Excitement is mounting in college basketball circles, with the start of the prestigious March Madness tournament now just under one month away.
The NCAA extravaganza always generates a ton of interest among sports bettors, and this year’s event looks guaranteed to keep the top sportsbook operators extremely busy.
The latest March Madness betting odds on this site list Houston as the +650 favourites to win the title, but several other teams have a genuine chance of emerging victorious.
They include Purdue and Alabama, who are both priced at +850 to get their hands on the prestigious trophy at the start of April.
With that in mind, read on as we look at the March Madness 2023 schedule and venues, before assessing some of the main title contenders.
March Madness 2023 Schedule
The 2023 March Madness bracket will be set on March 12, with the tournament getting underway two days later. Here is the schedule:
- Selection Sunday: March 12
- First Four: March 14-15
- First round: March 16-17
- Second round: March 18-19
- Sweet 16: March 23-24
- Elite Eight: March 25-26
- Final Four: April 1
- NCAA championship game: April 3
March Madness 2023 Venues
The first matches take place in Dayton, Ohio, on March 14/15. The Final Four tournament is staged in Houston, Texas, on April 1 & 3. Here are the details of the venues:
- March 14-15: First Four – Dayton, OH – UD Arena
- March 16 & 18: First/Second Rounds – Birmingham, AL – Legacy Arena
- March 16 & 18: First/Second Rounds – Des Moines, IA – Wells Fargo Arena
- March 16 & 18: First/Second Rounds – Orlando, FL – Amway Center
- March 16 & 18: First/Second Rounds – Sacramento, CA – Golden 1 Center
- March 17 & 19: First/Second Rounds – Albany, NY – MVP Arena
- March 17 & 19: First/Second Rounds – Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena
- March 17 & 19: First/Second Rounds – Denver, CO – Ball Arena
- March 17 & 19: First/Second Rounds- Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum
- March 23 & 25: West Regional – Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena
- March 23 & 25: East Regional – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden
- March 24 & 26: Midwest Regional – Kansas City, MO – T-Mobile Center
- March 24 & 26: South Regional Louisville, KY – KFC Yum! Center
- April 1 & 3: Final Four – Houston, TX – NRG Stadium
March Madness 2023 Preview
Houston have been widely tipped to make a deep run during March Madness and it would be no surprise to see them progress to the Final Four.
The Cougars reached that stage of the tournament two years ago, but were beaten 78-59 by the eventual winners Baylor Bears.
With this year’s Final Four set to be staged in Houston, Kelvin Sampson’s team will fancy their chances of success if they make it that far.
Jamal Shead and Marcus Sasser have the ability to unlock any team, while Houston’s solid defence gives them the chance to win on any given night.
However, only one team from the American Athletic Conference has previously won March Madness and Houston may find it tough to add their name to the roll of honour.
While Houston have yet to break their duck in this tournament, UCLA are striving to add another success to their haul of 11 titles.
They also progressed to the Final Four in 2021, but narrowly missed out on the championship game after losing 93-90 against Gonzaga.
While the current UCLA roster is functional rather than spectacular, that team-first ethic could stand them in good stead during March Madness.
They are adept at winning tight games and have the collective spirit that generally serves teams well during this tournament.
Their hopes of success will likely rest on the fitness of freshman Amari Bailey, who has found consistency hard to come by due to injuries.
Another potential March Madness winner is Creighton, who have bounced back to form following a sticky spell towards the end of last year.
However, they lack the depth of several other fancied teams and an injury to one of their top players would scupper their hopes of success.
Texas may emerge as contenders if they can address their issues with three-point shooting, while reigning champions Kansas should also not be underestimated.
However, going back-to-back has proven to be difficult in recent years and Bill Self’s team will likely come up short this time around.
From a betting perspective, the team which stands out as offering the best value is the rapidly improving Alabama.
Southeastern Conference teams have won Match Madness on 11 previous occasions – only the Atlantic Coast Conference (15) and Pac-12 Conference (15) have won more.
While that statistic will give Alabama plenty of hope, there is another major reason why they appeal as the value bet in this year’s tournament.
Their thrilling 71-65 victory in Houston during December demonstrated their title credentials and they have maintained their fine form since that result.
Houston’s record in the Fertitta Center before that defeat was a hugely impressive 66-4, highlighting the scale of Alabama’s achievement.
The Crimson Tide are famed for the speed of their offensive unit, while their defence is one of the best in the country.
They are adept at restricting teams to shooting from range, which maximises their chances of winning regardless of how their attack is performing.
Alabama are strong from the free-throw line, while their offensive rebounding ability puts many other NCAA teams to shame.
That latter point was perfectly demonstrated during the victory over Houston, with the Tide bagging 12 offensive rebounds during the game.
Having restricted Houston to just 65 points on their own patch during the regular season, Alabama would rightly believe they could repeat the trick if they meet again.
With a great blend of talent and experience coupled with players who know how to control the ball in tight games, Alabama are strongly fancied to at least make it through to the Final Four.