Four and cutting down the nets in their hometown.
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Sam Avellone’s March Madness winner pick: Houston Cougars (+500)
I am going to be boring and take the favorite, but there is a lot to like about this Houston team. The Cougars have been one of the top defenses all year long, which is a staple of Kelvin Sampson’s system. Not only are they elite on the defensive side, but they are also very good on the offensive end with 3 veteran guards in Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead, and Tramon Mark — all of whom have experience in at least 1 of the last 2 NCAA Tournaments. The Cougars went at least to the Elite Eight in both of those tournaments, so this core of players will surely be extra motivated to get over the final hurdle and cut down the nets as champions.
While they are not great from the 3-point line, they have a top 5 offensive rebounding rate in the country and will be able to earn second-chance opportunities because of it — which will be huge in the later rounds when extra possessions are so critical. No team over 10/1 has won the NCAA Tournament since Villanova in 2016, and a #1 seed has won 12 of the last 15 tournaments, so I feel confident taking one of the favorites despite the less-than-stellar payout. Houston has been one of the best and most consistent teams all season and would be a very deserving champion in my eyes.
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Ricky Dimon’s March Madness winner pick: UCLA Bruins (+1200)
If I’m filling out a bracket, in which odds are irrelevant, I’m probably selecting Houston as the national champion. However, the Cougars don’t have any value as a relatively sizable +500 favorite in an NCAA Tournament that is once again seemingly up for grabs amongst a whole host of contenders. The value is on UCLA at +1200.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell are still leading the way for the Bruins, just as they did en route to the Final Four 2 years ago (lost to Gonzaga in an instant classic). Head coach Mick Cronin is a proven winner, too, so this team has valuable experience both on the court and on the sideline. UCLA looks built for March, and it is already off to a strong start by reaching the final of a stacked Pac-12 Tournament and losing a thriller against fellow #2 seed Arizona.
We have March Madness Final Four best bets, including picks at +500 and +800
Robby Nardini’s March Madness winner pick: Kansas Jayhawks (+1200)
Selection Sunday is behind us and the best sporting event in the world will start up in Dayton on
Tuesday night. To no surprise, the Kansas Jayhawks got their name called on Selection Sunday
and received a number one seed. My prediction is that the Jayhawks will win back-to-back
championships and have excellent odds to win the NCAA Tournament at +1200. They have the best overall resume and the best coach in Bill Self out of everyone in the field of 68.
Kansas did not win the Big 12 Conference Championship, but they won the regular season title
and have the most quad-one wins in the country. They won 17 quad-one games this season
and have zero losses outside the first quadrant showing us that they played in the best
conference in the nation. It has previously been difficult for teams to win the NCAA title two
straight years, but this Kansas team has everything you need to make a deep run. Kansas has a
veteran point guard in DaJuan Harris Jr. and has player-of-the-year candidate Jalen Wilson
leading the way. Wilson is averaging 20.1 points and 8.4 rebounds this season and is good
enough to be the leader of a championship team. This team has been there before, so I like
Kansas to win the NCAA Tournament Championship once again this season.
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