Saturday, May 21

March Madness 2021: Ranking of the 68 Best Teams in the NCAA Tournament from Gonzaga Down

If it’s Gonzaga or the country, get out in the country.

That’s 67 against one.

However, you would still have to think about it.

If it’s Gonzaga or someone else from the field, that’s an easy answer. Gonzaga has been the best team in the nation, one of the best in several years. That does not mean that it is infallible. Hopefully everyone has learned their lesson with the latter of the two foolproof teams. But the Zags are the team with the best chance of winning the NCAA championship. It just isn’t the only team.

NCAA SUPPORT PICK: DeCourcy (Gonzaga) | Bender (Illinois) | Fagan (Gonzaga)

And so we’re again qualifying the 68 teams that make up the 2021 NCAA Tournament field. Having not been able to do this drill a year ago, we felt a little out of practice, but it’s great to be able to do it one more time.

As always, these rankings are not based on regular season accomplishments or accomplishments, or committee positions or mine, but rather the probability that each team will win the six games necessary to claim the NCAA championship.

Which means that factors like a team’s draw are important, as is having the qualities generally found in a champion: a high-level offense and defense, generally one of the 20 most effective in each category; Legitimate NBA talent, preferably so obvious that one or more players are considered a first-round pick; a player with the ability, either from the wing or from the point, to defeat a well-designed defense with only individual skill and preferably a coach who has been involved in the tournament on previous occasions and who understands the challenges.

Here they are, 1-68:

1. Gonzaga. Jalen Suggs’ entry into the show has given the Zag something that not even their best teams of the past possessed. Unless they happen to play Oklahoma State in the championship game, the Zags are sure to be represented in each round by the best talent on the court. They have had very good players who have become very good professionals before. But Suggs is on the next level beyond Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura and Dan Dickau and even Adam Morrison. He showed in the comeback win over BYU in the West Coast Conference championship that he can be the player to lead the team through the toughest moments.

2. Illinois. The Fighting Illini were presented with the nicest draw imaginable, save for that No. 4 seed which is hard to imagine. It’s pretty clear that the committee used OK State’s poor analysis against the Cowboys (No. 30 at KenPom, No. 29 at NET) in the qualifying process. But their record is excellent and they beat great teams. The game Sweet 16 Ayo vs. Cade, assuming it happens, will be one of the best shows of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

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3. Baylor. The Bears are still among the best prospects to win this championship, even though they haven’t been defending at their usual level since mid-January. His offense can outlast a lot, and it’s always possible for Baylor to go back on his destructive ways.

4. State of Oklahoma. Can you win a national title with one player? No. Can a player win you a national title? That’s a different question, and Cade Cunningham is one of the few who can give an affirmative answer. He is not a complete player; His ball handling problem is one reason the Cowboys fared poorly on advanced metrics and ended up with a No. 4 seed instead of the No. 3 they posted. But he has a wide variety of talents that can change a game. He’ll have to trade three or four to get the Cowboys a trophy. But it could happen.

5. Alabama. He’s probably said this before somewhere, but the weirdest thing about Crimson Tide is that they are better known for their offense but better at D. But point guard Jahvon Quinerly is becoming a special player, or maybe taking everything back. that he had. an elite prospect as a high school student. Winning the title with a team that draws in much of their offense from three-point range is not unprecedented. The Villanova 2018 team did exactly that. But his individual staff were more prepared to seize moments individually, as Mikal Bridges did against Crimson Tide in their second-round game.

6. Michigan. The Wolverines could have been the second or third team on this list if they were intact. But they are not. Losing Isaiah Livers for the foreseeable future is a blow that will be hard to beat at the Final Four level. But they can get there, especially if sophomore winger Franz Wagner raises his offensive game to a level he can reach, but only occasionally does.

7. Texas. There is no team with more dynamic big men than the Longhorns. They have struggled consistently at times, but they have the talent to win this.

8. Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ defense continues to progress, and it has become good enough not to be what separates them from a Final Four or a national title. No, what seems to serve that purpose is that Gonzaga is located in the upper half of the West region.

9. State of Ohio. The Buckeyes could be national champions, if they’re lucky enough not to deal with any of those teams that rely on size to make a difference. It’s just hard for the Buckeyes, as built, to prevail against opponents with a Luka Garza or Kofi Cockburn or Hunter Dickinson. In terms of avoiding high-level inside scorers, the Buckeyes’ regional draw isn’t a big deal.

