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    No thumb in Storrs, Connecticut, will ever go cold again. For the fifth time in program history, the UConn Huskies are the champs of men’s college basketball.

    All is spoken for the 2022-23 campaign. With all stones turned, it’s time to review the rodeo from the very beginning, dating all the way to the before times, when anything could happen and everyone was undefeated with a beautiful 0-0 record. Even Louisville started the season without a single loss!

    UConn Caps 2023 as Champs

    Preseason: Pretenders & Contenders

    Ah, October – when champions are anointed, recruiting classes are heralded, and every team will probably make the tournament. All is well before reality hits.

    This preseason, it was North Carolina who took the most plaudits as the No. 1 team in the AP and Coaches Poll. Returning most of the same players who were national runners-up in 2022, the Tar Heels were primed for a historic and memorable year, though not in the way they intended.

    Otherwise, it was some of the other usual suspects from recent years who occupied the upper echelon of expectations: Gonzaga, Houston, Kentucky, Kansas, and Baylor rounded out the rest of the AP’s top six. Duke had the nation’s best incoming class, according to 247Sports, with three of the four highest-rated recruits in the country committed to first-year head coach Jon Scheyer.

    Carolina wasn’t the only preseason-ranked team to later miss the NCAA Tournament. Villanova began the year at No. 16 in the AP Poll but finished with a .500 record. Oregon, Michigan, Dayton, and Texas Tech were four of the five final teams named in the preseason poll, but none of them danced. Also, even with little expectations, Louisville dug deep below the planet’s surface to kick off the campaign 0-9, including home defeats to Bellarmine, Wright State, and Appalachian State. The Cardinals eventually reached the earth’s core on their seemingly unsatisfied mission searching for rock bottom.

    November & December: The Non-Conference (with Some Conference)

    The first two months of the college basketball season are for fun tournaments, forming the foundations of March Madness resumes, and watching Gonzaga before it’s banished to play Pepperdine on ESPN News at 12 a.m.

    On New Year’s Eve, eventual-champs UConn took its first L of the campaign, 83-73 at Xavier, and only two undefeated teams remained going into 2023: Purdue and New Mexico. If you were wondering what happened in Albuquerque next, perhaps knowing that the Lobos will not again be mentioned in this article gives you that answer.

    North Carolina began its descent to postseason purgatory in late November and was 5-4 after losing at Virginia Tech on Dec. 4, but that was nowhere near the biggest fall from grace that month. On Dec. 12, police arrested then-Longhorns head coach Chris Beard for allegedly strangling his fiancée. Beard was fired a few weeks later, a swift deletion to his time at Texas.

    January: Purdue Power & UConn Sour

    After a one-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 2, Purdue cruised through the rest of January. The Boilermakers beat the likes of Ohio State (back when it was still ranked), Penn State, Maryland, Michigan, and Michigan State twice as they solidified themselves atop the AP Poll and Big Ten standings. Meanwhile, Zach Edey scored, rebounded, and blocked his way to the front of the National Player of the Year conversation, an award he would sweep weeks later.

    On the other hand, Connecticut tanked. The Huskies were 14-0 before the Xavier-sized blemish, but after six losses in their next eight games, they were 16-6 with a losing record in the Big East come Jan. 25. UConn did not look like the national champs.

    Meanwhile, Kansas also suffered setbacks, dropping three-straight contests to Kansas State, TCU, and Baylor in the middle of the month, while Kentucky entered a roller coaster of high-end wins and low-level losses, of which Big Blue Nation vocally disapproved.

    The other major news from January was Alabama player Darius Miles’s arrest on capital murder charges for the death of Jamea Jonae Harris. Miles was dismissed from the team and is in jail without bond. Further controversy ensued from reports that Brandon Miller and Jaden Bradley were at the scene, with Miller transporting the gun there, and head coach Nate Oats’s statements in the aftermath.

    February: Carolina Blues

    This is when the wheels careened off the wagon and Carolina relegated itself to misery. The Tar Heels went 4-5 in February, including an insipid showing in Durham early in the month. The dysfunction within the program became more and more evident for all to see.

    Remember 0-9 Louisville? It didn’t seem like things could get much worse, but they did. It turned out that the two-game positive streak the Cardinals enjoyed against Western Kentucky and Florida A&M in mid-December was the team’s best run of the entire season. Unfortunately for Louisville, the NCAA doesn’t vacate losses – that 4-28 record is staying in the books, and a dog pooping on its court is one of its best plays of the year.

    The Big 12 was a gauntlet yet again, with almost half of the league ranked in the top-11 of the AP Poll by the end of February and nearly every team receiving serious consideration for a tournament bid. Kansas pulled away for another regular season crown, while Iowa State crumbled under pressure, falling from a high of No. 11 in the AP Poll to unranked in the span of three weeks.

    Marquette separated itself in the Big East, the program’s first regular season championship since 2013. UCLA put its foot down on the Pac-12, winning all eight of its February outings to build a lead atop the league it rode to its first regular-season conference title in a decade, too.

    Conference Tournaments: Does Duke Have It Figured Out?

