CBB Review has you covered in trying to figure out who to root for in the 2023 March Madness Sweet 16.
The excitement of the first week of March Madness has subsided. Furman and Fairleigh Dickinson will forever live in tournament history. However, 16 teams are also looking for their own shining moment, with only four left for that opportunity by the time we reach this Sunday. If your favorite team’s season is over, we’ve got you covered at CBB Review! Here’s you should (or shouldn’t) jump on the bandwagon for over the next few days.
16. UCLA Bruins
UCLA’s storied history is no surprise. The success the program saw under John Wooden is unparalleled in the college basketball history books. That alone makes it difficult to make an argument in favor of the Bruins. However, it is fair to recognize the remarkable job Mick Cronin has done in vaulting UCLA back into the national conversation. Hop on at this station if you like blue blood tradition and the return of a national powerhouse.
15. UConn Huskies
Connecticut enters the Sweet 16 as the program with the second most national titles remaining in the field. The Huskies are searching for their 5th title in school history, with their last occurring during their bizarre time in the AAC. Dan Hurley has this program moving back towards the success it found with Jim Calhoun at the helm. If you’re looking to root for a team that looked like a national title contender at some point this season, UConn is for you.
14. Michigan State Spartans
It’s March, and Tom Izzo has Michigan State playing in the second weekend once more. At this point, why would anyone continue to doubt his ability to put a competitive team on the court in the NCAA Tournament? Who knows how many seasons Izzo has left in him, but taking this team to the promised land this season would be one of his biggest accomplishments. If you want the Big Ten to end its national title drought (22 seasons and counting), roll with the Spartans.
13. Arkansas Razorbacks
College basketball historians will recall that Arkansas is searching for its second national title in school history. However, this is the most excitement surrounding the program since they captured the 1994 national championship. Eric Musselman has cemented himself as one of the best coaches in the SEC quickly. The Razorbacks haven’t really been fully healthy until now, so their seed is a bit misleading. Looking to root for a team getting hot at the right time? Arkansas’ train whistle calls to you.
12. Texas Longhorns
For all the success Texas professes, the Longhorns haven’t been to the Final Four in 20 years, and have never won a national title. Perhaps this season’s team is in the best position yet to change that narrative. What the Longhorns have endured this season is well-documented, but Rodney Terry has kept this team even-keeled and has certainly done enough to get the interim tag removed at the end of the season. Rooting for Terry’s continued success would be a great reason to root for Texas.
11. Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State quite frankly wasn’t supposed to be here at this point in the season. Nobody saw the Wildcats succeeding like this in 2022-23, but Jerome Tang’s first year leading the program has been revelational. The Wildcats have been to the Final Four, but it’s been almost 60 years since that appearance. Also, K-State has Keyontae Johnson and his amazing story of returning to the court after collapsing a few seasons ago. Those storylines provide strong reasons to get behind the Wildcats.
10. Xavier Musketeers
Xavier is the first program to appear on our list that hasn’t made a Final Four appearance. The Musketeers had underachieved by many experts’ standards the past few seasons, so the school brought Sean Miller back, and it’s like he picked up where he left off after his first stint. The Big East is a better league when Xavier is successful. If you’re a fan of sequels, then Sean Miller’s with the Musketeers can be your rallying cry.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide
“But, how can the top overall seed not be lower on this list?” is what many of you are probably screaming. For starters, Alabama has never been to the Final Four, and it’s still a school that will most likely not be shedding status as a “football first” school for the foreseeable future. The Crimson Tide have been the best team in the nation for at least the past two months. If you’re a believer in the best team finishing with the crown, then look no further than Alabama’s train station.
8. Tennessee Volunteers
Similarly to Texas, Tennessee is a program that can claim rich tradition but lacks the deep runs to back it up. The Volunteers have surprisingly never been to the Final Four, and have only made it past the Sweet 16 once in its history. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t think Tennessee would be here today because of key injuries. So, if you want to root for a team based on the adversity they’re facing, the Vols are the squad for you.
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Mark Few is one of the best active coaches in the country that has yet to win a national title. The consistency of the Zags program is unheralded over the past few decades, but they are missing the final piece to cement their dynasty. This certainly isn’t the best or most talented team Few has had, but he knows how to coach his teams to the best of their ability. If you are looking to get behind a team with a coach who’s deserving of finally raising the trophy, support Gonzaga.
6. Creighton Bluejays
Creighton is a program that many current mid-major programs can aspire to be like. The Bluejays are currently in the midst of their 10th Big East season and have made the NCAA Tournament for six of those seasons. This feels like a program that is on the verge of finally breaking into heights not seen before in Omaha. The Sweet 16 has been a wall for this program in the past. If you want to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s been underrated for most of the season, Creighton should be your choice.
5. Miami (Fla) Hurricanes
Miami actually fell a few spots from last year’s rankings, but that’s what happens when you start to sustain success. The Hurricanes are looking to make their second straight Elite Eight appearance after making none for the entirety of its program before last season. Miami got healthy at the right time and look downright dangerous. The ACC’s best team is also the ACC’s last hope at a title this season. Become a Miami fan if you like underdog stories from power conference leagues.
4. Houston Cougars
This has to be the season for Kelvin Sampson, right? This is arguably his best team yet since he’s been at Houston. Marcus Sasser is an All-American, while Jarace Walker has been one of the best freshmen in the nation. The Cougars have had talented teams in the past that haven’t been able to finish the job. If you want to root for a team that has a chance to bury its snakebit past, then Houston is who you should support.
3. San Diego State Aztecs
In most seasons, San Diego State would most likely sit atop a rankings list like this. However, as one of the best mid-majors in the country this season and over the past decade, success is the expectation in Southern California. The fact remains, though, that SDSU has not been beyond this round ever. The Aztecs bring one of the best defenses in the nation into the Sweet 16. If you are looking to pull for a team that wins ugly, jump aboard with San Diego State.
2. Florida Atlantic Owls
If you hadn’t heard of Florida Atlantic before the NCAA Tournament, you were doing yourself a disservice. The Owls were one of the most fun teams to watch this season, and they are putting their school on the map in the process. FAU is shattering school records (and also shattered Cinderella by knocking out 16-seed FDU in the Round of 32). Dusty May is a serious national coach of the year candidate. If you want to root for a team that plays fun basketball and whose ascension to a championship would be unprecedented, get behind the Owls.
1. Princeton Tigers
At the end of the day, Princeton steals the show when it comes to the easy choice to root for. The Tigers are the third-straight 15-seed to reach the Sweet 16, and could be the second in a row to reach the Elite Eight with one more win. Cinderella may have been splitting her time between a few teams after the first round, but she’s firmly embracing the Tigers for the rest of their time in the tournament. If you want to root for a team that embodies the spirit of March Madness, pick Princeton.