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NCAA Bracketology: 2021 First Look from Streaking the Lawn

Our first bracket of the year and the Hoos are looking good

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NCAA Basketball: Final Four-City Scenes Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

We’re almost to March, so no better time to dust off the bracket. The bracket is a challenge this season, but that should provide for plenty to talk about as we approach Selection Sunday.

West and East Regionals

West Regional East Regional
West Regional East Regional
1. Gonzaga (1) 1. Ohio St. (4)
16. Morgan State / James Madison 16. Texas State
9. LSU 9. VCU
8. Oklahoma St. 8. BYU
5. Texas 5. Missouri
12. Toledo 12. Maryland / Colorado St.
13. Marshall 13. Abilene Christian
4. Tennessee 4. Oklahoma
3. West Virginia 3. Florida St.
14. Winthrop 14. Furman
11. Seton Hall 11. UCLA
6. Virginia Tech 6. Rutgers
7. Texas Tech 7. Purdue
10. St. Bonaventure 10. Drake
15. Vermont 15. Siena
2. Iowa 2. Alabama

South and Midwest Regionals

South Regional West Regional
South Regional West Regional
1. Baylor (2) 1. Michigan (3)
16. Weber State 16. Prairie View A&M / Bryant
9. Xavier 9. Oregon
8. Colorado 8. Loyola Chicago
5. Wisconsin 5. Kansas
12. Connecticut / Saint Louis 12. Wright State
13. Belmont 13. UC Santa Barbara
4. Houston 4. Villanova
3. Creighton 3. USC
14. Liberty 14. Colgate
11. Richmond 11. Indiana
6. Arkansas 6. Clemson
7. Louisville 7. Florida
10. San Diego St. 10. Minnesota
15. South Dakota State 15. Grand Canyon
2. Illinois 2. Virginia

Last Four Byes: Seton Hall, Richmond, UCLA, Indiana
Last Four In: Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado State, Saint Louis
First Four Out: Boise State, North Carolina, Penn State, SMU
Next Four Out: Utah State, Stanford, Ole Miss, Syracuse

Bracket Thoughts:

Gonzaga/Baylor and Everyone Else: It’s a worn out trope this season that Gonzaga and Baylor are in a class by themselves and while I won’t belabor the point, the numbers do bear that out. The difference between Baylor at number two and Michigan at number three is the same as the difference between Michigan and Alabama at number 6. To those that say Michigan is closing in on the top two, I just say pump the breaks.

UVA’s Tenuous Resume: To this point in the year (even with the Florida State loss), UVA has put together a sneaky good resume. While early season losses to San Francisco and (especially) Gonzaga threw people off the Cavalier scent, they have put themselves in good position for a two or three seed. But...the meat of the resume has me somewhat worried. Sure, wins at Clemson and Georgia Tech and at home against North Carolina are good resume builders in volume, the fact they have lost by double digits to the three best teams they’ve played raises an eyebrow. My model is based on volume and there is little to differentiate between wins and losses against number one or number fifty, so while I like Virginia, I could see the committee docking them for mostly beating up on good, not great competition.

Unbalanced Schedules: Every year, in conference and around the country a term often brought up is that of unbalanced schedules. It’s a challenge for the committee to assess the differential between a three-loss team from the Southern Conference and a ten-loss team from the Big Ten. This year however, ten losses in conference likely puts you under 0.500 as a whole. Teams usually have a 10-12 non-conference slate to rack up wins meaning ten losses in conference still puts them in the 20-12 range and a solid 9-10 seed. So how do you assess a team like Maryland who has nine losses in the Big Ten leading to an 11-10 record? I have them in for now and as long as they don’t drop too many more games, I imagine they’ll make the tournament. The NCAA has ruled that they are waiving the 0.500 for this year’s women’s tournament, but I haven’t seen a similar announcement on the men’s side. I’d imagine they’re waiting to see whether or not it will make a difference before making a determination.

Selection Sunday is March 14th. Until then, stay with Streaking the Lawn as we watch to Hoos head into March.