    For the third time since 2017, Duke won the ACC Tournament, and it looked good doing it. The Blue Devils had some dips during the season, but their young talent gelled better than before, and the narrative around them heading into the Big Dance was that of a Final Four contender. Like Duke, Texas showcased its togetherness under interim head coach Rodney Terry, collecting four wins in four tries to close out the campaign with two victories over Kansas and the Big 12 Tournament title.

    Alabama routed Texas A&M – who had a nice little run to end the year to put itself firmly in the field of 68 – in the SEC Tournament Final to hoist its second conference tournament trophy in three seasons to go along with its regular season companion. Marquette continued a nine-contest winning streak dating back to mid-February en route to its Big East Tournament championship, while Arizona ended UCLA’s 12-game unbeaten run with a 61-59 sidestepping of the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament Final.

    Outside of deep runs from Ohio State, Penn State, and Vanderbilt in their respective tournaments and Memphis figuring out Houston in the AAC Tournament Final, there weren’t many surprises in this year’s conference brackets. Those were saved for the big one.

    March’s Madness: Favorites Beware

    We experienced upset escalation the likes of which humans have hardly seen. First, Virginia melted down in the final seconds to Furman, and the college basketball world embraced the memes. Then, Princeton humiliated Arizona to make it three tournaments in a row for No. 15 seed advancement, pushing UVA’s embarrassment out of the limelight.

    To the relief of Tucson, the chaos continued. In perfect pairing with David versus Goliath, Division I’s smallest team took down its tallest – Fairleigh Dickinson ruined Purdue’s season, 63-58, in just the second time a No. 16 seed has overcome a No. 1 seed.

    And that was just the first round. By the end of the first weekend, Kansas was another No. 1 seed gone, the East Regional was a complete mess, and Princeton followed the footsteps of 2021 Oral Roberts and 2022 Saint Peter’s into the Sweet 16.

    The last two No. 1 seeds – Alabama and Houston – exited before the Elite Eight. San Diego State smothered the Crimson Tide’s high-octane offense, and Miami blitzed Houston with its own robust scoring machine. Kansas State and Michigan State offered us one of the most memorable Sweet 16 games in recent history, headlined by Markquis Nowell’s unbelievable 20-point, 19-assist display, and Gonzaga nearly recreated its 2006 choke to UCLA.

    Come the Regional Finals, many of the participants had already set program records. San Diego State, Creighton, and Florida Atlantic were all embarking on their first Elite Eight experiences, and Miami was there for just its second-ever time. Kansas State and Texas aren’t usually around that late, either. But an unorthodox Elite Eight birthed an even more absurd Final Four – the champs would be one of UConn, Miami, San Diego State, or Florida Atlantic.

    Experience shined through in this tournament. Teams with older, veteran players generally fared better, and the transfer portal, NIL, and Covid eligibility were all huge determinants in who danced and who didn’t. It’s never been more normal for a 25-year-old to play college basketball, and we felt it this March and throughout the season.

    This iteration of the Madness also reminded us all that during this month, absolutely nobody is safe. That’s why we all watch, isn’t it?

    April Review: One for the Thumb

    After eviscerating everyone in its path leading up to the Final Four, UConn was the presumptive favorite to complete the challenge as champs in the week before the national semifinals. Otherwise, people either marveled at the ridiculousness of the field or balked about assumed TV ratings, as if those should matter to anyone below C-level.

    Nobody balked at Lamont Butler.

    Florida Atlantic led by 14 with just under 14 minutes to play, but a barrage of Aztec-induced turnovers and suffocating defense blossomed the opportunity of a lifetime for Butler. As time expired, the guard delivered the first and only true buzzer beater of the tournament, punctuating the fifth-straight razor-thin game the Owls offered the viewing public, this time on the wrong side – the mid-major title belt went west.

    Meanwhile, Miami didn’t roll over, but UConn did what was expected of it, notching another double-digit drumming for its March Madness mantle. The impending coming-together with San Diego State was supposed to be the sixth such celebration for Connecticut.

    For the most part, it was. The Huskies did what they did all tournament long and joined the elite ranks of 2018 Villanova and 2009 North Carolina as the most recent teams to win the national championship without allowing an opponent within single digits at the final horn.

    In most tournaments, the champion averts an adversary narrowly, sometimes several. This is a well-understood concept to the Huskies. In 2023, the gauntlet’s ultimate survivor did anything but. Rather, it thrived.

    Since the Sweet 16, an air of inevitability surrounded this Storrs squad. Dominant in nearly every aspect of the game, able to excel in track meets, rock fights, and everything in between, matching up with Dan Hurley’s men was an impossible feat.

    There’s an inescapable ethos associated with those five letters, often incorrectly stylized in all caps. But on the night that the program earned its fifth ring, leveling with the likes of Duke and Indiana, the appropriate aphorism is UCONN.

    CBB FAQs

    When are brackets due for March Madness?

    For March Madness Bracket pools, brackets typically are due before the start of the First Four games on March 15. However, on RunYourPool, commissioners have the ability to select their own due date for when brackets need to be submitted. Commissioners can access this setting by viewing their Commissioner Console and clicking on the Pool Settings.

