Predicting a Perfect March Madness Bracket

Using a dash of research and lots of imagination

Ryan Dickinson, Student Writer

Every year the Nation’s best college basketball teams compete for the chance to be crowned the NCAA Division I men’s college basketball national champion. Simultaneously, men and women of all shapes and sizes compete to create a flawless bracket predicting every victorious team until one team remains.

Welcome to March Madness.

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, known as March Madness, has been played since 1939. It is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, when, as hinted by its name, the final four teams compete for the chance to win it all.

A full schedule of games can be found on NCAA’s website.

The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are about 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 according to Daniel Wilco of That’s 9.2 quintillion. Before I attempt to fill out my ‘perfect’ bracket, I first do a little reading and research because my knowledge of college basketball is basically nonexistent.

Useful bracket information I absorbed in my research includes a few useful trends provided by Boyd’s Bets, which state that No. 1 seeds are 143-1 all-time in the first round, a No. 15 has knocked off a No. 2 just 9 times, and No. 11 seeds have a respectable 54-90 record against the No. 6 seed.

More practical information comes from SBNation stating that No. 5 seeds have made it to the title game three times but have never been able to be the last team standing. So, you’d be wise to avoid a No. 5 seed to win it all. SBNation also doesn’t want you to feel bad if you pick a No. 1 seed to win it all. There is no need to waste time searching for that ‘Cinderella Story’ team to win it all. A No. 1 seed has won each of the last four national titles, five of the last six, and seven of the last nine so the odds are in their favor.

Now that we’ve established that a perfect bracket is essentially impossible and I’ve absorbed as much college basketball expert information as I could, it’s time to give this bracket the old college try and present my method to the madness.

The South Region

First Round

No. 1 Alabama over No. 16 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

No. 9 West Virginia over No. 8 Maryland

No. 12 Charleston over No. 5 San Diego St.

No. 4 Virginia over No. 13 Furman

No. 6 Creighton over No. 11 North Carolina St.

No. 3 Baylor over No. 14 UC Santa Barbara

No. 10 Utah St. over No. 7 Missouri

No. 2 Arizona over No. 15 Princeton

Alabama is the top team in the tournament, and they aren’t losing any time soon. Brackets are all about upsets and choosing a team like Charleston that had a regular season record of 31-3 sounds like a pretty good team to me! Virginia won the tournament in 2019 with current head coach Tony Bennett so they’ve got the edge by a wide margin. Baylor is in the same boat as Virginia. They won in 2021 and not only have the same head coach but six players from the championship team still on the roster. Utah St. Aggies over the Missouri Tigers because when I Googled what an “aggie” is and saw that Texas A&M already has the same mascot, I figured Utah St. could hold the title of an honorary Texas college which equals a win in my book.

Second Round

No. 1 Alabama over No. 9 West Virginia

No. 4 Virginia over No. 12 Charleston

No. 6 Creighton over No. 3 Baylor

No. 2 Arizona over No. 10 Utah St.

I have Alabama in the Final Four and they can only get there with a victory over West Virginia. Virginia’s experience reigns supreme against a No. 12 seed. In the real world, bears (Baylor’s mascot) would dismantle bluejays (Creighton’s mascot) but not in my world, bluejays over bears, oh my. In a battle between the honorary aggies in Utah and the wildcats in Arizona, the wildcats get their head in the game and pull off the victory. Yes, that was a High School Musical reference and I’m not proud of it.

Sweet 16

No. 1 Alabama over No. 4 Virginia

No. 2 Arizona over No. 6 Creighton

South Region Winner: No.1 Alabama over No. 2 Arizona

Many experts have Alabama winning the entire tournament. After all, they are the No. 1 team for a reason. In the battle of the “A” states, the tide keeps on rolling past the competition and into the Final Four.

The East Region

First Round

No. 1 Purdue over No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson

No. 8 Memphis over No. 9 Florida Atlantic

No. 5 Duke over No. 12 Oral Roberts

No. 4 Tennessee over No. 13 Louisiana

No. 6 Kentucky over No. 11 Providence

No. 3 Kansas St. over No. 14 Montana St.

No. 10 USC over No. 7 Michigan St.

No. 2 Marquette over No. 15 Vermont

The No. 1 seed has only lost once to a No. 16 seed once and I don’t believe it’ll happen again in 2023, no matter how much I want to root for my last name. In my opinion, the No. 8 vs. the No. 9 seeds are the toughest matchups to predict with experts torn between the two more often than not. I chose Memphis over Florida Atlantic mainly because it’s Florida’s their first time in the NCAA tournament since 2002. Duke is known for college basketball championships, so I doubt they lose round one. As much as Ragin’ Cajuns scare me, they don’t scare me enough to choose a No. 13 seed over a No. 4 seed so it’s Tennessee over Louisiana. It’s cat against cat and I’m rooting for the wild cat over the cat named bob, Kansas St. Wildcats over the Montana State Bobcats. As much as I want to root for the Vermont Catamounts, Marquette is the heavy favorite. A catamount is basically a cougar or mountain lion, in case you were wondering.

Second Round

No. 1 Purdue over No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 Duke over No. 4 Tennessee

No. 6 Kentucky over No. 3 Kansas St.

No. 2 Marquette over No. 10 USC

Purdue is a No. 1 seed and Memphis is not. I do find it quite ironic that Purdue’s coach’s last name is Painter and their team colors are rather dull. Duke had a better regular season record and Tennessee is, unfortunately, dealing with an injured key player. I was overdue for an upset so Kentucky over Kansas St. it is. Many experts have Marquette in the Final Four and I think I’d like them to end up there too.

