Sport March Madness bracket predictions 2.0: Projecting the Field of 68 for 2021 NCAA Tournament
March Madness bubble watch: Blue bloods Duke, Carolina, Michigan State bring aristocratic feel to scramble for bids
These college basketball bluebloods, for various reasons in this most unusual college basketball season, find themselves fighting for the last few NCAA Tournament bids that will be awarded on Selection Sunday.Yes, green is a shade of blue, so long as there is a Spartans basketball player wearing it.
It’s March. That’s as much of an intro to this week’s Field of 68 NCAA Tournament projections as you need, right? Cool. Let’s go.
As always, Sporting News’ Field of 68 projections are based on where teams should be seeded based on how resumes compare, if the season ended yesterday. For each team, I’ve included a couple of rankings and records that will be very relevant when the selection committee meets to build the real bracket.
Automatic bids (noted in parenthesis) go to the team with the best conference record. In case of a tie, the bid is given to the team with the best NET rating.
March Madness bracket tracker: Updated list of automatic bids to 2021 NCAA Tournament
Here's the complete list of automatic bids for the 2021 NCAA Tournament as the March Madness bracket begins to come into focus.A total of 31 automatic bids will be awarded for the NCAA men's basketball tournament in 2021 with the Ivy League on pause, the only conference that does not have a tournament. (Normally the field of 68 consists of 32 auto-qualifiers and 36 at-large bids). Plans could change given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. But as of now, it’s all systems go.
Projected No. 1 seeds
Gonzaga (West Coast), Michigan (Big Ten), Baylor (Big 12), Illinois
Gonzaga (24-0): NET/Pom: 1/1. vs. Q1: 7-0. vs. Q3/4: 12-0
Michigan (18-1): NET/Pom: 2/2. vs. Q1: 8-1. vs. Q3/4: 5-0
Baylor (18-1): NET/Pom: 3/3. vs. Q1: 6-1. vs. Q3/4: 10-0
Illinois (18-6): NET/Pom: 5/6. vs. Q1: 8-5. vs. Q3/4: 5-0
Baylor suffered its first loss of the season, but the Bears are in very little danger of dropping off the top seed line. The only way that would happen would be if they lost their final three regular-season games AND the Big 12 Tournament opener. Even then, they’d still be a worthy candidate. Ohio State dropped off this week and Illinois ascends to that fourth spot on the No. 1 seed line. The Illini dropped a game on the road against a surging Michigan State team a week ago, but rebounded with a workmanlike win over Nebraska and a win at Wisconsin, which is always impressive.
NCAA claims urology clinic's Vasectomy Mayhem trademark is 'confusingly similar' to March Mayhem
If you saw a urology clinic advertising a "Vasectomy Mayhem" spring special would you get confused and think the NCAA was associated with the promotion in an official capacity? The NCAA sure thinks it's possible. The collegiate governing body filed a trademark cancellation request in February to stop a Virginia urology clinic's use of the "Vasectomy Mayhem" phrase. In its filing, the NCAA argues that the clinic's phrase is "confusingly similar"The collegiate governing body filed a trademark cancellation request in February to stop a Virginia urology clinic's use of the "Vasectomy Mayhem" phrase.
Projected No. 2 seeds
Ohio State, Alabama (SEC), Iowa, Houston
Ohio State (18-7): NET/Pom: 8/7. vs. Q1: 7-5. vs. Q3/4: 7-0
Alabama (19-6): NET/Pom: 7/8. vs. Q1: 7-4. vs. Q3/4: 6-1
Iowa (18-7): NET/Pom: 6/5. vs. Q1: 5-6. vs. Q3/4: 5-0
Houston (19-3): NET/Pom: 4/4. vs. Q1: 2-1. vs. Q3/4: 13-1
The Big Ten schedule is brutal, and the Buckeyes are stumbling a bit right now. They’ve lost three in a row — at home vs. Michigan and Iowa, and at Michigan State. Their final regular-season tilt is at home on Saturday against Illinois, against the team that took the No. 1 seed from them this week. Iowa had the nice win at Ohio State, but that followed a 22-point loss at Michigan. The Hawkeyes started well and then were run out of the gym in the last 30 minutes or so.
