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Wayne Staats | | March 16, 2023

Alabama, Houston, Purdue — and No. 3 Gonzaga are the fans' top picks to make the 2023 Final Four

The longest perfect March Madness bracket ever (we think)

It's good to be a No. 1 seed. For the most part.

The four top seeds were four of the five most-picked teams in the Men's Bracket Challenge Game to make the Final Four, with Alabama, Houston and Purdue taking the top three spots in complete brackets. But it was No. 3 Gonzaga which came in fourth, ahead of No. 1 Kansas. There were some other notable standouts, too. Here are a few:

  • Alabama led the way, going to the Final Four in more than half completed MBCG brackets: 52.18 percent. For reference, Gonzaga led the picks last year here at 62.57 percent — and lost in the Sweet 16 to Arkansas
  • Houston, which beat out the Tide for the most-popular champion, was the second-most common Final Four selection at 49.65 percent.
  • Though "only" a No. 3 seed, Gonzaga was picked to make the Final Four more often than No. 1 Kansas and ALL the No. 2 seeds at 30.36 percent.
  • Arizona was the leading No. 2 seed at 25.57 percent.
  • Looking for a true Cinderella? Well, fans started with No. 12 Oral Roberts. ORU went to the Final Four on 3.81 percent of MBCG brackets, which is the best for not only all double-digit seeds but is ahead of all No. 6, 7, 8 AND 9 seeds.

Here's how the percentages break down in each region, noting the four top favorites in each.


Team Percent picked to Final Four
No. 1 Alabama 52.18
No. 2 Arizona 25.57
No. 3 Baylor 8.46
No. 4 Virginia 3.77

The top overall seed ran away here, doubling up No. 2 Arizona for the South Regional. Though that 52.18 percent doesn't match Gonzaga's numbers last year as the No. 1 overall, it's still impressive that more than half of the completed brackets had Alabama making the Final Four.


Team Percent picked to Final Four
No. 1 Purdue 32.64
No. 2 Marquette 23.27
No. 5 Duke 15.35
No. 4 Tennessee 6.89

This was a fascinating region.

First, No. 5 Duke came in well ahead of No. 3 Kansas State (6.32) and No. 4 Tennessee (6.89) when it came to fans' picks for the Final Four. But that's not all. No. 12 Oral Roberts — yes, No. 12 — picked up 3.81 percent.

That 3.81 percent of brackets having No. 12 ORU in the Final Four is a higher percentage than a No. 4 (Virginia), two No. 5s (San Diego State and Saint Mary's), all 6 seeds, all 7 seeds, etc. Some of that comes down to how fans perceive the different regions and if there's a clear favorite, but remember Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16 only two years ago as a No. 15 seed, is 30-4 this season and still has star Max Abmas, who scored 29 against No. 2 Ohio State and 26 against No. 7 Florida in the 2021 NCAA tournament.


Team Percent picked to Final Four
No. 1 Houston 49.65
No. 2 Texas 24.80
No. 3 Xavier 8.09
No. 4 Indiana 4.75

Almost half of the completed MBCG brackets think Houston will get to play in Houston for the Final Four. This broke down very similar to Alabama's region, as the top four seeds slotted in order, with a clear diving line between the four seeds.


Team Percent picked to Final Four
No. 3 Gonzaga 30.36
No. 1 Kansas 29.62
No. 2 UCLA 22.77
No. 4 UConn 9.86

No. 3 Gonzaga is the top pick out west, but you can see it was extremely close. Here's the only region with three teams earning at least 20 percent — with more than half thinking either No. 2 UCLA or No. 3 Gonzaga will make the national semifinals.

But that's not all — No. 4 UConn was also the most-popular No. 4 seed, another sign that this region was the fans' toughest to call.

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