Sweet 16

No. 5 Duke over No. 1 Purdue

No. 2 Marquette over No. 6 Kentucky

East Region Winner: No. 2 Marquette over No. 5 Duke

Even though Duke probably has the advantage in multiple ways including experience, I think it’s time for someone else’s time to shine. The Marquette Golden Eagles move on to face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Final Four.

The Midwest Region

First Round

No. 1 Houston over No. 16 Northern Kentucky

No. 8 Iowa over No. 9 Auburn

No. 12 Drake over No. 5 Miami

No. 4 Indiana over No. 13 Kent St.

No. 6 Iowa St. over No. 11 Pittsburgh

No. 3 Xavier over No. 14 Kennesaw St.

No. 10 Penn St. over No. 7 Texas A&M

No. 2 Texas over No. 15 Colgate

Houston is the No. 1 seed and I already picked a Kentucky team to move onto the second round in the east region. Drake, the artist, holds a Guinness world record for the most streamed act on Spotify. Drake, the team, shares the same name so they must be terrific too, right? In actuality, Miami ruined my bracket by somehow making it to the Elite Eight last year so I have zero sympathy for giving them the first-round bounce this year, which many experts have already predicted. Kent St. over Indiana seems to be a popular upset pick based on Indiana’s maddening inconstancy. Choosing a No. 13 seed over a No. 4 seed seems like a bad idea to me so I’m sticking with Indiana even though it may come back to bite me. I don’t think the owls (Kennesaw St.) have nearly enough firepower to knock the musketeers (Xavier) out of the first round. Yet another matchup was decided by the team’s mascots. If you sense a pattern, you’d be right. Last but not least, Texas over toothpaste. Colgate is a college in New York and a toothpaste brand for all you Crest stans out there.

Second Round

No. 1 Houston over No. 8 Iowa

No. 12 Drake over No. 4 Indiana

No. 3 Xavier over No. 6 Iowa St.

No. 2 Texas over No. 10 Penn St.

The two remaining Texas teams will meet in the Elite Eight, at least in my bracket they will. The 12-seeded Drake’s improbable run continues as they defeat Indiana to move on to the Sweet 16. As much as I want to root for another underdog, I also don’t want to press my luck, Xavier moves on. As I stated in my first sentence, Texas will advance to the Elite Eight and in order to do so they must defeat Penn St.

Sweet 16

No. 1 Houston over No. 12 Drake

No. 2 Texas over No.3 Xavier

Midwest Region Winner: No. 1 Houston over No. 2 Texas

Call it destiny but it’s difficult to root against a team with the opportunity to win it all in their home city. In the battle of the Texas teams, Houston gets the win, rounds up the longhorns and drives them back to their ranch after a close, high-scoring courtside rodeo.

The West Region

First Round

No. 1 Kansas over No. 16 Howard

No. 8 Arkansas over No. 9 Illinois

No. 12 VCU over No. 5 Saint Mary’s

No. 4 UConn over No. 13 Iona

No. 6 TCU over No. 11 Arizona St.

No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 14 Grand Canyon

No. 7 Northwestern over No. 10 Boise St.

No. 2 UCLA over No. 15 UNC Asheville

See the stat way above in paragraph six regarding No. 1 seeds only losing once in the first round. As I’ve stated already, the No. 8 seeds up against the No. 9 seeds are basically a toss-up so I went with the state resting on the shoulder of Texas. VCU made the Final Four way back in 2011 and while it’s highly unlikely it’ll happen again; they have a chance to get one step closer to repeating history by first defeating Saint Mary’s. The other three-letter school advanced, VCU, so it’s only fair TCU advances as well. Yes, I know they are acronyms, and the schools aren’t just three letters. SBNations states that only two teams that have appeared in every single NCAA tournament without losing a single first-round game since 2008, Gonzaga and Kansas. Gonzaga defeats Grand Canyon. UCLA seems to be the favored pick to win the west region so I’m confident they’ll advance past the first round.

Second Round

No. 1 Kansas over No. 8 Arkansas

No. 4 UConn over No. 12 VCU

No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 6 TCU

No. 2 UCLA over No. 7 Northwestern

They are the No. 1 seed for a reason, and they aren’t about to lose to the state that copied their name and added an ‘A’ and an ‘R’ to it. The three-letter schools go down. UConn and Gonzaga are the higher seeds and have more tournament experience. UCLA is one of the favorites to win the west and to do so they need to move past the second round.

Sweet Sixteen

No. 4 UConn over No. 1 Kansas

No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 2 UCLA

West Region Winner: No. 3 Gonzaga over No. 4 UConn

UConn has one of my favorite mascots, a huskie. The west region was probably one of the most difficult regions to pull a winner from because almost every expert whose bracket I glanced at had a different west region conqueror. Gonzaga wins solely based on tournament experience.

Final Four

No. 1 Alabama over No. 2 Marquette

No. 1 Houston over No. 3 Gonzaga

National Champions: The Alabama Crimson Tide over the Houston Cougars

As much incredible as it would be to see Houston cut down the nets in their own city, I believe Alabama remains perfect and cuts them down instead.

However, I’ve never been so excited to be wrong.

Check out my completed March Madness bracket below.

Ryan Dickinson