The 2020-2021 college basketball season was atypical for a number of reasons, the main one being the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, one of the other reasons the year was abnormal was the struggle of some of the typical blue-blooded teams.
Duke and Kentucky missed the NCAA tournament, and several other traditional powers have crept into the bubble. This list includes the likes of UNC, Michigan State, and Syracuse.
UNC is going to be a No. 8 seed after a solid finish in the ACC tournament helped them edge out some other tournament prospects to travel to Indiana. Syracuse was in a similar situation, although they didn’t make it as far in the ACC tournament as the UNC did and lost to a buzzer-beater in Virginia. They register as seeded 11, and this is the third time in the team’s last four appearances that Syracuse will be ranked in double digits. Meanwhile, Michigan State is an 11 seeded and will play in the top four for the first time in school history.
Of course, these programs are remarkable because they have three of the best coaches of all time in college basketball. Roy Williams, Tom Izzo and Jim Boeheim are the three most successful coaches in the March Madness field this year, so their teams always have a chance to upset and gain momentum.
How have the coaches done historically in the first round? And how have they done with lower ranked teams in the past? Here are the answers you need when looking to fill your 2021 March Madness bracket.
Roy Williams’ NCAA tournament record in the first round
For 18 years, Roy Williams has been the head coach of UNC. In 15 of those seasons, the Tar Heels have competed in the NCAA tournament. Williams’ record in March Madness is formidable. Between his time at UNC and Kansas, he had 77 wins, the second-most in NCAA history, and he won three national championships, all at UNC.
It’s not even the most amazing thing about Williams, though. What? How about the fact that in 29 NCAA tournament appearances, he’s never lost a game in the first round. Without fail, his teams have always made it to at least the second round of March Madness. In North Carolina, he went 15-0 in the first round and won first round games as a No.1-4 seed, as a No.6 seed and also n ° 8.
How UNC behaved like a low-ranking seed
So Williams was excellent to win in the first round. But how did he behave as a low-ranking seed? Well, his Tar Heels only made the tournament as a non-top-four seed on three occasions, twice as a No. 6 seed and once as a No. 6 seed. ° 8, so it’s a tiny sample. In each of those appearances, UNC won in the first round but lost in the second round.
It’s probably safe to expect the No.8 UNC to beat No.9 from Wisconsin, a team that has lost nine of their last 14 games, in the first round given Williams’ record in the round of 16. However, history says you shouldn’t. Expect the Tar Heels to deepen this tournament, especially with a possible second round game with Baylor looming. When Williams’ teams aren’t the cream of the crop, they just struggle to deliver in March.
Tom Izzo’s NCAA Tournament Record in the First Round
Izzo has been the Michigan State head coach since 1998 and led the Spartans to 23 NCAA tournament appearances. In his previous 22 years as a head coach, Izzo led the team to a 17-5 record in the first round.
In total, Izzo recorded 52 wins in March Madness with two national championship wins. He ranks fourth among active coaches in NCAA tournament wins behind Mike Krzyzewski, Williams and Jim Boeheim.
How Michigan State Behaved Like a Lower Seed
The Spartans had a lot more variability in their rankings under Izzo than the Tar Heels under Williams. The state of Michigan was ranked between No. 1 and No. 10 during Izzo’s time. The only exception is that they sort of never got the No. 8 seed under his leadership.
Unlike Williams, seeding doesn’t matter as much to Izzo’s Spartans. Seven times they have been ranked No.7 or worse in the tournament. Despite that, they have a 4-3 rating in the opening games during these campaigns. And when Izzo helped his team to victory, they have done extended races in the past.
Izzo may not be as sure of winning the Michigan State’s first-round game as Williams will be of winning North Carolina, especially since Michigan State is playing in the top four. first, but the point is that if the Spartans win early, they can heat up. They’re just slight favorites on UCLA in the 11th-seeded play-in game, but if they can win this game, they should have a good chance of upending BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Obviously nothing is guaranteed, but don’t sleep on the Spartans. Just because their seed is in double digits doesn’t mean they can’t score a win.
Jim Boeheim’s NCAA tournament record in the first round
If you think Williams and Izzo have been around for a long time, take a look at Boeheim’s story. He has been in Syracuse since 1976 and posted a 70.7 winning percentage during that time. And during the NCAA tournament, he was solid as well.
Boeheim posted a 23-5 record in the tournament’s first round, dating back to the tournament’s expansion to 64 teams in 1985. Like Izzo, his Orange team has been seeded a variety of different numbers ranging from seeded No. 1 to No 11. The only seed in this line that Syracuse has not been? No. 9.
How Syracuse Behaved Like a Lower-Rank Seed
The Madness Tournament in March 2021 marks the third time Syracuse has been a double-digit seed. The two previous times occurred in 2016 and 2018.
In 16, Boeheim led the Orange in a dream race to the Final Four as a 10 seed. They beat the seventh-seeded Dayton Flyers before facing two double-number seeds. , Middle Tennessee State and Gonzaga. They capped their Final Four run with a victory over Virginia before losing to UNC in the Final Four.
In 18, Syracuse was in the top four but beat Arizona State to start their race. They knocked down the No.6 seed of TCU Horned Frogs and beat the No.3 seed of Michigan State before losing to Duke in the Sweet 16.
These successes bode well for Syracuse, who could potentially win a big setback against San Diego State. It just goes to show that Boeheim’s teams are tough to play no matter where they’re ranked, so the Aztecs v Orange match could end up being one of the most exciting of the first round.