Chris Havlicek’s 2023 March Madness Champion Picks

By Chris Havlicek

Parity in sports is something that happens fairly infrequently, especially in college basketball. In the absence of a Super-Team or Super-Teams, all sports and leagues become more unpredictable. This is certainly the case with college basketball this year. Parity is the name of the game and the transfer portal has introduced a new level of unpredictability.

As March Madness begins with the smaller conference tournaments, these are the teams I think have a legitimate shot at cutting down the nets in Houston.

Houston Cougars (+650)

The Final Four is being held in Houston, which is presently the betting favorite to win the NCAA championship. Balance is important since, according to, the national champion ranked top 22 in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency over the previous five years. In all categories, the Cougars are in the top 10 so they have that in their favor. They are a physical, elite defense that makes opponents feel every possession. They have high-level playmakers and scorers on offense in Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead, Jarace Walker, and others. The Cougars made it to the Final Four the year before and the Elite 8 last year. Guards and background matter during March.

Kansas (+1800)

Since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007, no one has won the national championship twice. This Kansas club has demonstrated its capability. No other team in the nation has more wins than the Jayhawks’ 14, who have 14 in the Quad 1.

Without Edey, Jalen Wilson would have won the Wooden Award, and his supporting cast has improved. When he plays aggressively on offense, Dajuan Harris Jr., Gradey Dick, and Kevin Mccullar all contribute significantly to the success of the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks might once again dominate the field thanks to all of that, Bill Self, and their previous championship experience.

Purdue  (+1200)

The Boilermakers’ initial excitement has faded as a result of their struggles in the final stretch. They still have Zach Edey, who is extremely challenging to defend and is expected to win the Wooden Award. Foster Loyer and Braden Smith, two freshmen guards, have been exposed, though. Although they are both good players, their youth and vulnerability to pressure can lead to mistakes and poor game management. The team as a whole is also fairly unathletic. Purdue may reach Houston, but may not be able to defeat the top teams there.

Alabama (+1000)

This seems almost heartless in light of the Brandon Miller issue, so I’ll keep it short and sweet. Miller seems likely to keep playing for the Tide right now. If so, they are one of my favorites to win the championship thanks to their strong offense, strong defense, and playmakers, especially Miller. The question is if the noise becomes too loud off the court, will it affect their play? I think it will, so that’s why I have them at No. 4. 

Indiana (+4000)

Indiana is the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of college basketball. They are a different team at home than they are on the road. That’s not unique to them, but their good is really good and their bad can be really bad. Trayce Jackson-Davis is a first-team All-American; Jalen Hood-Schifino is a star freshman, but has also been wildly inconsistent. Guard play wins in March and the Hoosiers may or may not have enough of it to win it all in March.

These picks will change weekly, but this is a good place to start. I can smell the Madness — can you?

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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