March Madness bracket predictions 6.0: Projecting the Field of 68 for 2021 NCAA Tournament
March Madness projections-030220-SN-FTR
(Maddie Kiebel/SN Illustrations)

Selection Sunday for the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is just days away.

The 68-team field is taking shape through conference tournament week, and Wednesday’s schedule features 33 conference tournament games. A lot can change from the No. 1 seeds to the bubble over the next four days, and SN will track the action with daily updates from here through Selection Sunday.

Here is a look at Sporting News’ updated Field of 68 as of Friday, March 12: 

MORE: Sporting News’ 2020-21 college basketball All-Americans

March Madness bracket predictions for 2021 NCAA Tournament

Projected No. 1 seeds

  • **Gonzaga 26-0 (West Coast)
  • Baylor 22-2 
  • Michigan 20-3 (Big Ten)
  • Illinois 21-6

Lowdown: Gonzaga won the West Coast Conference tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons and should be a virtual lock for the top seed in the tournament. Baylor also appears to be a lock for a No. 1 seed despite a loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 semifinals. Michigan and Illinois took care of business in the Big Ten semifinals, which should be enough to get the conference a pair of No. 1 seeds. 

Projected No. 2 seeds

  • Alabama 22-6 (SEC)
  • Iowa 21-7
  • Houston 22-3 (American)
  • Ohio State 20-8

Lowdown: The Hawkeyes could slide up to a No. 1 with a strong showing in Indianapolis. KenPom has Iowa at No. 4, so it’s possible. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are a borderline 3-seed after losing their last four games of the regular season. Ohio State can solidify a No. 2 seed with a victory against Purdue in the Big Ten quarterfinals. 

Projected No. 3 seeds

  • Virginia 18-6 (ACC)
  • Arkansas 22-5
  • Kansas 20-8
  • Oklahoma State 20-7 (Big 12)

Lowdown: Kansas and Virginia pulled out of their respective conference tournaments because players tested positive for COVID-19. This is going to be a real dilemma for the selection committee because both teams are firm on the No. 3 line. With the seven-day restrictions, both teams would theoretically have to play first-round games Saturday. Oklahoma State can hold this spot with a victory against Texas in the Big 12 championship. 

Projected No. 4 seeds

  • Texas 18-7
  • West Virginia 18-9
  • Villanova 16-6
  • Florida State 16-5

Lowdown: Florida State can stick on this line with a win in the ACC championship game against Georgia Tech. A 69-66 victory against North Carolina made that case stronger. Villanova missed a chance to move up a line after a 72-71 loss to Georgetown in the Big East tournament. 

MORE: Iowa’s Luka Garza is Sporting News’ Player of the Year

Projected No. 5 seeds

  • Purdue 18-9
  • Creighton 20-7 (Big East)
  • USC 22-6 (Pac-12)
  • Colorado 21-7

Lowdown: Purdue missed out on a chance to move up after an 87-78 overtime loss to Ohio State. 

Projected No. 6 seeds

  • Wisconsin 17-12
  • Tennessee 18-7
  • Texas Tech 17-10
  • Florida 14-9

Lowdown: Tennessee beat Florida 78-66 in the SEC quarterfinals, and the Vols still have room to move up while the Gators could slip down a line as a result. Wisconsin has a higher KenPom rating, but this still seems like the logical landing spot at this point. 

Projected No. 7 seeds

  • Oregon 20-6
  • LSU 17-8
  • San Diego State 21-4 (Mountain West)
  • North Carolina 18-10

Lowdown: The Tar Heels are heating up at the right time, and the victory against Virginia Tech should pull them off the No. 8 line. The loss to the Seminoles did not hurt too much. LSU, which won six of its last eight games, stays on this line. 

Projected No. 8 seeds

  • Clemson 16-7
  • Connecticut 15-6
  • **Loyola-Chicago 24-4 (Missouri Valley)
  • Oklahoma 15-10

Lowdown: Clemson likely could slide down to this line after a 67-64 loss to Miami on Thursday. The team No. 1 seeds might be wary of is Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers have lost just one game since Jan. 11.

MORE: Michigan’s Juwan Howard is Sporting News’ Coach of the Year

Rest of field projections

No. 9 seeds: BYU 20-6, St. Bonaventure (A-10) 15-4, Virginia Tech 15-6, Missouri 17-9

No. 10 seeds: Georgia Tech 16-8, Maryland 16-13, Rutgers 15-10, VCU 19-6

No. 11 seeds: UCLA 17-9, Louisville 13-7, Michigan State 15-12, Utah State* 19-7, Syracuse 16-9*

No. 12 seeds: Western Kentucky 20-6 (C-USA), **Winthrop 23-1 (Big South), Wichita State 16-4, Colorado State* 17-5, Drake* 25-4

No. 13 seeds: **Liberty 22-5 (A-Sun), Ohio 15-7 (MAC), UC Santa Barbara 21-4 (Big West), Colgate 12-7 (Patriot)

No. 14 seeds: **UNC-Greensboro 20-8 (Southern), **Morehead State 23-7 (Ohio Valley), Grand Canyon 16-6 (WAC), Eastern Washington 14-7 (Big Sky)

No. 15 seeds: **Cleveland State 19-7 (Horizon), Nicholls State 18-6 (Southland), **Oral Roberts 16-10 (Summit), **Drexel 12-7 (Colonial)

No. 16 seeds: Iona 11-5 (MAAC), Hartford 13-8 (America East), Norfolk State* 15-7 (MEAC), Prairie View A&M* 15-4 (SWAC), **Appalachian State* 17-11 (Sun Belt), **Mount St. Mary’s* 12-10 (Northeast)

*First Four teams

** Teams that have clinched automatic bids

Last four in

  • Drake 25-4
  • Utah State 19-7
  • Colorado State 18-5
  • Syracuse 16-9

Lowdown: Syracuse is back on the bubble after a 72-69 loss to Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals. The Orange, however, might be helped by Duke missing the rest of the ACC tournament. Drake didn’t win its conference tournament, but the Bulldogs should be able crack the Field of 68. Colorado State and Utah State play Friday in the MWC tournament. The winner should clinch a berth. The loser will be watching Ole Miss closely. 

First four out

  • Ole Miss 16-11
  • Xavier 13-8
  • St. Louis 14-6
  • Boise State 18-8

Lowdown: Xavier is in trouble after a 70-69 loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament on Thursday. That overtime loss, could knock the Musketeers off the bubble. Xavier blew a 14-point lead in the loss. Boise State lost 89-82 to Nevada, which might have knocked the Broncos out of tournament consideration. Seton Hall’s bubble burst after a 66-58 loss to Georgetown in the Big East semifinals. 

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *