March Mad Bracket Predictions 1.0: Projecting a field of 68 for the 2021 NCAA Tournament

March is almost here, meaning that the 2021 NCAA tournament is in the corner.

Well, there is hope. The NCAA is doing what it can to reduce the risk of playing COVID-19 with the tournament – setting up the entire schedule at Indiana State – but there is only so much that can be done. They are expected to play the game without delay and interruption, but more importantly, all remain safe. Due to everything being on track, the selection is Sunday 14 March.

Let’s jump back to the NCAA Tournament Projections game, with our 68 field debut of the season.

As always, Sporting News ’68 projections are based on the field, where teams should be based on how their résumé compares, if the season ended yesterday. Since we are still a few weeks from selection Sunday, I do not belong to this field and follow the principles; If your team has an 8-series resume relative to other teams in the area, they are on the 8-seed line. simple as that.

MORE: A change in the March Madness schedule could make it the biggest day (or days) in NCAA tournament history

For each team, I have included some rankings and records that will be very relevant when the selection committee meets to make the actual bracket. Automatic bids (mentioned in parentheses) go to the team with the best conference record. In the case of a tie, the team is bid with the best net rating.

March Madness bracket forecast for 2021 NCAA tournament

Estimated number 1 seed

Gonzaga (West Coast), Boiler (Big 12), Michigan (Big Ten), Ohio State

  • Gonzaga (22-0): Net / Pom: 1/1. Vs. Q1: 7–0. Vs Q 3/4: 10-0
  • Boiler (17-0): Net / Pom: 2/2. Vs. Q1: 6–0. Vs Q 3/4: 9-0
  • Michigan (16-1): NET / Pom: 3/3. Vs. Q1: 11–0. Vs Q 3/4: 6-0
  • Ohio State (18-5): NET / Pom: 7/7. Vs Q1: 8-4. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0

idea: At this point the top three teams – Gonzaga, and Michigan – are locked in a much higher No. 1 seed. At the very least, all three have a considerable 1-seed cushion. Ohio State is at the fourth No. 1 seed for the moment, ahead of Illinois, even losing at home in Michigan was an exciting game. If the Buckeyes travel again and Illinois stumbles a bit, Alabama can do a 1-seed push.

Estimated 2 seeds

Illinois, Alabama (SEC), Villanova (Big East), Iowa

  • Illinois (16-5): NET / Pom: 4/5. Vs Q1: 7-5. Vs Q 3/4: 5-0
  • Alabama (18-5): NET / Pom: 8/8. Vs. Q1: 7-3. Vs Q 3/4: 6-0
  • Villanova (14–3): net / pom: 10/11. Vs Q1: 2-2. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0
  • Iowa (17-6): Net / Pom: 5/4. Vs Q1: 4-5. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0

idea: Iowa still has a 1-seed prospect, but it will certainly need to win its next two games – at Michigan on Thursday and Ohio State on Saturday. No small work. Villanova is more likely to leave one seed line with one loss or two to jump to the top seed line; The Wildcats only have two Quad 1 wins, and only one of their last four matches (at home vs. Crayton) is a Quad 1 prospect. Three Q1 wins will not be enough, unless crazy things happen.

Estimated 3 seeds

Houston, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida State (ACC)

  • Houston (17-3): Net / Pom: 6/6. Vs Q1: 2-1. Vs Q 3/4: 11-1
  • Virginia (15-5): NET / Pom: 9/9. Vs Q1: 3-4. Vs Q 3/4: 7-1
  • West Virginia (15-6): NET / Pom: 15/16. Vs Q1: 6-6. Vs Q 3/4: 5-0
  • Oklahoma (14–5): NET / Pom: 19/26. Vs Q1: 5-5. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0

idea: Oklahoma has won seven of its last eight matches, including road wins in West Virginia and Texas, two teams in the top 5 seed lines of this week’s launch. The committee likes such results. West Virginia’s resume includes an impressive sweep of road wins at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

4 seeds are estimated

Florida State, Tennessee, Kansas, USC (Pac 12)

  • Florida State (13-3): NET / Pom: 12/12. Vs Q1: 3-2. Vs Q 3/4: 5-1
  • Tennessee (15-6): Net / Pom: 18/24. Vs Q1: 5-4. Vs Q 3/4: 9-0
  • Kansas (16-7): Net / Pom: 16/22. Vs Q1: 5-7. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0
  • USC (19-4): NET / Pom: 14/14. Vs Q1: 3-1. Vs Q 3/4: 12-0

idea: USC won another resume on Monday night, beating Oregon by 14 points at home. He has 14 wins in the last 16 matches for the Trojans. The Pac 12 doesn’t provide much in the way of elite level wins, but the Trojans are collecting as many mid-level wins as possible. And, yes, this is the same year that Kans’ hold on the Big 12 title has ended, but the Jayhawks are still a good team playing their best ball of the season (five consecutive wins).

