March Madness 2021: Ranking the 68 best teams in the NCAA Tournament from Gonzaga on down

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If it’s Gonzaga or the area, take the area.

That’s 67 vs. one.

You’d nonetheless have to consider it, although.

If it’s Gonzaga or another person from the area, that’s a simple reply. Gonzaga has been the best workforce in the nation, one among the best in a number of years. That doesn’t imply it’s infallible. Hopefully everybody realized their lesson with the final of couple infallible teams. But the Zags are the workforce with the best alternative to win the NCAA championship. Just not the solely workforce.

NCAA BRACKET PICKS: DeCourcy (Gonzaga) | Bender (Illinois) | Fagan (Gonzaga)

And so we once more are rating the 68 teams that type the 2021 NCAA Tournament area. Having been unable to do that train a 12 months in the past, we really feel a little bit out of shape, nevertheless it’s nice to have the ability to do it as soon as extra.

As all the time, these rankings are based mostly not on regular-season accomplishments or achievements, or on the committee’s seedings or my very own, however on the probability of every particular person workforce successful the six video games mandatory to say the NCAA championship.

Which means elements reminiscent of a workforce’s draw are necessary, as are having the qualities one typically finds in a champion: a high-end offense and protection, normally one among the 20 simplest in every class; authentic NBA expertise, ideally so apparent that a number of gamers is taken into account a first-round choose; a participant with the means, both from the wing or the level, to defeat a well-designed protection simply with particular person means and, ideally, a coach who’s been deep into the match on prior events and understands the challenges.

Here they’re, 1-68:

1. Gonzaga. Jalen Suggs’ entry into the program has given the Zags one thing that even their best teams of the previous didn’t possess. Unless it seems they play Oklahoma State in the championship recreation, it’s a certainty that the Zags will probably be represented in every spherical by the single best expertise on the flooring. They’ve had superb gamers who’ve develop into superb professionals earlier than. But Suggs is at the subsequent degree past the likes of Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura and Dan Dickau and even Adam Morrison. He confirmed in the comeback win over BYU in the West Coast Conference championship that he will be the participant to hold the workforce via the most troublesome moments.

2. Illinois. The Fighting Illini had been introduced with the most agreeable bracket conceivable, aside from that No. 4 seed that’s exhausting to think about. It’s fairly clear that the committee used O.Okay. State’s poor analytics towards the Cowboys (No. 30 in KenPom, No. 29 in NET) in the seeding course of. But their report is great they usually beat nice teams. The Sweet 16 Ayo vs. Cade recreation, presuming it happens, will probably be one among the best reveals of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

3. Baylor. The Bears nonetheless are amongst the best prospects to win this championship, regardless that they’ve not been defending at their customary degree going again to mid-January. Their offense can overcome quite a bit, and it’s all the time doable that Baylor might return to its harmful methods.

4. Oklahoma State. Can you win a nationwide title with one participant? No. Can one participant win you a nationwide title? That’s a special query, and Cade (*68*) is a type of few who can present an affirmative reply. He isn’t a whole participant; his subject with ball-handling is amongst the causes the Cowboys fared poorly in superior metrics and wound up with a No. 4 seed as a substitute of the No. 3 they earned. But he has all kinds of abilities that may change a recreation. He’ll have to vary three or 4 to get the Cowboys a trophy. But it might occur.

5. Alabama. Probably stated this earlier than, someplace, however the weirdest factor about the Crimson Tide is that they’re best recognized for his or her offense however are higher on D. But level guard Jahvon Quinerly is changing into a particular participant, or maybe recovering all of what had made him an elite prospect as a excessive schooler. Winning the title with a workforce that attracts a lot of its offense from 3-point distance isn’t unprecedented. The 2018 Villanova workforce did precisely that. But its particular person personnel had been higher suited to individually seizing moments, the method Mikal Bridges did towards the Crimson Tide in their second-round recreation.

6. Michigan. The Wolverines may need been the second or third workforce on this listing had been they intact. But they’re not. Losing Isaiah Livers for the foreseeable future is a blow that will probably be troublesome to beat at the Final Four degree. But they will get there, particularly if sophomore wing Franz Wagner elevates his offensive recreation to a degree he can attain, however solely sometimes has.

7. Texas. There is not any workforce with extra dynamic massive males than the Longhorns. They’ve struggled at instances with consistency, however they’ve the expertise to win this.

8. Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ protection continues to progress, and it’s gotten adequate that it figures to not be what separates them from a Final Four or nationwide title. No, what figures to serve that objective is Gonzaga standing in the high half of the West area.