Projected No. 3 seeds
West Virginia, Villanova (Big East), Kansas, Florida State (ACC)
West Virginia (17-6): NET/Pom: 13/19. vs. Q1: 6-6. vs. Q3/4: 6-0
Villanova (15-4): NET/Pom: 11/10. vs. Q1: 2-3. vs. Q3/4: 8-0
Kansas (17-8): NET/Pom: 10/18. vs. Q1: 6-8. vs. Q3/4: 8-0
2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket Advice: Four best strategy tips for winning March Madness pools
Someone is going to win your 2021 NCAA Tournament pool this year -- why can't it be you? The experts from TeamRankings help you dominate March Madness with four key strategy tips for making your bracket picks.Sometimes it can be difficult to separate the signal from the noise when it comes to bracket strategy. Still, it pays to know the difference. A lot of conventional wisdom about bracket picking is just plain wrong, and following it will torpedo your chances to win your March Madness pool.
Florida State (14-4): NET/Pom: 14/9. vs. Q1: 3-3. vs. Q3/4: 5-1
A very good case could be made for West Virginia ahead of Houston on the 2-seed line, and the Mountaineers have a great chance to solidify that case down the stretch. Their final three games are at home against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State; win all three and they’ll almost certainly be a 2 seed — and a dark horse for that final 1-seed spot. It’s telling that, in a year when the Jayhawks will lose their grip on the Big 12 title (Baylor will run away with that), Kansas still will wind up as a top-4 seed.
Projected No. 4 seeds
Arkansas, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas
Arkansas (19-5): NET/Pom: 18/17. vs. Q1: 6-4. vs. Q3/4: 9-0
Virginia (16-6): NET/Pom: 20/15. vs. Q1: 3-4. vs. Q3/4: 9-1
Oklahoma State (17-6): NET/Pom: 31/35. vs. Q1: 8-4. vs. Q3/4: 8-1
Texas (14-7): NET/Pom: 27/25. vs. Q1: 4-7. vs. Q3/4: 7-0
Arkansas has done wonders for its eventual NCAA Tournament seed in recent weeks, knocking off four tournament-bound teams in a row: Missouri, Florida, Alabama and LSU. The Razorbacks went from the 8/9/10 seed range to a likely spot in the top five. Impressive. And speaking of impressive, how about Oklahoma State? Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys have four OT wins this year, all against teams that will easily earn at-large bids. That sweep of Oklahoma (one on Saturday, one on Monday) was especially impressive.
Selection Sunday 2021 show time, TV channel for NCAA Tournament bracket reveal
Sporting News has you covered on everything you need to know regarding Selection Sunday 2021: date, time, TV channel and more.Selection Sunday is nearly here, setting in stone — for the most part — which teams will make the 2021 NCAA Tournament. While there are a few sure bets, other teams will need to rely on strong finishes or even win their conference tournament to make it into the final field.
Projected No. 5 seeds
Oklahoma, Purdue, Texas Tech, Florida
Oklahoma (14-8): NET/Pom: 30/31. vs. Q1: 5-6. vs. Q3/4: 8-1
Purdue (16-8): NET/Pom: 22/13. vs. Q1: 5-7. vs. Q3/4: 5-1
Texas Tech (15-8): NET/Pom: 15/23. vs. Q1: 5-7. vs. Q3/4: 10-0
Florida (13-6): NET/Pom: 26/27. vs. Q1: 5-3. vs. Q3/4: 5-1
Obviously the Sooners would have loved to at least split with Oklahoma State, and that could have happened; one game went to OT and the other was decided by four points. But the thing that really hurts the resume? The game before that, a loss on the road to a K-State team that the Sooners beat by 26 points earlier this season. The Wildcats are ranked 200 in the NET — even after beating OU — and hadn’t beaten a team in the NET top 100 all season. Yikes.
Projected No. 6 seeds
Creighton, Colorado, Clemson, Tennessee
Video: Virginia Tech's Keve Aluma Comes Up Big Versus Wake Forest (ACC Digital Network)
Creighton (17-6): NET/Pom: 25/15. vs. Q1: 4-2. vs. Q3/4: 6-3
Colorado (19-7): NET/Pom: 12/16. vs. Q1: 3-4. vs. Q3/4: 9-3
Clemson (15-5): NET/Pom: 33/38. vs. Q1: 4-5. vs. Q3/4: 5-0
Tennessee (16-7): NET/Pom: 21/24. vs. Q1: 5-5. vs. Q3/4: 10-0
Colorado had a big week, winning home games against USC and UCLA. The Buffs have solid computer numbers, as you see, but the three Quad 3 losses aren’t going to help when the committee does its seed scrub. They’ll need as many quality wins as possible. Clemson continues to roll along, winning five in a row in ACC play, and suddenly a resume with only five losses — and neutral-court non-conference wins against Alabama and Purdue — starts to look pretty darn good.