5 seeds are estimated

Texas, Missouri, Virginia Tech, Texas Tech

  • Texas (13-6): Net / Pom: 23/21. Vs. Q1: 3-6. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0
  • Missouri (14-6): Net / Pom: 39/44. Vs Q1: 6-4. Vs Q 3/4: 6-0
  • Virginia Tech (14-4): NET / Pom: 36/35. Vs Q1: 3-2. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0
  • Texas Tech (14-8): Net / Pom: 14/22. Vs Q1: 4-7. Vs Q 3/4: 10-0

idea: When the selection committee revealed the top four seed lines, Missouri was listed as the No. 16 seed. The Tigers immediately went out and lost three consecutive games before righting the ship with a win at South Carolina. In this launch, however, Mizzou has only fallen to the 5-seed line, and here’s why: player availability. Senior big man Jeremiah Tillman missed all three games, and he matters to the selection committee. He was in the lineup when Mizzou defeated Alabama – the only SEC loss so far for the Tides – and South Carolina back in the mix for the win.

6 seeds are estimated

Purdue, Wisconsin, Crayton, Arkansas

  • Purdue (15-8): net / pom: 28/17. Vs Q1: 4-7. Vs Q 3/4: 6-1
  • Wisconsin (16-8): Net / Pom: 20/13. Vs Q1: 3-7. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0
  • Creighton (16-5): NET / Pom: 25/15. Vs Q1: 4-1. Vs Q 3/4: 5-4
  • Arkansas (17–5): net / pom: 26/24. Vs Q1: 4-4. Vs Q 3/4: 9-0

idea: In other estuaries Creighton is as high as a 4 seed, but appears to be inflated. They only have one win against a big lock (home vs. Villanova), but they have four – four teams that won’t smell a big bid (home vs. Marquette, Butler, home vs.). Providence and Home v. Georgetown). They are solidly fielded, with quality wins against Seton Hall (two), Xavier and Ucino, but it feels like their seed level.

7 seeds are estimated

Oklahoma State, Clemson, Florida, LSU

  • Oklahoma State (15-6): NET / Pom: 41/43. Vs Q1: 6-4. Vs Q 3/4: 8-1
  • Clemson (13-5): NET / Pom: 38/41. Vs Q1: 4-5. Vs Q 3/4: 4-0
  • Florida (11-6): Net / Pom: 29/32. Vs. Q1: 3-3. Vs Q 3/4: 5-1
  • LSU (14-6): NET / Pom: 27/27. Vs. Q1: 3-6. Vs Q 3/4: 9-0

idea: Oklahoma State was, of course, technically barred from the 2021 tournament, but that decision is being appealed and A. Cowboys uphold that appeal. No one knows when the NCAA will rule on that appeal, but at this point the selection to disqualify the Cowboys will be closer to Sunday. With a win like a Monday night – beating Texas Tech in OT – they are showing that they are definitely worthy of the tournament.

8 seeds are estimated

Oregon, UCLA, Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley), BYU

  • Oregon (14-5): Net / Pom: 42/37. Vs Q1: 2-3. Vs Q 3/4: 8-2
  • UCLA (16-5): net / pom: 43/45. Vs Q1: 2-3. Vs Q 3/4: 12-0
  • Loyola Chicago (17-4): NET / Pom: 11/9. Vs Q1: 1-2. Vs Q 3/4: 12-0
  • BYU (16-5): NET / Pom: 22/20. Vs. Q1: 3-3. Vs Q 3/4: 9-0

idea: Computers irrationally love Loyola, though we had no idea that machines could make love. You look at the net / pom rankings (9/11) and you think it’s the top four seeds. But Loyola’s best wins are in Drake and home vs. North Texas, and they lost two of their biggest non-conference games (in Wisconsin / Neutral vs. Richmond). It is not a top four seed caliber.

