Bracketology 2021: Latest Expert Predictions for Top Four Seeds

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 14, 2021

Illinois' Andre Curbelo, left, Ayo Dosunmu, center and Kofi Cockburn (21) hug as they leave the court following an 82-71 win over Iowa in an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten Conference tournament in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Baylor and Michigan have been two of the best men's college basketball teams in the country this season. However, neither could win its conference tournament. The Bears fell to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tourney, while the Wolverines lost to Ohio State in the semis of the Big Ten tourney.

Many NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket projections had Baylor and Michigan as No. 1 seeds for March Madness. And that hasn't appeared to change despite both falling short during Championship Week. But it will be up to the selection committee to decide where these teams will be placed in the bracket, which will be revealed Sunday evening.

March Madness is right around the corner, and four teams will soon find out that their potential paths to the national championship will begin as No. 1 seeds. Bleacher Report has all your college hoops needs covered as the start of the tournament continues to get closer:

Bracket Challenge Game – Join the Bleacher Report Group

Start Your 2021 Bracket

Watch Selection Show Live

With only five conference tournament championship games remaining, here's what the bracketology experts are predicting for the No. 1 seeds for this year's NCAA tournament. 


Expert Predictions for No. 1 Seeds

ESPN's Joe Lunardi: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan

CBS Sports' Jerry Palm: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan

Bleacher Report's Kerry Miller: Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan

It appears that the experts are still high on Baylor and Michigan, even though each program fell two wins short of winning its conference tournament. However, the teams proved their worth throughout the regular season.

Baylor has lost only two games this season, and both were against quality opponents (Kansas and Oklahoma State). The Bears are 22-2 and won the Big 12 regular-season conference championship for the first time in program history.

Considering Baylor remained a No. 1 seed in bracket projections after losing in the Big 12 tourney semifinals on Friday, it appears to be locked in—Lunardi, for one, believes it is, as he shared that opinion during his final bracketology update late Saturday night.

Michigan has lost three of its past five games, but it won one game at the Big 10 tournament, taking down Maryland in the quarterfinals. The Wolverines couldn't beat Ohio State for a second time, though, and the Buckeyes advanced to the championship game, where they will take on Illinois on Sunday.

If Ohio State beats Illinois and wins the Big Ten tournament, would that be enough for the Buckeyes to earn a No. 1 seed? Lunardi doesn't believe so, as he tweeted that he has his No. 1 seeds locked in order no matter what happens Sunday.

It makes sense for Illinois to be a No. 1 seed, as the Fighting Illini have won 13 of their past 14 games, which includes victories over Rutgers and Iowa in the Big Ten tournament. They also own wins over both Michigan and Ohio State.

There appears to be a consensus that Gonzaga will be the No. 1 overall seed for the NCAA tournament, which should come as no surprise. The Bulldogs are the only undefeated team in the country, winning their first 26 games. They notched some quality non-conference victories, rolled through West Coast Conference play and won the WCC tournament championship.

If Gonzaga ends the season undefeated, it would be the first team to win the national championship and go unbeaten since Indiana in 1975-76.

"We finally acknowledged this is a big deal," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said after the WCC tourney title game, per John Marshall of the Associated Press. "It puts us in some incredible company. It's a heck of an accomplishment."

While No. 1 seeds don't always win the national championship, they have done more often than not since the tournament expanded to a 64-team field in 1985. Since then, a top seed has won the national title in 22 of 35 tourneys, per Eric Vander Voort of NCAA.com.

With the expected No. 1 seeds likely to be confirmed Sunday, Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois and Michigan will have history on their side as they begin their runs to the national championship.