March Madness Bubble Watch: Wichita State, Mountain West teams among 'first four out' after Georgetown, Oregon State steal bids
Conference championship week always shakes up the men's NCAA Tournament bubble in unpredictable fashion. This year is no exception.The Blue Devils never got a shot to face Florida State and make a run for an at-large or automatic bid in the ACC Tournament, and while that likely served as good news for any of the bubble teams sitting at home (ahem, Drake), now there's more trouble for chasing bubble teams.
Projected No. 7 seeds
Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, USC
Missouri (14-7): NET/Pom: 46/48. vs. Q1: 6-4. vs. Q3/4: 6-0
Wisconsin (16-9): NET/Pom: 24/11. vs. Q1: 3-8. vs. Q3/4: 6-0
Virginia Tech (15-5): NET/Pom: 44/46. vs. Q1: 2-2. vs. Q3/4: 10-0
USC (19-6): NET/Pom: 25/21. vs. Q1: 3-3. vs. Q3/4: 12-0
Wisconsin’s computer metrics are solid, as always, and they have a handful of solid victories, but the Badgers lack a “signature” win in a conference with lots of signature-win opportunities — they’re 0-6 combined against Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa.
Projected No. 8 seeds
UCLA (Pac 12), Oregon, BYU, San Diego State (Mountain West)
UCLA (17-6): NET/Pom: 39/41. vs. Q1: 2-4. vs. Q3/4: 12-0
Oregon (17-5): NET/Pom: 42/37. vs. Q1: 3-3. vs. Q3/4: 9-2
BYU (18-5): NET/Pom: 19/22. vs. Q1: 3-3. vs. Q3/4: 10-0
San Diego State (18-4): NET/Pom: 17/20. vs. Q1: 0-3. vs. Q3/4: 12-0
San Diego State had been tied atop the Mountain West in the loss column with Boise State and Colorado State with three league losses each. But the Aztecs knocked one of those teams — the Broncos — out of the conversation with a sweep at home last week. Both games were close (one in OT, one decided by four points) but San Diego State came away with wins both times and went a long way toward firming up that at-large bid.
Projected No. 9 seeds
Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley)
Louisville (13-5): NET/Pom: 47/44. vs. Q1: 1-4. vs. Q3/4: 6-1
LSU (14-8): NET/Pom: 29/29. vs. Q1: 3-8. vs. Q3/4: 8-0
Maryland (15-10): NET/Pom: 28/26. vs. Q1: 5-9. vs. Q3/4: 8-0
Loyola Chicago (19-4): NET/Pom: 16/12. vs. Q1: 1-2. vs. Q3/4: 14-0
Louisville got a much-needed Quad 1 win on Saturday, knocking off Duke in Durham. That’s not the elite win it would be most years, but for a resume with a big ol’ zero in the Q1 win column, it was still huge for Louisville. LSU, on the other hand, lost back-to-back road games. The one at Arkansas wasn’t so bad; the one at Georgia was a bit more painful.
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Projected No. 10 seeds
Rutgers, North Carolina, UConn, St. Bonaventure (Atlantic 10)
Rutgers (13-10): NET/Pom: 38/32. vs. Q1: 4-8. vs. Q3/4: 5-0
North Carolina (15-9): NET/Pom: 45/33. vs. Q1: 2-8. vs. Q3/4: 7-1
UConn (12-6): NET/Pom: 35/28. vs. Q1: 2-3. vs. Q3/4: 7-0
St. Bonaventure (13-4): NET/Pom: 32/34. vs. Q1: 2-2. vs. Q3/4: 9-1
Four of UConn’s six losses this year came with star James Bouknight out of the lineup. In games he’s played, the Huskies’ only setbacks were in OT against Creighton and by single digits on the road at Villanova. That matters to the committee. He’s back and scored a total of 44 points in easy wins against Marquette and Georgetown last week.
