2023 NCAA Tournament: Buzz Builds for March Madness Long Shots

2023 NCAA Tournament: Buzz Builds for March Madness Long Shots
Image © Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
✍️ Written by
Ty Bronicel
🗓 Updated
May 19th 2023

The 2022-2023 college basketball season tips off Monday, Nov. 7 and everyone already is eyeing March and the inevitable madness.

The 2023 NCAA Tournament looks fairly wide open as I discussed here, although I still really like two of the favorites to cut down the nets in Houston on Monday, April 3, 2023.

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OK, let’s get to it. The long shot (which I define as a team with 20-to-1 odds or higher) that I like the most to win it all is one whose bandwagon is starting to reach capacity, and that is …

Creighton (+2500)

Yeah, sure, the Bluejays have never made a Final Four (hell, they’ve been to the Elite Eight only once, back in 1941), but this looks like the most talented roster in the school’s history. Last year’s team was young and that showed in spells. Still, Creighton gave eventual national champion Kansas all it could handle in the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.

The Bluejays, historically an excellent 3-point shooting team, were inexplicably awful last year beyond the arc.

The addition of sharpshooter Baylor Scheierman, a standout transfer from South Dakota State, will help immensely.

Promising sophomore point guard Ryan Nembhard appears fully recovered from a wrist injury last February that required surgery and ended his season.

Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton’s starting 7-foot-1 center and the reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year, returns after a breakout season (13.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.6 blocks) as a sophomore.

TCU transfer Francisco Farabello will also help the Bluejays from downtown and sophomore Arthur Kaluma showed glimpses of stardom last season as a true freshman.

Greg McDermott, on many short lists as a leading candidate for Coach of the Year honors, has a squad that is projected to win the Big East (over a Jay Wright-less Villanova team), be a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the Big Dance and then make a deep tourney run.

Tennessee (+2500)

Here’s the biggest thing to know: Ken Pomeroy, the modern-day college hoops stats guru, whose KenPom.com is nationally revered, has the Volunteers at No. 4 overall in his preseason rankings. Tennessee, despite losing dynamo point guard Kennedy Chandler to the NBA, is ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll but is ahead of bigger names and bigger favorites North Carolina, Kansas, Houston, and Baylor.

The Vols return four of their top five scorers and four starters from last season’s team that won 27 games and the SEC Tournament, as well as five-star freshman Julian Phillips, who leads a top-20 recruiting class. Kentucky poses all kinds of problems as always in the competitive SEC (five teams are in the AP and KenPom top 20), but Tennessee looks like at least an Elite Eight team, and after that, anything can happen.

Bonus Bet: San Diego State (+1500) to make the Final Four

The Mountain West’s top team will be a tough out in the 2023 tournament. The Aztecs (19th AP/18th KenPom) bring back fifth-year senior Matt Bradley (16.9 points, 5.4 rebounds) who is the favorite to be named Conference Player of the Year.

SDSU returns 6-foot-10 Nathan Mensahas, the reigning Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. The Aztecs have high hopes for 6-foot-9 TCU transfer Jaedon LeDee, a former four-star recruit, as well as speedy guard Darrin Trammell, who is a transfer from Seattle U.

Lamont Butler, Keshad Johnson, Aguek Arop, and Adam Seiko are also back for a team that won 23 games and lost to Creighton (a school record No. 9 in AP poll/just 23rd in KenPom) in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Final Four is possible for San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher’s squad but is probably the team’s ceiling. Ya never know, though, and if you’re feeling particularly confident, you can take the Aztecs to win the whole damn thing at a whopping +6000.

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