Printable NCAA Tournament Bracket 2021: Easy-to-Print Sheet with Tournament Tips

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few directs his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Just take a second to look at the bracket in all its glory.

As a collective of fans, we missed out on one of the most beautiful things in all of sports last year when there were no brackets after the 2020 NCAA men's and women's tournaments were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While that meant no office pools, no poring over advanced stats to find the perfect upset pick and no weekends of nonstop basketball, the bracket has made its triumphant return.

The 2021 NCAA men's field is set on this Selection Sunday, so fire up those printers and get ready to fill in a bracket that is two years in the making. With that in mind, here is a printable bracket and a few tips to follow before filling it out.


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Printable Bracket


2021 NCAA Men's Tournament Bracket

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Bracket Tips

Don't Go All Chalk

First of all, going all chalk is boring.

Unless you are an actual fan of one of the No. 1 seeds or attended school there, rooting for the powerhouses goes against the very nature of March Madness itself. The tournament is known for said madness because of the upsets and how entertaining they can be to even the most casual fans.

There is also logical reasoning behind the decision not to go full chalk.

All four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four together just once, which happened in 2008. Three No. 1 seeds have made it to the same Final Four just five times throughout the tournament's history.

The suggestion here is to back Gonzaga, which is an absolute powerhouse that has not lost a single game and proved itself against Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia and Virginia outside of WCC play.

However, pick teams outside of just the other No. 1 seeds to join the Bulldogs in the Final Four.


Pick a No. 7 Seed to Back

This is about the history of the No. 2 seeds more than the No. 7 seeds.

As Joe Osborne of OddsShark pointed out, all four No. 2 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 just twice since 1997. The second round almost always spells the end of the road for at least one No. 2 seed, and this year's tournament will likely follow suit.

It may seem like there is a wide gap between the Nos. 2 and 7 seeds when looking at the bracket, but, in theory, these are the Nos. 5-8 teams and Nos. 25-28 teams in the country when dividing the entire group of teams into four regions.

Many fans wouldn't even think twice about the No. 25 team in the Top 25 beating the No. 8 team on a neutral floor during a midweek game in February, so don't be stunned when a No. 7 seed defeats a No. 2 seed in the second round.

Recent history suggests at least one of those No. 2 seeds will not see the Sweet 16.


Pick a Double-Digit Seed to Reach the Sweet 16

Like the suggestion to avoid going all chalk, this one has logical and emotional reasoning behind it.

From the emotional side, it is easy to form something of an attachment to a first-round underdog pick that actually comes through when filling out a bracket. Such a pick means bragging rights and an early lead in bracket pools.

However, that attachment loses some of its sentimentality if you just have to turn around and cheer against said underdog playing a powerhouse from a major conference in the second round to preserve your bracket. Picking a double-digit seed to advance to at least the Sweet 16 keeps the magic going at least one round longer with the new underdog you backed.

Recent history also suggests the Sweet 16 is more of a floor than a ceiling for at least one double-digit seed.

Oregon advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed in 2019, Loyola advanced to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2018, Syracuse advanced to the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed in 2018, Xavier advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 11 seed in 2017 and Syracuse advanced to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed in 2016.

Find a double-digit seed and get ready to fall in love with an underdog.