    How do I run a March Madness bracket for my office?

    To run a March Madness Bracket Pool for your office, head over to RunYourPool.com! RunYourPool offers a plethora of different pool options to ensure the fun and competition amongst participants. Additionally, RunYourPool allows pool commissioners to customize and modify pools the way they see fit. It should take less than five minutes to set up your pool and start inviting colleagues!

    How do you win your NCAA bracket?

    To win a traditional March Madness Bracket pool, you will need to correctly select the winners of as many of the tournament's games as possible. In most March Madness contests, the point total of each correct selection increases with each ensuing round, culminating in the most important pick of all: the national championship game winner!

    How do I fill out an NCAA bracket?

    To fill out a March Madness Bracket, you will try to select the winner of every game of the tournament. The bracket begins with 68 teams and culminates in a championship between the final two remaining teams. You can fill out your bracket using RunYourPool and compete against friends, colleagues, family and more!

    What is a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool?

    A March Madness Head-to-Head Pool is a type of pool in which participants are randomly assigned one of the tournament's 64 teams. Participants advance if their team covers the spread, which allows every entry and team to have a chance of winning. If a team loses outright but covers the spread, the participant who's team covered will advance to the next round with the winning team.

    What is the best way to play a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool?

    The best way to play a March Madness Head-to-Head Pool is to set it up using RunYourPool and invite all of your friends! Setting up the pool and inviting participants is easy and should take less than five minutes. Next, you can randomize or assign the teams that participants will have.

    Are March Madness brackets legal?

    March Madness Brackets are completely legal to fill out and compete against fellow pool entries and users. Multiple softwares, including RunYourPool, will run sweepstakes and public contests for users to vie for a grand prize. Bracket pools must be in compliance with RunYourPools’s Terms and Conditions and must be for entertainment purposes only.

    What is a March Madness Squares Pool?

    A March Madness Squares Pools contains a 10x10 grid with each row and column being numbered 0-9. Prior to the tournament's start, pool members can login and select their squares. Next, when the tournament begins, the grid numbers are revealed. Members keep the same squares for each game and RunYourPool keeps track of the winners and other helpful statistics.

    How does the NCAA select its teams?

    32 of the 68 basketball teams that are selected for the NCAA tournament receive automatic entry into the competition as a result of winning their conference championship. The remaining teams get what's know as an "at-large bid," which extended by the NCAA selection committee based on the team's performance throughout the season.

    What is a March Madness bracket pool?

    A March Madness Bracket is a competition where players attempt to select the winning teams of each round of the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Tournament in March. Traditionally, players would fill out a paper bracket and hand it into a pool commissioner. In recent years, software like RunYourPool.com has digitized and streamlined the process for speed and ease.

    How many teams are in March Madness?

    March Madness begins with 68 teams that are announced on Selection Sunday, March 13, 2022. The First Four consists of four games and the winners advance to the Round of 64. The following rounds are the Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and finally, the National Championship game.

    What is a March Madness Surivor Pool?

    A March Madness Survivor Pool is a type of pool where participants select one team to win their game for every day of the tournament. Typically, entries are only allowed to select each team once and the last entry standing wins! Survivor pools are a really fun way for entries to compete and test their knowledge

    What is the best way to play a March Madness Survivor Pool?

    The best way to play a March Madness Survivor Pool is to make a pool or join one using RunYourPool. Participants find it helpful to try to map out their picks ahead of the start of the tournament, and save the higher seeded teams for the later round picks of the survivor pool.

    How long is March Madness?

    March Madness takes place over three weeks, starting the First Four, First Round and Second Round in one week. The Sweet 16 and Elite Eight take place during the second week, while the Final Four and National Championship are played on Saturday and Monday the following week.

    What are the odds of a perfect March Madness bracket?

    Experts say that the odds of you crafting a perfect bracket in March Madness run from 1 in 120 billion to 1 in 9.2 quintillion, depending on how much you know about the teams, and about basketball. To put that in perspective, your odds of winning the lottery are significantly better, at 1 in 292 million.

    What is a March Madness Pick-X Pool?

    March Madness Pick X is a pool format in which the pool commissioner specifies a specific amount of teams that every participant will select. For each win of a team selected, participants will be awarded the amount of points of that team's seed, generally encouraging entrants to pick upsets. At the end of the tournament, the entry with the most points is the champion.

    What are Mid-Major teams?

    Mid-Major Teams are universities and colleges that play Division I basketball, are not part of a major conference such as the SEC or Big Ten. Mid-Major Teams are a substantial part of March Madness, as they regularly win lots games from mid-tiered conferences. Some examples of Mid-Major conferences are the WCC, Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and Conference USA. Upsets usually occur from Mid-Major schools.

    What is the lowest seed to win the NCAA Tournament?

    In the March Madness Tournament, one of the higher seeds usually ends up winning it all. However, there have been a few occurrences where a lower seed fought their way to eternal glory. In 1985, Villanova won the Championship as a No. 8 seed and is the lowest seed to win in the tournament’s history.

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