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March Madness Finals Predictions: Field-of-68 Screening for 2021 NCAA Tournament

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Selection Sunday for the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has arrived.

The 68-team peloton has taken shape throughout the conference tournament week, and Sunday’s schedule will complete it with five tournament finals. Support has gone from seed # 1 to bubble over the past five days, and SN has followed all the action with daily updates.

AFTER: Automatic auction tracking

Here’s a look at Sporting News’ field of 68 updated ahead of the selection on Sunday.

March Madness Fork Predictions for the 2021 NCAA Tournament

Seeds n ° 1 projected

  • ** Gonzaga 26-0 (west coast)
  • Baylor 22-2
  • Illinois 22-6 (Big Ten)
  • Michigan 20-4

Lowdown: Will Michigan forward Isaiah Livers’ foot injury influence the selection committee? The Wolverines lost 68-67 to Ohio State in the Big Ten semifinals and at a minimum will reverse places with Illinois ahead of the tournament. Michigan has lost three of its last five games. That said, he should keep the last No.1 seed.

Screened n ° 2 seeds

  • Ohio State 21-8
  • Alabama 23-6 (SEC)
  • Houston 23-3 (American)
  • Iowa 21-8

Lowdown: Houston, Ohio State and Alabama all play Sunday, but it will be difficult for either of them to pass that No.1 line. Ohio State secured a No.2 seed with a win over rival Michigan, and the Buckeyes could be drawn into a loose conversation as a No.1 seed given they would be 3-2 against the Wolverines and Illini. Alabama is also expected to remain No.2 after hanging out against Tennessee in a 73-68 SEC semi-final thriller. It didn’t hurt that Arkansas lost.

Screened n ° 3 seeds

  • ** Texas 19-7 (Big 12)
  • Arkansas 22-6
  • Oklahoma State 20-8
  • Kansas 20-8

Lowdown: It’s the Big 12 line. Texas is the conference tournament champion and therefore has a No. 3 seed. Oklahoma State, the Longhorns’ final opponent, will share that line. Kansas and Virginia have both left their conference tournaments because of COVID-19 testing, and the best case for both is that they can play in the first round on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how this uncertainty is factored into their seeds, but this line seems like the easy fix for KU.

Screened n ° 4 seeds

  • Florida State 16-6
  • West Virginia 18-9
  • Virginia 18-6
  • Purdue 18-9

Lowdown: Virginia and the state of Florida fall into this line following an ACC tournament that was hit by COVID-19. The Seminoles missed their chance to climb the No.3 line by losing the ACC Championship game to Georgia Tech.

Screened n ° 5 seeds

  • Villanova 16-6
  • Creighton 20-8
  • LSU 18-8
  • Tennesee 18-8

Lowdown: LSU has won seven of its last nine games heading into a clash with Alabama. Tennessee also gets that line after Colorado lost in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Creighton and Villanova missed opportunities to move up a row after losing to Georgetown in the Big East tournament.

Screened n ° 6 seeds

  • Wisconsin 17-12
  • Colorado 22-8
  • Texas Tech 17-10
  • USC 22-7

Lowdown: Texas Tech and Wisconsin have double-digit losses, but both will also benefit from the strength of their conferences to stay on that line. The Red Raiders and Badgers shouldn’t slide past a No.7.

Screened n ° 7 seeds

  • BYU 20-6
  • ** San Diego State 23-4 (Mountain West)
  • Oregon 20-6
  • North Carolina 18-10

Lowdown: This is the west coast line with BYU, Oregon and San Diego State. The Aztecs and Cougars are in the top 25 in KenPom. North Carolina could be a No.8 seed, but a strong performance in the ACC tournament, not to mention brand power, will put the Tar Heels on that line.

Screened n ° 8 seeds

  • ** Loyola Chicago 24-4 (MVC)
  • ** Georgia Tech 17-8 (ACC)
  • Connecticut 15-6
  • Oklahoma 15-10

Lowdown: Georgia Tech makes the jump to that line after winning the ACC tournament. The Ramblers are an interesting team; they could challenge a seed with the right game. Saint-Bonaventure could lose a bit if he loses to VCU in the Atlantic 10 Championship game.

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

Rest of the projections on the ground

No. 9 seeds: Clemson 16-7, Saint-Bonaventure 15-4 (A-10), Virginia Tech 15-6, Florida 14-9
No. 10 seeds: Missouri 17-9, Maryland 16-13, Rutgers 15-10, VCU 19-6
No 11 seeds: ** State of Oregon 17-12 (Pac-12), Louisville 13-7, State of Michigan 15-12, State of Utah * 20-8, Drake * 25-4
No. 12 seeds: ** North Texas 17-9 (C-USA), ** UC Santa Barbara 22-4 (Big West), ** Georgetown (Big East) 12-12, UCLA * 17-9, Syracuse * 16-9
No 13 seeds: ** Liberty 22-5 (A-Sun), ** Winthrop 23-1 (Big South), ** Ohio 16-7 (MAC), Colgate 12-7 (Patriot)
No. 14 seeds: ** UNC-Greensboro 20-8 (South), ** Morehead State 23-7 (Ohio Valley), ** Grand Canyon 17-6 (WAC), ** Washington East 15-7 (Big Sky)
No.15 seeds: ** Cleveland State 19-7 (Horizon), ** Iona 12-5 (MAAC), ** Oral Roberts 16-10 (Summit), ** Drexel 12-7 (Colonial)
No 16 seeds: ** Abilene Christian 23-4 (Southland), ** Hartford 15-8 (America East), ** Norfolk State * 15-7 (MEAC), ** Texas Southern * 16-8 (SWAC), ** Appalachian State * 17-11 (Sun Belt), ** Mount St. Mary’s * 12-10 (Northeast)

Teams in italics play on Sunday
* First four teams
** Teams that landed automatic bids

Last four in

  • Drake 25-4
  • Utah State 20-8
  • Syracuse 16-9
  • UCLA 17-9

Lowdown: This sets up a blue blood top four game between UCLA and Syracuse. Drake and Utah State are also in the game. All of these teams are fighting for Houston against Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

The first four out

  • Wichita State 16-5
  • Saint-Louis 14-6
  • Colorado State 18-6
  • Xavier 13-8

Lowdown: The state of Oregon and Georgetown eliminated the state of Wichita and St. Louis with surprise conference tournaments. The MWC Boise State and Colorado State teams won’t quite break through the 68-team field. Xavier burst his bubble with a loss to Seton Hall. Duke also stays outside looking inside.


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