The 2021 NCAA tournament is finally here. The first round of March Madness matches will begin on Thursday, which means you only have a few hours to submit support to this person in the office who runs the pool every year and sends a dozen emails about it in the process.
At Sporting News, we’ve put together a lot of content to help prepare you to make relatively informed decisions when filling your niche – and to enjoy the tournament in general.
Here’s a roundup of our March Madness predictions, regional overviews, upset picks, tournament odds and more to guide you through the NCAA tournament.
MADNESS OF MARCH: Get your printable NCAA tournament bracket
March 2021 Madness Printable Media
You can get a printable NCAA tournament material here to fill out before and during the tournament. Sporting News will continue to update support as matches are played.
Download the Sporting News NCAA Tournament printable material (PDF) by clicking on the image above.
Who will win the NCAA tournament in 2021?
Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois have the best odds of winning March Madness in 2021, according to the bookmaker FanDuel. It makes sense – they’re the No.1 four seeds – and the undefeated Bulldogs will be a popular choice in many groups to win their first national championship.
The second tier of Iowa, Houston, Alabama and Ohio State is a slightly more devious bet to win it all, but they still have the high-end talent to spill the chalk.
A team ranked 3 or lower has only won the NCAA tournament five times since 1990, but it’s still possible – especially in a season filled with as much uncertainty as this one. The lowest seed to win the NCAA tournament was No.8 Villanova in 1985.
March Madness odds 2021
You can see the opening odds for the entire field of 68 here.
March Madness 2021 Range Predictions
It wouldn’t be enough for one expert to tell you who they think will win it all, so we’ve asked several writers to submit their NCAA tournament predictions to help you deflect the blame when your bracket bursts in the first round. Here are the experts’ picks for reaching the Final Four 2021 with links to their full analysis.
Mike DeCourcy: Gonzaga, Alabama, Purdue, Illinois
Bill bender: Gonzaga, Florida State, Ohio State, Illinois
Ryan fagan: Gonzaga, Texas, State of Ohio, State of Oklahoma
Matt Lutovsky: Gonzaga, Texas, Baylor, Illinois
Vinnie Iyer: Gonzaga, Michigan, Ohio State, Illinois
March madness shattered predictions
The upheavals of the NCAA tournament are never easy to predict. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be called March Madness. However, there are always at least a few underseeded teams each year that pull off a Upset or two on the first weekend and set off for a Cinderella run. It’s just a matter of finding them out.
Sporting News’ Bill Bender has dismantled his nine teams of sleepers most likely to cause annoyance in 2021.
Liberty (First round opponent: Oklahoma State -9.5): The Flames have won 12 straight games leading up to Big Dance, and that schedule is 82-16 over the past three seasons. Liberty had an upset 5-12 in 2019, and they have the guard play to make a run with Darius McGhee and Chris Parker. Liberty is one of six Division I teams that have averaged less than 10 turnovers per game. This effective game could easily lead to upheaval. This style could make him interesting against Oklahoma State and the winner of Tennessee-Oregon State. It’s a 5-12 upset that we love.
UC-Santa Barbara (Opponent of the first round: Creighton -6.5): The Gauchos have lost only one game since January 1. This is their first tournament appearance since 2011, but UC-Santa Barbara brings a seasoned squad that has won over 20 games each of the past four seasons under Joe Pasternack. Jaquori McLaughlin averages 16.2 points and 5.2 assists per game. They are a team capable of beating Creighton and challenging the winner from Virginia-Ohio. It’s the other upset 5-12 we love.
Winthop (Opponent of the first round: Villanova -6): The Eagles are back in the tournament for the first time since 2017, and this is the second appearance under ninth-year coach Pat Kelsey. Winthrop has four players who average double digits. Senior Chandler Vaudrin and rookie DJ Burns are productive in the position, and the Eagles rank in the top 10 nationwide rebounding as a result. It is a good formula to take in the tournament for a possible thwarted auction. Villanova is a tough game, but the presence of the post could make it interesting.
Breakdown of NCAA Support Regions
If simple choices aren’t your cup of tea, Mike DeCourcy has gone ahead and broken down the four regions of support for an in-depth analysis of best case scenarios, most likely upheavals, and more. We also have statistics and crossings that could decide each region.
West region: Shaken predictions, choice of the last four
East region: Shaken predictions, choice of the last four
South region: Shaken predictions, choice of the last four
Midwest region: Shaken predictions, choice of the last four
NCAA Tournament Odds (and Ends)
Play the odds: Know the story behind each seed when selecting your Final Four and Championship teams.
TeamRankings Tournament Prediction Tool: Use it to identify the most likely tournament winners and the most likely NCAA picks.
The best funniest names for your stand: Struggling to come up with a smart name for your medium? We have what you need.
More Sporting News March Madness News
Sporting News’ 2020-21 College Basketball All-Americans: SN’s Mike DeCourcy names the top 15 players for the 2020-2021 college basketball season.
Sports News Player of the Year: Luka Garza of Iowa became the first recipient of the award since … Michael Jordan.
Sports News Coach of the Year: Juwan Howard of Michigan had to follow a legend, return to the program late, work during a pandemic, replace seniors at PG and C and do all of that without any coaching school.
Top 35 teams that didn’t win the NCAA tournament: Sporting News selects teams from the last three decades that have not awarded a title. Which was the best?
March Madness Cinderella players we’ll never forget: Stephen Curry is among the greatest Cinderella players in March Madness history, but he’s not No. 1 on our list.
Most hated college basketball players of all time: Sporting News takes a look at the most hated college hoop players of all time. Don’t worry, there are plenty of Duke’s on this list.
10 Best Schools with No Final Four Appearances: What are the best schools that have not made a Final Four since the start of the 64-team era in 1984-85?
Top college players who’ve never played in the NCAA tournament: Say hello to Ben Simmons, Noah Vonleh, Nerlens Noel, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and others who have watched March Madness on TV. It’s quite a list.
An oral history of Steph Curry’s escape in 2008: In 2008, a little-known Davidson baby sitter completely took over the NCAA tournament.
Upset city: Relive the wildest opening venue in NCAA tournament history.