March Madness 2021: Top Bracketology Predictions from Around the Web

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

March Madness 2021: Top Bracketology Predictions from Around the Web

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The NCAA men's basketball conference championship week is in full swing, which means March Madness is right around the corner. Top contenders are looking to win titles, bubble teams are hoping a few eye-catching wins will extend their seasons, and smaller schools are looking to punch their tickets to the Big Dance by winning their respective conferences. 

    Selection Sunday is March 14, and the NCAA men's tournament begins with the four play-in games on Thursday, March 18. With those dates drawing closer, lets take a look at some of the experts' latest bracketology predictions.

Picks from ESPN's Joe Lunardi

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com

    No. 1 seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

    Last four in: Drake, Boise State, Colorado State, Xavier

    First four out: Utah State, Saint Louis, Syracuse, Memphis

        

    A spoiler for the remainder of the slideshow: a clear consensus has formed for the No. 1 seeds. All the experts have Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan and Illinois snagging the top four spots right now.

    The undefeated Zags survived a scare and won the WCC title on Tuesday night. They were down 53-41 to BYU at halftime, but thanks to a game-high 23 points from Jalen Suggs, the Bulldogs rallied in the second half to get an 88-78 win. Gonzaga has undoubtedly wrapped up the tournament's No. 1 overall seed.

    This highly talented squad, which ranks first in the nation in scoring at 92.5 points per game, will give head coach Mark Few another fine shot at winning an elusive national championship. Gonzaga's best tournament run was in 2017, when they lost to North Carolina in the final. 

USA Today's Shelby Mast and Scott Gleeson

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    Jerry Larson/Associated Press

    Shelby Mast and Scott Gleeson, USA Today

    No. 1 seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

    Last four in: Drake, Colorado State, Boise State, Xavier

    First four out: St. John's, Utah State, Syracuse, Saint Louis

         

    Gonzaga has nothing left to do but prepare for the Big Dance. Meanwhile, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan all play later in the week in their respective conference tournaments.

    Both Michigan and Illinois are in the Big Ten, a tough conference where Mast and Gleeson see an opportunity for a late shake-up at the top: 

    "Where it can get interesting is in the Big Ten Tournament for projected No. 2 seeds Iowa and Ohio State. The Hawkeyes (20-7) have won seven of eight, whereas the Buckeyes (18-8) have lost four in a row. Still, both have profiles that could be worthy of a No. 1 seed with a Big Ten Tournament title attached to it."

    If Michigan falls flat in the tournament, they could get leapfrogged by Illinois. The Fighting Illini beat the Wolverines by 23 points on March 2. Even if Baylor stumbled in the Big 12 tournament, it shouldn't drop them out of the top four. The Bears have one loss on the season and are second in the nation in scoring with 85.3 points per game. Their spot is safe and sound.

Picks from CBS Sports' Jerry Palm

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    Aaron Doster/Associated Press

    Jerry Palm, CBS Sports

    No. 1 seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan

    Last four in: Xavier, VCU, Boise State, Drake

    First four out: Saint Louis, Syracuse, Ole Miss, Utah State

        

    Palm has the same top four as everyone else, so let's talk more about the teams on the bubble. Palm and the rest of the experts in this article have Drake and Xavier making the tournament right now. Drake missed out on clinching a tournament bid with a loss to Loyola Chicago in the Missouri Valley Conference title game and will have to hope a 25-4 overall record is enough to get a spot.

    Xavier has some more work to do in the Big East tournament. The Musketeers play Butler on Wednesday and will need to avoid a loss there to have a shot at hearing their names called on Selection Sunday

    Colorado State is on everyone's list except for Palm, who has VCU as one of his last four in and Colorado State instead in a more comfortable position with a No. 11 seed. Lunardi, Miller and Mast/Gleeson have VCU, who boast one of the top scorers in the country in Nah'Shon Hyland (19.4 points per game), earning a No. 10 seed or a No. 11 seed. 

Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Kerry Miller, Bleacher Report

    No. 1 seeds: Gonzaga, Baylor, Michigan, Illinois

    Last five in: Wichita State, Colorado State, Drake, Utah State, Xavier 

    First five out: Boise State, Syracuse, Saint Louis, Seton Hall, Ole Miss

         

    Miller is going against the grain and has Utah State sneaking into the tournament, whereas the other experts don't see the Aggies getting in at this point. Utah State will play either UNLV or Air Force in the Mountain West tournament on Thursday, a must-win game if they are to have a chance at getting in on the March Madness action.

    Boise State and Colorado State are both in the Mountain West and will be looking to pad their own resumes this week. Miller has Boise State as his first team out, so they'll be doing all they can to take down Nevada on Wednesday. It's going to be a tough task for the Broncos; they lost back-to-back games against the Wolfpack in February. 

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