March Madness Recap Ahead of Final Four

By Mark Fordham
 |  4 mins
8E3DFB6F-93D4-478C-99D9-112C2BB6C04E  Fact Checked by Charlie Mullan
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March Madness Recap Ahead of Final Four

This year’s March Madness has delivered wild results in each round, making it almost impossible to be making accurate college basketball picks. Down to the Final Four, all the number one, two, and three seeds are out. Even though there’s a tradition of big upsets, this feels like a new benchmark for the tournament. 

On the one hand, it shows just how tight the competition is, but there is a tinge of disappointment that some of the bigger teams haven’t made it to the later stages. Let’s now recap all the regions and see who could be worth a wager with college basketball betting sites

South Recap

San Diego State Aztecs are this season’s South representatives. They knocked out tournament favorites Alabama in the Sweet 16; there isn’t much more they could do to prove themselves worthy of the Final Four. Alabama’s place at this stage looked like a formality after recording wins with over a 20-point margin in their first two rounds, but San Diego State had other ideas and fairly comfortably brushed the Crimson Tide aside. 

Along the way, they also got the better of Furman, who kickstarted the theme of this March Madness by knocking No. 4 seed Virginia out in the first round. Virginia, however, weren’t the only big team to bid the competition goodbye in the first round. No. 2 seed Arizona suffered the same fate at the hands of 15th-seeded Princeton, who got as far as the Sweet 16 before being knocked out by Creighton. 

Creighton and San Diego State’s Elite Eight match went right down to the wire; San Diego State won 57-56 in the end. The Aztecs are a burly side that like to slow down the place and get a bit physical. It looks like no one has been able to match their physicality so far. The Florida Atlantic Owls (FAU) have the difficult task of slowing them down in the Final Four and will start as slight underdogs with most US betting apps.

East Recap

The East was the most open region in the early rounds after Fairleigh Dickinson recorded one of the greatest upsets in the competition’s history by beating No. 1 seed Purdue in the first round. So much of the pre-tournament talk surrounded Purdue’s Zach Edey, the best player in the regular season and college basketball player prop must-have, but he was a mere footnote as far as March Madness was concerned. 

No. 2 seed Marquette were out in the second round as well, so it looked like an excellent chance for one of Kansas State or Tennessee to get to the Final Four, but even they failed. Both fell to Florida Atlantic Owls (FAU), the team with the best win-loss record in the tournament as we head into the semifinals. They’ve lost just three matches all season. Of course, they didn’t have the toughest of opponents in the regular season, but they’ve proven themselves in March Madness. 

They seem to have the pace and bench required to topple to San Diego State. It’ll be interesting to see if the matchup plays in their favor because it feels that way on paper. Of course, it’s important to remind ourselves that this tournament hasn’t followed what works on paper. 

Midwest Recap

No team has attained more significant scalps in this competition than the Midwest’s best: Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have sent No. 1 seed Houston, No. 2 seed Texas and No. 4 seed Indiana home. Of all the regions, this was the one that seemed to follow things on paper in the early rounds the most. Houston, who came into this tournament with some doubts about their standing, answered their critics in the first two rounds before falling to Miami. There was much criticism about Houston’s way after their exit, but this ignored just how capable a side Miami are. The story became about Miami after their win over Texas in the Elite Eight. 

Miami’s small-ball lineup has once again proved that size doesn’t matter in the playoffs. The big men get their numbers in the regular season but rarely turn up when it matters. Miami haven’t relied on any one player, which has been the secret to their success. Four of their players have averaged 13 points per game or more this season. 

It’s helpful to remind ourselves every now and then that this is a team game. Norchad Omier deserves special praise for his work on the boards this season; he has averaged 10.1 rebounds per game. Omier come into their Final Four contest as underdogs with most USA sports betting sites, but they are no strangers to that tag this tournament.

West Recap

Finally, we have the West, where one team has reigned supreme: UConn Huskies. The Huskies have won all their matches by a margin of 15 points or more, which is quite ridiculous. Their last win was an 82-54 thrashing of the highly rated Gonzaga Bulldogs. 

Gonzaga were coming off the back of a famous win over UCLA; they looked all set to win the West, but UConn had other ideas. UConn have made a mockery of the West’s status as the toughest region in the 2023 NCAA tournament and are now favorites to win it all with most sportsbooks.

The West didn’t have to too many surprises at the start. It even looked like No. 1 seed Kansas might become the first team to defend their title for 16 years, but that conversation feels archaic now. Kansas bowed out of the competition in the second round to Arkansas. 

Arkansas then faced UConn, who dismissed the former 88-65. UConn ended the season on a high and started the regular season on a roll with a 14-1 record, but they slipped under everyone’s radar. This is a complete side and the favorite to lift the championship for a reason.

They were devastating against Gonzaga – just a level above every other team in the competition. Miami and the others will have to be at their very best to stop them in this sort of form. 

Mark spent over a decade as a sports reporter and editor with and Bleacher Report. He is now a Content Editor at covering all manner of sports from the Premier League and cricket to the NBA and NFL.

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