Gonzaga, Baylor Among Projected 1 Seeds in 2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket Preview

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2021, file photo, Gonzaga's Drew Timme, second from left, and Corey Kispert shake hands in the closing moments of Gonzaga's 76-58 win over Pacific in an NCAA college basketball game in Stockton, Calif. Gonzaga coach Mark Few isn't being asked questions about where his team should be seeded for next month's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Instead, the longtime coach is getting a different question with a little more than a month until Selection Sunday — does it make any sense for Gonzaga to compete in its conference tournament? (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

The NCAA tournament selection committee announced Saturday that Gonzaga would be the No. 1 overall seed if the 2021 edition of March Madness started today.

Baylor, Michigan and Ohio State would join the undefeated Bulldogs as the projected No. 1 seeds. Here's a look at the complete top 16, via Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Gonzaga's seeding is often questioned as the NCAA tournament approaches because of its lack of competition in the West Coast Conference compared to the gauntlet top teams in power conferences often face, but there's no doubt the Zags (19-0) deserve the top slot so far this season.

They scored wins over Iowa (No. 3 at the time of the meeting), Kansas (No. 6), West Virginia (No. 11) and Virginia (No. 16) during the non-conference portion of their schedule, which more than offsets the fact that the WCC doesn't feature another ranked team this year.

The Bulldogs, who've become a national powerhouse during the 22-year tenure of head coach Mark Few, are now seeking their first championship. They reached the Elite Eight four times and made it to the title game in 2017 before falling short against North Carolina.

In late January, Few was quick to brush aside talk about a potential unbeaten run to the national championship:

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"That's getting a little ahead of ourselves, isn't it? I mean, don't get me wrong; we're good. We're talented. I really like coaching this team, and I think we're tough to play against. But so is Baylor; so is Villanova; so is Texas; so is Michigan. The Virginia team we beat in December is not the Virginia team that Tony [Bennett] will put on the floor in March. Villanova's probably got the best win of anyone—winning at Texas. But heck, this is fun. I'm enjoying the ride."

Baylor (17-0) is the nation's only other undefeated team, but the Bears have seen their last five games postponed because of the Big 12's COVID-19 guidelines.

They're scheduled to return Feb. 20 against Oklahoma State, and there isn't a ton of wiggle room left in the schedule with the conference tournament slated to start March 10.

It'll put a lot of pressure of head coach Scott Drew and his staff to get the team back playing at its peak before March Madness gets underway.

KenPom's rankings place Gonzaga and Baylor, Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, well ahead of the rest of the pack.

The difference in adjusted efficiency margin between the Bears and No. 3 Michigan (6.69) is almost the same as the gap between the Wolverines and No. 17 Florida State (6.49).

Yet, despite there being two clear favorites at this stage, there are no guarantees in the NCAA tournament.