The 2023 NCAA Tournament field of 68 teams was revealed on Sunday evening, and while there weren’t many surprises with the No. 1 seeds, where they were placed was a bit surprising. The overall No. 1 seed, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will head South.
The No. 2 overall seed Houston, was placed in the Midwest. Kansas which had 17 Quad 1 wins, the most in college basketball, and the No.1 ranked strength of schedule was shipped out West.
And Purdue with Naismith Player of the Year favorite Zach Edey rounded out the No. 1 seeds by going East. In the end the selection committee got the four top seeds correct, and now we’re here to tell you about the five best players that could define “March Madness.”
Zach Edey — Purdue, Center
The 7-foot-4 matchup problem went for 30 points, and 13 rebounds in leading the the Boilermakers to the Big Ten Tournament title. Edey was named tourney MVP, after being named conference player of the year. For the season he averaged 22 points, 13 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game on 62 percent shooting from the field and nearly 73 percent from the charity stripe.
Edey’s mere presence will be a a tough matchup for opposing teams, and his teammates depend on him being double-teamed to get open looks from the perimeter.
How far can Edey take head coach Matt Painter’s tough, hard-nosed squad? The folks in West Lafayette, Indiana, hope it’s to Houston, and the Final Four.
Jalen Wilson — Kansas, Forward
One season after helping Kansas cut down the nets in New Orleans, Wilson returned to a team that lost 70 percent of its scoring output, one that was expected to take a step back. That wasn’t the case as he went out and won Big 12 player of the year, leading the Jayhawks to another outright conference title, and a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. He’s also a semifinalist for the Naismith Player of the Year, Bill Self’s team goes as the veteran Wilson goes.
Wilson came back to work on his shooting and to hopefully become a first-round NBA pick. While the shooting is still up and down, the intangibles are off the charts.
Season averages of 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game set the pace for the Jayhawks.
Brandon Miller — Alabama, Wing
Arguably the most talented player in college basketball this season, Miller is the straw that stirs th drink in Tuscaloosa. The true freshman took home SEC player of the Year and SEC Tourney MVP in Nashville for the Crimson Tide. Miller, who’s been a central figure in the Jamea Harris killing which involved former teammate Darius Miles, put on in his home state of Tennessee, just 20 miles from where he grew up. After being named tourney MVP, the 6-foot-9 Paul George clone was ecstatic in his postgame comments.
“It means a lot, just to have my family come just five minutes down the road to watch me play,” Miller said after the game. “I saw friends and mom my high school coach was here. That’s probably the best thing. But the fun part was just really going out here and getting a win with my guys in the SEC Championship.”
This season Miller averaged nearly 20 points, eight rebounds, and two assists while shooting 45 percent from the field and over 40 percent from three.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. — UCLA, Forward
Each year Jaquez has gotten better. The rugged stretch 4 has led the Bruins all season. Known as a fierce defender, Jaquez has really improved his shooting and rebounding during his time under head coach Mick Cronin. Having increased his scoring average by nearly four points from 14 to 18, and his rebounding from just over five to eight, it bodes well for the Bruins to make another run like they did in 2021, when they nearly knocked off national runner-up Gonzaga in the Final Four.
Although the Bruins came up just a tad bit short of winning the Pac-12 tourney after winning the regular-season title, Jaquez was named player of the year in the conference. Now he’s focused on making another run in the West bracket as the No. 2 seed.
Drew Timme — Gonzaga, Forward
The elder statesman of the bunch, Timme, who’s only 22 years old, seems like he’s been around for ten years. In the past the Zags have had teams predicted to win it all and have come up short, but this year they’re not the favorite, which makes them even more dangerous, with less expectations. Led by Timme’s cerebral play and veteran leadership, the Zags could make a run in this tournament.
If they want to, Timme will need to be at his very best. After earning his second consecutive WCC Player of the Year Award, the big Texan is set to become one of the few three-time All-Americans.
Timme has always been one of the most efficient players in college basketball. This season he’s shooting right around 63 percent from the field while averaging 21 points and eight rebounds per game in this, his final season in Spokane.