Favorites, Underdogs to Back in March Madness

John’s Picks


Men: Kansas

Kansas is a certified blue-blood men’s college basketball program. It might not be the most creative move to pick the Jayhawks to have tournament success in the year after they won March Madness, but they are poised for another run. Led by forward Jalen Wilson and guard Gradey Dick, Kansas finished in first place in the best conference in men’s basketball — the Big 12 — and had multiple wins over ranked teams. Most of its trouble this season has come on the road, so it should be able to excel in neutral tournament arenas where Kansas fans will show up in droves. Back Bill Self’s squad to win a second NCAA championship in just as many years. 

Women: South Carolina

Dawn Staley’s squad has been the definition of unstoppable this season. After an NCAA championship in 2022, the South Carolina Gamecocks ran the table in the regular season and Southeastern Conference tournament, compiling a record of 32––0. South Carolina is led by senior forward Aliyah Boston, who nearly averages a double-double with 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Senior guard Zia Cooke, averages 15.3 points per game, and, alongside Boston, she will bring a ton of NCAA tournament experience. Expect South Carolina to complete its perfect season. 


Women: UNLV

The UNLV Rebels are 31–2, have won 22 straight games, but just broke into the Associated Press Top 25 last month. They’ve gone undefeated in the Mountain West Conference, which is not particularly strong, but the team proved it can take care of business and won the MWC Tournament last weekend. UNLV has a lot to prove, with no wins over ranked teams this season but the Rebels will have opportunities to make a name for themselves in the tournament. Expect Las Vegas native Desi-Rae Young, who averages 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, to be an X-factor this March. 

Men: Memphis

The Memphis Tigers — coached by former NBA star Penny Hardaway — have never been ranked this season. Despite that, they still finished second in the American Athletic Conference and posted a solid 23–8 record on the year. Memphis hasn’t lost by more than eight points all season and came within one basket from beating Houston and Alabama who are ranked No. #1 and No. #4 in the AP rankings. It has yet to actually pull off a huge win this year, but don’t be surprised if Memphis gives top teams some trouble in the tournament. 

Kayla’s Picks


Women: Iowa

Not to state the obvious, but Caitlin Clark is a force to be reckoned with. Memorable moments throughout the season included a three-point buzzer-beater against Indiana and the Big Ten Championship against Ohio State, where the two-time Big Ten player of the year scored or assisted 68 out of the 105 points made in the game. Another important player is Monika Czinano, who set a field goal percentage record in the Big Ten and is ranked 2nd all time for scoring in program history.  Iowa is currently projected to be the No. 1 seed, and although it had a frustrating loss to Creighton University in the second round last year, the Hawkeyes are bound to shake things up. 

Men: UCLA 

Although Jaylen Clark, one of the top defenders in the country, is out with a leg injury, the UCLA Bruins still have potential to go far throughout the tournament. After all, they’ve gone to the Sweet 16 and the Final Four in the past two years. The team still has players such as senior Jaime Jaquez Jr, and freshman Adem Bona, who is the first UCLA player to earn Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. If Mick Cronin strategizes effectively, then they’re going to go far. 


Men: Northwestern 

After five consecutive years of finishing below .500, Northwestern is coming off of one of its most dominant seasons yet. Primarily thanks to their defense, the Wildcats are now the third-ranked team in the Big Ten, the best in program history, and broke their 0–18 losing streak against AP No.1 teams with a win against Purdue. Additionally, for his efforts in rebuilding the program, Head Coach Chris Collins was selected as Big Ten Coach of the year. If selected, the Wildcats could make it even further into the tournament than their historic 2017 March Madness run. 

Women: Washington State

Seventh-seedWashington State University won the Pac-12 Championships, a league ruled by Stanford University, for the first time in program history, upsetting teams such as No. 5-seed UCLA, No. 2-seed Utah, and No. 3-seed Colorado. Key contributors include Charlisse Leger-Walker, who was named the tournament’s MVP thanks to 23 points and seven rebounds made, Bella Murekatete, who scored 21 points and made four rebounds, and Head Coach Kamie Ethridge, a former All-American at Texas who transformed the program from a 9–21 finish her first year to two back-to-back appearances in March Madness. This time, the Cougars could make it past the first round.