9. Ohio State. The Buckeyes could possibly be nationwide champions — in the event that they’re lucky sufficient to not take care of any of these teams on the market that rely on dimension to make a distinction. It’s simply exhausting for the Buckeyes, as they’re constructed, to prevail towards opponents with a Luka Garza or Kofi Cockburn or Hunter Dickinson. In phrases of avoiding high-level inside scorers, the Buckeyes’ regional draw isn’t an enormous drawback.

10. Purdue. The Boilermakers have dimension, depth, versatility and an incredible coach. What they don’t have, with Sasha Stefanovic solely 9-for-37 in his previous 9 video games, is the requisite 3-point capturing to win six video games. They’ve been 7-2 throughout that droop, although, which incorporates wins over Wisconsin and Ohio State, so they may have a Final Four in them.

BRACKET TIPS: KenPom | Play the odds | Idiot’s guide

11. Arkansas

12. West Virginia

13. Kansas

14. Texas Tech.

15. Florida State

16. Houston

17. LSU. It’s unimaginable to not be impressed by the offensive means on show with Trendon Watford, Cameron Thomas and Javonte Smart. If they defended at a B-plus degree, they’d be a powerful Final Four contender. As it stands, they’re solely an No. 8 seed.

18. Virginia

19. UConn

20. USC

21. Villanova

22. San Diego State. The Aztecs’ best workforce in perpetually didn’t get the probability to play in the NCAA Tournament. The reward for placing collectively one other nice season? Having to take care of the Syracuse zone in the first spherical. Look, there’s no Hakim Warrick in this protection, however extra completed teams than S.D. State have confronted middling Syracuse zones and gone residence early from the match. It’s simply exhausting to organize for it when so few teams make use of a scheme fairly prefer it.

23. Tennessee

24. Oregon

25. North Carolina. I’d like North Carolina higher to make a Sweet 16 push in the event that they hadn’t performed themselves into an 8/9 recreation. The Tar Heels’ dimension might trigger issues for lots of opponents, and their guards are gaining the expertise essential to in the future be elite. The Tar Heels will probably be one of the high teams in subsequent 12 months’s preseason rankings. Getting as a lot expertise as doable in this 12 months’s match will solely assist in pursuit of the 2022 title.

26. Wisconsin

27. Colorado

28. Creighton

29. Rutgers

30. BYU

31. Florida

32. Maryland

33. Clemson

34. Oklahoma

35. St. Bonaventure. There is a lot to admire about this program, this coach. It’s astounding that Mark Schmidt hasn’t gotten a extra outstanding job given what he’s achieved with the Bonnies. They’re again in the NCAA Tournament for the third time since his arrival in 2007. It’s not straightforward to get to the NCAA Tournament from the Atlantic 10, and it’s doubly robust at St. Bonaventure.


36. Missouri

37. Georgia Tech.

38. Loyola

39. Virginia Tech

40. VCU

41. Syracuse

42. Georgetown

43. Michigan State

44. UCLA. The Bruins usually are not the Forty fourth-best workforce in this match. They could be the Forty fourth-best at closing video games, however they’ve performed some superb basketball and had been solely eradicated from Pac-12 regular-season title rivalry on the last day. But like First Four opponent Michigan State (and each Drake and Wichita State) it means having to win seven video games to win the nationwide championship. As unlikely as it’s to win a title from an 11 seed, it’s extra so when you find yourself required to win an additional recreation.

45. Utah State

46. Winthrop

47. Drake

48. Ohio U

49. UCSB

50. Oregon State. Saturday of championship week was one among the wildest in the sport’s historical past, producing two major-conference “bid stealers” in a six-hour interval. The Beavers have been enjoying higher, although, with seven wins in their previous 9 video games. Maybe I’m underestimating them.

51. Liberty.

52. Wichita State

53. UNC Greensboro

54. Colgate

55. North Texas

56. Abilene Christian. The 13 and 14 seeds in this match are uncommonly sturdy. There had been only a few upsets in the conferences that produced such teams as Abilene Christian, which implies the teams seeded No. 4 and No. 3 had higher be able to go. Like Texas, which faces this 19-4 squad that ranked 74th in the NET and misplaced by solely seven to Texas Tech.

57. Eastern Washington

58. Morehead State

59. Iona. Rick Pitino, again from his exile to teaching professional hoops in Greece, again in the NCAA Tournament. There is not any method Alabama’s coaches are enthusiastic about the concept of getting to take care of somebody who has a 54-19 March Madness report and two NCAA championships.

15 vs. 2  | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

60. Cleveland State

61. Oral Roberts

62. Grand Canyon

63. Hartford

64. Drexel

65. Appalachian State

66. Norfolk State

67. Mount St. Mary’s

68. Texas Southern. Johnny Jones, usually derided throughout his tenure at LSU and finally eliminated from the job, proved that he’s a succesful coach by taking his third completely different program to the NCAA Tournament. This journey received’t final lengthy, however the Tigers will probably be right here.

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