Projected No. 11 seeds
Xavier, Colorado State, VCU, Drake, Boise State
Xavier (13-5): NET/Pom: 50/55. vs. Q1: 2-2. vs. Q3/4: 7-0
Colorado State (15-4): NET/Pom: 40/61. vs. Q1: 2-3. vs. Q3/4: 12-0
VCU (17-6): NET/Pom: 37/50. vs. Q1: 1-4. vs. Q3/4: 9-2
*Drake (22-3): NET/Pom: 42/56. vs. Q1: 1-1. vs. Q3/4: 17-2
*Boise State (17-6): NET/Pom: 34/52. vs. Q1: 2-4. vs. Q3/4: 13-0
We talked about Boise’s close calls at San Diego State last week because winning just one of the two would have given the Broncos another quality road win to go with the Ws at BYU and at Colorado State and help the committee forgive two road losses at Nevada. Drake has that shiny record, but the loss against Bradley last week isn’t helpful.
Projected No. 12 seeds
Georgia Tech, Saint Louis, Wichita State (American), Western Kentucky (Conference USA), Colgate (Patriot)
*Georgia Tech (13-8): NET/Pom: 41/30. vs. Q1: 2-6. vs. Q3/4: 6-2
*Saint Louis (13-5): NET/Pom: 43/42. vs. Q1: 1-2. vs. Q3/4: 9-2
Georgia Tech started its season with losses at home to Georgia State and Mercer, but the Jackets now have wins against Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Syracuse, and that’s enough to get in this week. Saint Louis makes it in the final spot, but mostly because Seton Hall, Indiana and Stanford had awful weeks.
No. 13 seeds: Belmont (Ohio Valley), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), Winthrop (Big South), Toledo (MAC)
No. 14 seeds: UNCG (Southern), Cleveland State (Horizon), Abilene Christian (Southland), Liberty (Atlantic Sun)
No. 15 seeds: Vermont (America East), Eastern Washington (Big Sky), James Madison (Colonial), Grand Canyon (WAC)
No. 16 seeds: Siena (MAAC), South Dakota State (Summit), *Texas State (Sun Belt), *Prairie View A&M (SWAC), *Bryant(Northeast), *North Carolina A&T (MEAC)
*First Four teams
Dropped out: Indiana, North Texas, Seton Hall, South Dakota State, Stanford, Wagner, Wright State
Newbies: Bryant, Cleveland State, Georgia Tech, Saint Louis, South Dakota, UConn, Western Kentucky
First four out
Michigan State (13-10): NET/Pom: 77/63. vs. Q1: 4-9. vs. Q3/4: 6-0
Seton Hall (13-10): NET/Pom: 53/43. vs. Q1: 3-6. vs. Q3/4: 7-1
Duke (11-9): NET/Pom: 58/36. vs. Q1: 2-3. vs. Q3/4: 5-3
Indiana (12-12): NET/Pom: 57/37. vs. Q1: 3-9. vs. Q3/4: 3-2
Other bubble teams (alphabetical)
Memphis (14-6): NET/Pom: 59/47. vs. Q1: 0-2. vs. Q3/4: 10-1
Minnesota (13-12): NET/Pom: 70/57. vs. Q1: 4-10. vs. Q3/4: 8-1
Mississippi (13-10): NET/Pom: 60/58. vs. Q1: 3-4. vs. Q3/4: 6-2
SMU (11-4): NET/Pom: 54/51. vs. Q1: 0-3. vs. Q3/4: 7-1
Stanford (14-11): NET/Pom: 63/70. vs. Q1: 4-5. vs. Q3/4: 9-1
Syracuse (14-8): NET/Pom: 55/59. vs. Q1: 1-6. vs. Q3/4: 10-1
Utah State (14-7): NET/Pom: 48/45. vs. Q1: 2-4. vs. Q3/4: 12-2
Ranking the 2021 men’s NCAA tournament contenders, from 1-68 .
The Illini will enter the tournament’s first round having lost just once over a span of two months – and having won six consecutive games against tourney teams by an average margin of 11.5. In Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, they have the best guard-big duo in college basketball. But it’s the supporting cast that has elevated them to the top of this second tier. Illinois has very few weaknesses. It has a coach who’s now transformed three different programs. It has as good a shot as anybody on the right half of the bracket to do what it just did on Sunday: win a championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. 3. Baylor (+500 | S1; vs.