Thursday, April 15, 2021

March Madness 2.0 Bracket Predictions: 68-field projection for the 2021 NCAA tournament

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It’s March. That’s as much of an introduction to this week’s NCAA Field of 68 tournament screenings that you need, right? Fresh. Let’s go.

As always, Sporting News’ Field of 68 projections are based on where teams should be ranked based on CV comparison, if the season ended yesterday. For each team, I have included a few rankings and records that will be very relevant when the selection committee meets to build the real support.

AFTER: March Madness Replacement Rules, Explained

Automatic bids (shown in parentheses) go to the team with the best conference record. In the event of a tie, the offer goes to the team with the highest NET score.

Seeds n ° 1 projected

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. against 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. against Q3 / 4: 5-0

Baylor suffered their first loss of the season, but the Bears face very little risk of losing the seed. The only way that would happen would be if they lost their last three regular season games AND the opening of the Big 12 tournament. Even then, they would still be a worthy contender. Ohio State fell this week and Illinois advance to fourth place on the No.1 line. The Illini abandoned a road game against a booming Michigan State team there. was a week old, but rebounded with a professional win over Nebraska and a win over Wisconsin, which is always impressive.

Screened n ° 2 seeds

Ohio State, Alabama (SEC), Iowa, Houston

Ohio State (18-7): NET / Pom: 8/7. vs Q1: 7-5. against Q3 / 4: 7-0
Alabama (19-6): NET / Pom: 7/8. vs Q1: 7-4. against Q3 / 4: 6-1
Iowa (18-7): NET / Pom: 6/5. vs Q1: 5-6. against Q3 / 4: 5-0
Houston (19-3): NET / Pom: 4/4. vs Q1: 2-1. against 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 to Michigan and Iowa, and at Michigan State. Their final regular-season game is at home on Saturday against Illinois, against the team that took the No.1 seed from them this week. Iowa picked up the fine victory at Ohio State, but that follows a 22-point loss to Michigan. The Hawkeyes started well, then were kicked out of the gym for the last 30 minutes or so.

Screened n ° 3 seeds

West Virginia, Villanova (Big East), Kansas, Florida State (ACC)

West Virginia (17-6): NET / Pom: 13/19. vs Q1: 6-6. against Q3 / 4: 6-0
Villanova (15-4): NET / Pom: 11/10. vs Q1: 2-3. against Q3 / 4: 8-0
Kansas (17-8): NET / Pom: 10/18. vs Q1: 6-8. against Q3 / 4: 8-0
Florida State (14-4): NET / Pom: 14/9. vs Q1: 3-3. vs Q3 / 4: 5-1

A very good deal could be made for West Virginia ahead of Houston on the line of the 2 seeds, and the Mountaineers have a great chance to solidify this business in the home stretch. Their last three games are at home against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State; win all three and they’ll almost certainly be a 2-seeded – and a dark horse for that final 1-seeded spot. It’s telling that, in a year when the Jayhawks lose their grip on the Big 12 title (Baylor will run away with that), Kansas will still be in the top 4.

Screened n ° 4 seeds

Arkansas, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas

Arkansas (19-5): NET / Pom: 18/17. vs Q1: 6-4. against 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. against Q3 / 4: 8-1
Texas (14-7): NET / Pom: 27/25. vs Q1: 4-7. against Q3 / 4: 7-0

Arkansas has done wonders for its potential NCAA tournament seed in recent weeks, knocking out four tournament-related teams in a row: Missouri, Florida, Alabama and LSU. The Razorbacks have gone from the 8/9/10 seed lineup to a likely place in the top five. Impressive. And speaking of awesome, what about the state of Oklahoma? Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys have won four OTs this year, all against teams that will easily win all-around offers. This Oklahoma sweep (Saturday, Monday) was particularly impressive.

Screened n ° 5 seeds

Oklahoma, Purdue, Texas Tech, Florida

Oklahoma (14-8): NET / Pom: 30/31. vs Q1: 5-6. against 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 liked to at least have separated from the state of Oklahoma, and it could have happened; one match went to OT and the other was decided by four points. But the thing that really hurts the CV? The game before that, a road loss to a K-State team 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.

