2023 March Madness bracket facts for men’s NCAA tournament
The anticipation is over. We have a 2023 NCAA tournament bracket. Let March Madness officially commence.
There are many interesting storylines for this year’s men’s basketball tourney, one of which is the excitement around there being no clear favorite to cut down the nets, making an already unpredictable event feel even more difficult to get a read on. In addition, this is also the first NCAA tournament in 40 years without Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams on the sidelines!.
Since many of our fine ESPN college basketball analysts will be breaking down all the key matchups and making their picks in the days to come, this column is designed to occupy a different lane, one based only on historical facts.
There are so many fun nuggets to discuss — about seeds, conference success (or lack thereof) and notable trends for specific schools and coaches in the 2023 tourney. In honor of the number of teams in the field, we will narrow it down to 68 of our favorites below, with additional information and context provided for each as it pertains to this year’s bracket.
Just to be clear, this column is not intended to be predictive. That said, as you fill out your ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets — you can submit as many as 25 of them — decide whether any of the facts below speak to you and make you lean in a particular direction. At the very least, hopefully you will find something interesting to discuss while you watch the Big Dance with your family and/or friends.
NOTE: All stats referenced are since 1985 (also called the “modern era” throughout the column), unless otherwise noted. Additionally, any historical reference to the “first round” relates to the round of 64, and “second round” to the round of 32. The First Four stands on its own to avoid confusion. In addition, all results mentioned ignore any subsequent vacating. For example, we consider Louisville the winner of the 2013 national championship game, even though its appearance has been vacated by the NCAA.
First Four/Early Rounds
1. In 10 of the 11 tournaments the First Four has existed, at least one of its at-large participants has advanced to the second round.
• Two have advanced to the Final Four (UCLA in 2021 and VCU in 2011)
• Three others reached the Sweet 16
• This year’s First Four at-large teams are Mississippi State, Pittsburgh, Arizona State and Nevada
2. At least one top-4 seed has lost in the first round in 13 of the past 14 tournaments (32 of 37 overall).
• Last year, No. 2 seed Kentucky was the only victim when it was upset by Saint Peter’s