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10. Purdue. Boilermakers have size, depth, versatility, and a tremendous coach. What they don’t have, with Sasha Stefanovic just 9 of 37 in his last nine games, is the three-point shooting requirement to win six games. However, they have been 7-2 during that slump, which includes victories over Wisconsin and Ohio State, so they could have a Final Four.

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11. Arkansas

12. West Virginia

13. Kansas

14. Texas Tech.

15. State of Florida

16. Houston

17. LSU. It is impossible not to be impressed by the offensive ability displayed with Trendon Watford, Cameron Thomas and Javonte Smart. If they defended at a B-plus level, they would be a strong Final Four contender. As is, they are just a number 8 seed.

18. Virginia

19. UConn

20. USC

21. Villanova

22. State of San Diego. The best team of the Aztecs in eternity did not have the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. The reward for putting together another great season? Having to deal with the Syracuse area in the first round. Look, there is no Hakim Warrick in this defense, but more successful teams than SD State have played Syracuse’s middle zones and gone home early from the tournament. It’s hard to prepare for it when so few teams employ a scheme like this.

23. Tennessee

24. Oregon

25. North Carolina. I’d like North Carolina to do a Sweet 16 push if they hadn’t played an 8/9 game themselves. The size of the Tar Heels could cause problems for many opponents, and their guards are gaining the experience necessary to one day be elite. The Tar Heels will be one of the best teams in next year’s preseason standings. Gaining as much experience as possible from this year’s tournament will only help in the quest for the 2022 title.

26. Wisconsin

27. Colorado

28. Creighton

29. Rutgers

30. BYU

31. Florida

32. Maryland

33. Clemson

34. Oklahoma

35. Saint Bonaventure. There is so much to admire about this show, this coach. It’s amazing that Mark Schmidt hasn’t landed a more prominent job given what he’s accomplished with the Bonnies. They are back in the NCAA Tournament for the third time since their arrival in 2007. Getting to the NCAA Tournament is not easy from the Atlantic 10, and it is doubly difficult at St. Bonaventure.

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36. Missouri

37. Georgia Tech.

38. Loyola

39. Virginia Tech

40. VCU

41. Syracuse

42. Georgetown

43. State of Michigan

44. UCLA. The Bruins are not the 44th best team in this tournament. They may be the top 44 in closing games, but they’ve played good basketball and were only knocked out of the Pac-12 regular-season title contest the next day. But like the opponent of the First Four Michigan State (and both Drake and Wichita State), it means having to win seven games to win the national championship. As unlikely as it is to win a title with an 11 seed, it is even more so when you are required to win an extra game.

45. State of Utah

46. ​​Winthrop

47. Drake

48. Ohio U

49. UCSB

50. State of Oregon. The Saturday of championship week was one of the wildest in the history of the sport, producing two major conference “stealers” in a six-hour period. However, the Beavers have been playing better, with seven wins in their last nine games. Perhaps I am underestimating them.

51. Freedom.

52. State of Wichita

53. UNC Greensboro

54. Colgate

55. North Texas

56. Abilene Christian. The 13th and 14th seeds in this tournament are extraordinarily strong. There were very few surprises in the conferences that produced teams like Abilene Christian, which means the No. 4 and No. 3 seeded teams should be ready to go. Like Texas, facing this 19-4 squad that ranked 74th in the RED and lost by just seven to Texas Tech.

57. Eastern Washington

58. Morehead State

59. Iona. Rick Pitino, back from exile to train professional hoops in Greece, back in the NCAA Tournament. There’s no way Alabama coaches are excited about having to deal with someone who has a 54-19 March Madness record and two NCAA championships.

15 against 2 | 14 against 3 | 13 against 4 | 12 against 5

60. State of Cleveland

61. Oral Roberts

62. Grand Canyon

63. Hartford

64. Drexel

65. Appalachian State

66. Norfolk State

67. Mount Santa Maria

68. South Texas. Johnny Jones, often ridiculed during his tenure at LSU and eventually retired from work, proved himself a capable coach by bringing his third different program to the NCAA Tournament. This trip won’t last long, but the Tigers will be here.

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