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Covers' Bracket Predictions: Expert March Madness Bracket Picks

Covers' bracket predictors have made their picks, and our official March Madness bracket predictions are ready to download.

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2023 5:15 PM ET Read Time: 4 min

There's nothing like March Madness. The 2023 NCAA Tournament starts this week, which means basketball fans and bettors are busy filling out their March Madness brackets.

Covers staff March Madness bracket predictions

Our bracket predictors are busy pouring over the matchups, March Madness odds, and making NCAA Tournament picks, so you don't have to. 

You can use our filled-in staff picks to identify which upsets to target, help decide between the matchups that appear to be a coin toss, and help shape your Final Four as you fill in our printable March Madness bracket for 2023. Or just copy it entirely and submit it to your bracket contest — just be sure to give us a shout-out when you win some money. 

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Jared Hochman's bracket

Winner: Texas

I've had it in my head for quite some time that "going with the best team in the Big 12 is the way to roll." So that’s what I’m doing… because I think Texas is the best team out of that conference. Despite overcoming many off-court distractions, the Longhorns are a Top-20 team on both ends of the court, play a physical game with a rotation that runs nine men deep, and are led by a trio of dynamite seniors. Texas checks the boxes required for a National Champion, so I’m throwin’ up the horns.

Rest of the bracket:

  • East No. 2 Marquette is hot, winning nine straight, are led by Big East Player of the Year Tyler Kolek, and this team has coach Shaka Smart’s fingerprints all over it.
  • Alabama’s road to the Final Four seems almost laughably easy in the South, as the Tide are, in my opinion, head and shoulders above the rest of the region.
  • Remember UConn? You know, that team that was getting “all-time great” kind of talk… then fell off a cliff midseason, and everybody wrote them off? Well, the Huskies are starting to look like the early-season Huskies again… just saying.

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Rohit Ponnaiya's bracket

Winner: Kansas

It might seem boring to pick a No. 1 seed and the defending champs as my team to win it all but Kansas has racked up an incredible 17 Quadrant 1 wins and has been grinding out victories in the toughest conference in the country. The Jayhawks are extremely efficient on both ends of the floor, boast a lineup loaded with experience, and have one of the best coaches around in Bill Self.

They're just as capable of thriving in a fast-paced transition game as they are at playing a half-court contest. That versatility and the ability to adapt to any situation makes them my pick, and being able to back them at +1,200 is good value.

Cinderella: Charleston

It seems like San Diego State is a staple of March Madness but hasn't made it past the first round during the Brian Dutcher era and should be on upset watch against No. 12 seed Charleston, a team that dominated the Colonial Athletic Association and is 13th in the country in defensive efficiency. The Cougars are also 18th in offensive efficiency, with all five starters averaging double digits in points.

In addition, they rank ninth in the country in 3-pointers per game (10.0), and if they heat up from beyond the arc, they could upset SDSU and possibly another struggling offensive team in Virginia in the following round.

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Jason Logan's bracket

Winner: Kansas

No program has gone back-to-back with national titles since Florida in 2006 and 2007, but the Jayhawks are loaded with pro-ready talent, have a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Self, tournament experience, and can win grinders and track meets alike. The Jayhawks aren’t without their foibles, which include a lack of depth and here-and-there 3-point shooting. But Kansas makes opponents work for everything on both ends of the floor, moving the ball for a high assist rate while sitting No. 7 in the all-holy KenPom defensive efficiency.

Cinderella: Duke

My bracket is pretty chalky, with no seed larger than a No. 5 advancing to the Elite Eight. And that No. 5 is Duke, which doesn’t exactly fit Cinderella’s slipper, considering the Blue Devils’ history in March. However, Jon Scheyer is coaching in Mike Krzyzewski’s shadow, and since Valentine’s Day, the Blue Devils have rolled off nine straight wins. Momentum can mean everything in March, and the Dukies have that, a surplus of talent and a defense digging in at the right time. So go ahead and cram Duke’s big ole Size 13 into that glass slipper.

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Ed Scimia's bracket

Winner: UCLA

I was torn between three teams when filling out my bracket, all of which reached my projected Final Four. Houston may be the best team in the country on paper, I can’t see them stringing together six wins against this field. Alabama have the overall No. 1 seed. However, they’ve lost two of their last nine, with two more wins in that span coming only in overtime. That leaves me to choose the UCLA Bruins as my champion this year. The Bruins were riding a 12-game winning streak before suffering a two-point loss to the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday. Defense wins championships and UCLA is the country's best defensive efficiency rating.

Cinderella: Utah State

The No. 10 seed in the South, the Utah State Aggies have slid under the radar but have the talent to give Arizona a battle in the second round and make a deep run if they can get by the Wildcats. If you’re looking for a potential tournament winner from a lower seed line, the UConn Huskies are among the best teams in the country despite being a No. 4 seed.

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JD Yonke's bracket

Winner: Houston 

Very brave of me to select the best team in the country to cut down nets, right? Houston has been analytically dominant this season, ranking first overall in KenPom while coming one spot shy (11th in adjusted offensive efficiency) from being a top-10 unit on both ends of the court. In a year of parity where there have been few dominant teams, Houston has been a notable exception, and that's enough for me to view them as a deserving favorite.

Cinderella: Drake

Drake is my Cinderella because they check off a few key qualifiers. The Bulldogs are among the oldest and most experienced teams in the nation, as the average age of their starting five is higher than a number of NBA teams. The difference is that they aren't tanking. They're hungry after playing at a very high level for a while now but getting a bid stolen from them by COVID in 2020 and falling just short in the MVC title game in 2021 and 2022. The Bulldogs looked like a team on a mission with a dominant 77-51 victory over Bradley in this year's MVC Tournament final. They're in fine form, having won 12 of their last 13 games.

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Chris Hatfield's bracket

Winner: Houston

Houston checks the metrics boxes. Over the last month, Houston has been playing like the 3rd best team in the country, according to BarTorvik. That’s before three prior months where they’ve spent most of the season at No. 1. They rank in the Top 25 of KenPom offensive and defensive efficiency – a highly touted and known metric for defining a national champ.

A potential Sweet 16 matchup with Indiana would see them match up very well against a team that I would define as a “red-flag team,” given they do nothing really well – they just do a lot of things well. Once they get to the Final Four, they’ll have the luxury of playing games in front of a very pro-Houston crowd, potentially opening against a UCLA team without its do-it-all man in Jaylen Clark.

Cinderella: Penn State

My bracket gives you more than one Cinderella team, but I want to focus on my favorite. That’s Penn State. Penn State’s unorthodox style of play makes them an extremely dangerous team in a tournament setting – particularly on a short turnaround. They can limit possessions and never get out of who they are. You saw that in the second-half comeback against Purdue.

Our process for NCAA Tournament picks & predictions

Want more smart tournament picks? Our March Madness picks hub details every tournament game, the best odds for the matchups, and links to analysis for every round. Our process will go like this. Our betting analysts — one for each region — make picks on every single game of the tournament. 

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