THE MADNESS IS HERE

2023-03-08 · 3 min read · March Madness/Basketball
UCLA Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Arizona guard Pelle Larsson

Getty Images | Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press

March Madness is finally upon us once again, and though a lot still has to be decided in the Conference Championships this weekend before selection Sunday, it's become pretty clear who has a real shot, and who could be a Cinderella candidate as we move towards the tournament.

So, if you're planning on entering Sports Tree’s 2023 March Madness Bracket Challenge presented by Highland GM, here are a couple teams to watch out for when making your picks.
UCLA Bruins (#2 in AP Top 25)
I really could be highlighting any of the top four ranked teams.Houston has been dominant on both sides of the ball, ranking 3rd in the nation in both offensive and defensive rating. Then there’s Alabama, who despite their recent off-court drama (which I won't be getting into), still possess NBA level talent in the form of forward Brandon Miller.
But I went with UCLA here because of a combination of things, really: their defensive prowess, depth and guard play, which are all great attributes to have in the tournament.UCLA ranks 4th in defensive rating, and top 30 in steals.They just lost their best defensive wing in Jaylen Clark, which is a concern, but this team has been able to withstand injuries all season thanks to their aforementioned depth. With Clark’s absence, more minutes will be available for talented reserves Dylan Andrews and Will McClendon to fill that void.
The Bruins aren’t the best offensive team around, but they are led by a trustworthy guard in Jaime Jaques, whose averages of 17.5 ppg and 8.0 rpg lead the team in both categories.
UCLA has a fan base that travels, and though they might not be the sexy pick, to me they’re the best equipped to make a serious run out of the major contenders.
Texas Longhorns (#7 in AP Top 25)
Texas is riding high after once again a dominant showing against#3 ranked Kansas in their final game of the regular season after initially beating them a few weeks prior.They seem to be on a collision course to face them once again in the Big 12 Tournament finals this weekend.This is a confident basketball team right now.
Texas’ offense this year is run by committee, not relying on one elite scorer, but instead spreading the worth around to all five starters.They rank 30th in points per game and 15th in assists.Throw in a tough defense and a front court with good size, and this is a team that could do some real damage.
One other thing to keep in mind; as I said, they seem to have Kansas’ number this season, and if they beat them again to win the Big 12 tournament, it would almost guarantee the Longhorns a #1 seed, which would drastically improve their outlook.
Connecticut Huskies (#11 in AP Top 25)
UConn basketball is back, baby.The Huskies have their best team since the Shabazz Napier days, and are one of the most fun teams to watch in the nation.How do they do it? One word.Offense.UConn ranks 29th in ppg,7th in asts, 8th in offensive rating, 38th in 3FG% and 4th in offensive rebounds.
They have five players shooting over 36% from three, led by forward Adama Sanogo and guard Jordan Hawkins who each average over 16 ppg.
This is arguably the most complete offense in the country, and they have a top 25 defence to boot.Watch out for the Huskies this year.
Duke Blue Devils (#21 in AP Top 25)
Don't look now, but after a miserable first half of the season, Duke has cracked the top 25 for the first time all year, and has won 6 straight games heading into the ACC tournament.It's been a tough season for former 5-star recruit freshmen forward Tariq Whitehead (who was projected to be a first round lottery pick) and fellow freshmen guard Tyrese Proctor.
But both have been trending upwards lately, and a good showing in the ACC tourney could be what they need to regain their confidence.
Duke is very young with five freshmen in their top eight rotation, but sometimes that can bode well for tournament runs.The Devils certainly have the high-end talent to do some damage and seem to be peaking at the right time.
Once again, make sure to make all your March Madness picks using the Sports Tree 2023 March Madness Bracket Challenge, which will be live this Sunday,
This contest is sponsored by Highland Automotive Professionals on Young Street in Aurora - the experience you deserve.
Give Cadillac Jack a call at 647-966-0060 or visit www.highlandcadillac.ca
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband

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