The 2022 edition of March Madness has just come to an end, but it’s never too early to see who will make it to the 2023 Final Four in Houston.
The 2022 Final Four was one of the most eagerly awaited groupings in NCAA tournament history, with four Blue Bloods battling to take down the nets in New Orleans. March Madness offers plenty of thrills every year, and 2023 looks set to be exciting as all 368 Division I teams attempt to reach Houston for next April’s Final Four.
It might seem crazy to project the Final Four for next season when we haven’t seen the impact of the NBA draft, the transfer portal, or the final decisions of key recruits. Though we’re almost a year away from crowning the next national champion, here’s a far too early look at who’s coming to Houston and who’s going to win it all.
Projecting the 2023 Final Four and National Champion
The Bruins made the Final Four in the Indianapolis bubble in 2021 but failed to live up to the hype of a preseason-ranked No. 2 this season when they rebounded in North Carolina’s Sweet 16. The good news for Mick Cronin’s team is that this season’s bad taste could tempt Johnny Juzang, Jaime Jaquez and Peyton Watson to forego the draft and return to Westwood for March Madness glory.
The return of this trio, along with the return of guards Tyger Campbell and Jaylen Clark, will give UCLA plenty of experience that should prove valuable when the NCAA tournament rolls around. The forthcoming addition of five-star recruits Adem Bona and Amari Bailey will add more talent to a roster crammed with it, creating an excellent mix that should cross into the Final Four.
The afterglow of a historic championship run should stay with Kansas for a while, but there’s plenty of reason to expect a possible repeat. Even with Ochai Agbaji’s likely departure to the NBA, the Jayhawks will have Dajuan Harris and Jalen Wilson back in the starting lineup, while Christian Braun could bring Kansas back to elite levels if he decides to return to school for his senior season. As the pick of the pick at the head of the second round, Braun would become the favorite to succeed Ogbaji as the Jayhawks’ offense leader if he returns to Lawrence.
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The biggest reason to be bullish on Kansas is the overloaded recruit class with three five-star prospects who could walk in and start right away. The group’s headliner is small forward Gradey Dick, a McDonald’s All-American who ranks in the top 10 on the ESPN 100 and could become the latest one-and-done superstar for the Jayhawks Ben McLemore, Andrew has seen Wiggins and Josh Jackson use Kansas as a stepping stone to the NBA draft lottery.
Eric Musselman has shown he can be a strong NCAA tournament coach with a litany of surprises on his resume, and the Razorbacks are poised to be the SEC’s class next season. Arkansas loses some key rotation players when their seniors don’t exercise their bonus COVID years, with JD Notae being the most notable of them, but Jaylin Williams has made a huge leap forward this season and could be Arkansas’ best player if he relinquished the NBA draft this summer.
The reason the Razorbacks are making the Final Four is because Musselman assembled a top-three recruit class littered with five-star talent like Anthony Black, Nick Smith and Jordan Walsh. These three rank among the top seven most productive recruits in Arkansas program history and should add rocket fuel to a resilient defensive team that needed a little more offensive punch to take the next step up from the Elite Eight to the Final Four.
Houston Cougars – National Champion
What the Cougars have accomplished this season while converting the vast majority of a 2021 Final Four roster has been remarkable. Head coach Kelvin Sampson deserves a ton of credit for managing to propel his team into the Elite Eight without the services of two key starters, Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser, who both lost for the season through injuries in mid-January.
Both boys should be back this season along with several key rotation players including point guard Jamal Shead and big man J’Wan Roberts. That continuity will be huge for Houston, which is also adding top-10 recruit Jarace Walker to add a five-star recruit on the power forward spot. The addition of Walker and the healthy return of their two best players will be a huge boost for the Cougars, who are the favorites when it comes to hitting the nets at NRG Stadium, which is just over 90 minutes from their campus , hold true.
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https://fansided.com/2022/04/04/ncaa-basketball-predictions-final-four-champion/ Predicting the 2023 Final Four and National Champion