Screened n ° 6 seeds

Creighton, Colorado, Clemson, Tennessee

Creighton (17-6): NET / Pom: 25/15. vs Q1: 4-2. against 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. against Q3 / 4: 5-0
Tennessee (16-7): NET / Pom: 21/24. vs Q1: 5-5. vs Q3 / 4: 10-0

Colorado has had a big week, winning home games against USC and UCLA. The Buffs have solid computer numbers, as you can see, but Quad 3’s three losses won’t help when the committee does their seed cleaning. They will need as many quality wins as possible. Clemson keeps rolling, winning five in a row in the ACC game, and suddenly a CV with just five losses – and non-conference wins on neutral ground against Alabama and Purdue – starts looking pretty good.

Screened n ° 7 seeds

Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, USC

Missouri (14-7): NET / Pom: 46/48. vs Q1: 6-4. against Q3 / 4: 6-0
Wisconsin (16-9): NET / Pom: 11/24. vs Q1: 3-8. against 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 wins, but the Badgers don’t have a “signing” win in a conference with plenty of winning opportunities – they’re 0-6 combined against Michigan. , Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa.

Screened n ° 8 seeds

UCLA (Pac 12), Oregon, BYU, State of San Diego (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 for the top of Mountain West in loss column with Boise State and Colorado State with three league losses apiece. But the Aztecs took one of those teams – the Broncos – out of the conversation with a home sweep last week. Both games were close (one in OT, one decided by four points), but San Diego State came away with wins every time and did a lot to solidify that general offer.

Screened n ° 9 seeds

Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Loyola Chicago (Missouri Valley)

Louisville (13-5): NET / Pom: 47/44. vs Q1: 1-4. against Q3 / 4: 6-1
LSU (14-8): NET / Pom: 29/29. vs Q1: 3-8. against Q3 / 4: 8-0
Maryland (15-10): NET / Pom: 28/26. vs Q1: 5-9. against Q3 / 4: 8-0
Loyola Chicago (19-4): NET / Pom: 12/16. vs Q1: 1-2. against Q3 / 4: 14-0

Louisville took a Quad 1 victory on Saturday, knocking out Duke in Durham. It’s not the elite win it would be most years, but for a CV with a big zero in the Q1 win column, it was still huge for Louisville. LSU, on the other hand, has lost back-to-back road games. The one in Arkansas wasn’t that bad; Georgia’s was a little more painful.

Screened n ° 10 seeds

Rutgers, North Carolina, UConn, St. Bonaventure (Atlantic 10)

Rutgers (13-10): NET / Pom: 38/32. vs Q1: 4-8. against 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. against Q3 / 4: 7-0
Saint-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 roster. In the games he’s played, the Huskies’ only losses have been in OT to Creighton and single digits on the road to Villanova. It matters to the committee. He’s back and scored a total of 44 points in easy wins over Marquette and Georgetown last week.

Screened n ° 11 seeds

Xavier, Colorado State, VCU, Drake, Boise State

Xavier (13-5): NET / Pom: 50/55. vs Q1: 2-2. against 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. against Q3 / 4: 13-0

We talked about Boise’s tight calls to San Diego State last week, as winning just one of the two would have given the Broncos another quality road win to go with the Ws at BYU and Colorado State and help the committee to. forgive two losses on the road in Nevada. Drake has this brilliant record, but losing to Bradley last week isn’t helping.

Screened n ° 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 home losses 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 comes in last place, but mostly because Seton Hall, Indiana and Stanford have had terrible weeks.

No 13 seeds: Belmont (Ohio Valley), UC Santa Barbara (Big West), Winthrop (Big South), Toledo (MAC)
No. 14 seeds: UNCG (South), Cleveland State (Horizon), Abilene Christian (Southland), Liberty (Atlantic Sun)
No.15 seeds: Vermont (East America), East 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

Abandoned: Indiana, North Texas, Seton Hall, State of South Dakota, Stanford, Wagner, State of Wright

Beginners: Bryant, State of Cleveland, Georgia Tech, Saint Louis, South Dakota, UConn, Western Kentucky

The first four out

Michigan State (13-10): NET / Pom: 77/63. vs Q1: 4-9. against 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 (in alphabetical order)
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. against 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



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