9 seeds are estimated

Rutgers, Colorado, Louisville, San Diego State (Mountain West)

  • Rutgers (12-9): Net / Pom: 31/28. Vs Q1: 4-8. Vs Q 3/4: 5-0
  • Colorado (17-7): Net / Pom: 21/17. Vs Q1: 2-4. Vs Q 3/4: 9-3
  • Louisville (11-5): NET / Pom: 53/52. Vs Q1: 0-4. Vs Q 3/4: 5-1
  • San Diego State (16-4): NET / Pom: 24/19. Vs. Q1: 0–3. Vs Q 3/4: 12-0

idea: We have two teams on the No. 9 seed line — Louisville and San Diego State — that combined for a Zero Quad 1 win, and this is where you begin to realize that the bubble is not filled with strong resumes. Take a look at the 10-seed line below and you will see three teams with four Q1 wins and then a team that has five Q1 wins but only three games at 500 (vs. D-1 teams).

Projected 10 seeds

North Carolina, Boise State, Xavier, Maryland

  • North Carolina (14-7): NET / Pom: 34/29. Vs. Q1: 1-6. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0
  • Boise State (17-4): NET / Pom: 32/55. Vs Q1: 2-2. Vs Q 3/4: 13-0
  • Xavier (12-4): NET / Pom: 50/58. Vs Q1: 1-2. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0
  • Maryland (13-10): NET / Pom: 30/30. Vs Q1: 5-9. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0

idea: Two games in the schedule, North Carolina was 0-2 in league play and 5-4 overall. The Tar Heels have made a big climb, defeating fellow bubble teams Louisville, Duke and Syracuse, while not losing the stretch despite losing solidly to teams in the big field (Florida State, Virginia and Clemson) Can lift

11 seeds are estimated

Seton Hall, Drake, Indiana, VCU, Colorado State, Stanford

  • Seton Hall (13-9): Net / Pom: 49/38. Vs. Q1: 3-6. Vs Q 3/4: 7-1
  • Drake (21-2): Net / Pom: 33/47. Vs Q1: 1-1. Vs Q 3/4: 16-1
  • * Indiana (12-10): NET / Pom: 52/33. Vs Q1: 3-7. Vs Q 3/4: 4-2
  • * VCU (16-5): NET / Pom: 35/46. Vs. Q1: 0–3. Vs Q 3/4: 7-2
  • * Colorado State (13-4): NET / Pom: 46/66. Vs Q1: 2-3. Vs Q 3/4: 10-0
  • * Stanford (14-9): NET / Pom: 57/61. Vs Q1: 4-5. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0

idea: With the final six big teams, we have all kinds of diverse resumes. That’s why it’s fun, isn’t it? On the one hand, Indiana is only a doubles game north of the 500, but the Hoosiers flow to Iowa and win over bubble teams Stanford, Maryland and Minnesota. On the other hand, Drake missed only two games, but is slim from top to start again. And with teams in the First Four out, it’s more of the same.

Number 12 seed: St. Bonventure (Atlantic 10), Wichita State (American), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), Colgate (Patiala)
13 No seeds: Belmont (Ohio Valley), Winthrop (Big South), Toledo (MAC), Wright State (Horizon)
14 no seeds: North Texas (Conference USA), UNCG (Southern), Abilene Christian (Southland), Liberty (Atlantic Sun)
15 no seeds: Vermont (East of America), Eastern Washington (Big Sky), James Madison (Colonial), Grand Canyon (WAC)
No. 16 seeds: Siena (MAAC), South Dakota (Summit), Texas State (Sun Belt), Prairie View A&M (SWAC), Wagner (Northeast), North Carolina A&T (MEAC)

* First four teams

First four out

UConn (10-6): Net / pom: 54/36. Vs Q1: 2-3. Vs Q 3/4: 7-0
Minnesota (13-10): Net / Pom: 60–49. Vs Q1: 4-10. Vs Q 3/4: 8-0
St. Louis (11-4): Net / pom: 48/51. Vs Q1: 1-1. Vs Q 3/4: 9-2
Duke (11-8): Net / pom: 56/31. Vs Q1: 2-3. Vs Q 3/4: 5-2

Other Bubble Teams (Alphabet)

Memphis (12-6): Net / pom: 61/48. Vs Q1: 0-2. Vs Q 3/4: 9-1
Richmond (11-5): Net / pom: 58/59. Vs Q1: 2-2. Vs Q 3/4: 6-2
SMU (11-4): Net / pom: 59/56. Vs. Q1: 0–3. Vs Q 3/4: 7-1
Syracuse (13-7): Net / pom: 47/53. Vs Q1: 0-5. Vs Q 3/4: 10-1
Utah State (13-7): Net / Pom: 55/54. Vs Q1: 2-4. Vs Q 3/4: 10-2

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