We already knew this season was going to be weird. Teams essentially have a schedule that is currently in limbo, with games that can get postponed even hours before tip-off. Michigan recently had to pause for two weeks due to a state mandate. The America East Conference is now going to release team schedules on a weekly basis. The MAAC has already restructured league schedules countless times. However, perhaps the bigger surprise this season is how poorly traditional blue bloods have performed. The struggles of teams like Duke and Michigan State are represented in our latest edition of college basketball bracketology.
Here is our third edition of our bracket and seeds.
2020-21 College Basketball Bracketology 3.0
College Basketball Bracketology Conference Breakdown
The Big Ten still leads all leagues with nine teams. However, that number is down from 11 from our prior bracketology. This number will continue to fluctuate, as there are a few teams from that conference that will rise and fall on the bubble all the way up to Selection Sunday. The ACC follows once more with seven bids, up from one from our prior bracketology. The SEC and Big 12 each put six teams in this latest bracket, and the Big 12 seems to be the only league that can feel comfortable about that number not falling any lower. The Pac 12 and Big East each get five bids in this edition, with both appearing to have large gaps between the top of the league and their bubble teams. The Mountain West has burst onto the scene with four teams represented, though none of them can feel safe about their positions just yet. Fellow mid-major leagues in the WCC and Missouri Valley Conference have two teams represented each.
Yawn. That’s not in response to how Gonzaga is playing, but the fact that they continue to hold firm at the top of the bracket. Since our last edition of bracketology, the Bulldogs have won their three games by an average of almost 30 points apiece. That included a 14-point win over traditional rival Saint Mary’s. Every conference opponent will continue to try and give them their best shot, but so far it’s not been near close enough to put a scare in the Zags.
Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is, in fact, the Alabama Crimson Tide checking in as a three seed in this region. They continue to pass every SEC test with flying colors, sitting at 9-0 in league play and finding ways to win even when they don’t play their best at times. A big test looms in the SEC/Big 12 challenge against Oklahoma tomorrow.
Another team that is quietly rising is Purdue. The Boilermakers have won four of their last five games to push themselves away from the bubble. This really shouldn’t be a surprise, as Matt Painter always gets the most out of his teams. And, of course, who wouldn’t want to see their seven-four big man Zach Edey in the Big Dance?
One team not to sleep on in this region is Winthrop. The Eagles are one of five remaining unbeaten teams in Division I, and have reeled off 21 straight wins dating back to last season. Some may think they are seeded too low, but the reality is that the metrics just don’t like Winthrop for them to be seeded much higher than this right now. Still, no four seed will want to see them as their first-round match-up.
Another yawn for Baylor, who has held firm as the second overall seed in our bracket. As so many other things in the college basketball landscape fluctuate, Gonzaga and Baylor remain a dominant constant. The Bears face a sneaky Auburn team in the upcoming SEC/Big 12 challenge before a road test against Texas on Tuesday.
The two-line in this region finds the Virginia Cavaliers. Virginia continues to look more and more dangerous every game. They are largely streaking through conference play, playing the suffocating defense that we’re all used to seeing from them. Given the performance of everyone else in the league, the ACC appears to be theirs to lose.
All that being said about Virginia, their biggest test may be Florida State. The Seminoles check in as the four seed in this region, and are also steadily ascending up many brackets. Leonard Hamilton’s team hasn’t lost in January yet, and don’t face another stiff test until Virginia Tech towards the middle of February.
The Pac 12 has a silent good team in Colorado. The Buffaloes check in as the six seed in this region. They may be the best 13-4 team that no one is really talking about. They do have a bad loss to league bottom-dweller Washington, but the metrics love this team. The Buffs still have plenty of chances to win key league games and push for a Pac 12 title and a higher seed.
Michigan comes in as the third overall seed in this latest college basketball bracketology. As previously mentioned, the Wolverines had to go on a COVID pause that puts them out of commission through the end of next week, at a minimum. However, before that, they continue to prove how dominant they can be. Hunter Dickinson is a prime candidate for Division I’s freshman of the year.
The Kansas Jayhawks have fallen down to the four line in this bracket, in large part thanks to a recent three-game slide. They now sit at just 5-4 in Big 12 play, meaning that getting back to the top of the league appears unlikely at this point in time. Still, how juicy would a Michigan-Kansas Sweet 16 match-up be?
One of the teams Kansas lost to during that losing streak is Oklahoma. The Sooners check in as a six seed in this region with that win and their recent road win over Texas. Oklahoma is no longer a bubble team, and have won four in a row to hit the 10-win mark. Did we mention they have a huge match-up with Alabama tomorrow?
We’ve touched on a few teams that have surged in the ACC, but now we focus on one going in the opposite direction. The Clemson Tigers looked like a protected seed a few weeks ago. Now, they have dropped all the way to a nine seed. The Tigers dropped three in a row before righting the ship against Louisville this week. It doesn’t get any easier though, with games against Duke and North Carolina on the horizon.
Villanova is awarded our last top seed in this bracket. The Wildcats returned from their own pause and appear to have not missed a beat. There’s still plenty of season to go, though, and there are plenty of teams in the mix for the final top spot. Furthermore, the Big East seems to be somewhat down this year, which may hurt Villanova in the long run.
Iowa is a prime candidate for a top seed themselves, and most likely would’ve taken it had they not lost to Indiana their last time out. Still, the Big Ten race between Michigan and the Hawkeyes is going to be a fun one to watch. The strength of the conference means one of those two will more than likely earn a top seed by Selection Sunday.
The Drake Bulldogs continue to make a case for landing inside the bubble should they not win the Missouri Valley. They now sit at 15-0 and passed their first big test in league play, sweeping a solid Missouri State team. The MVC is a tough league to go unblemished in. However, if they do, that should be worthy of a single-digit seed by March.
Given the weakness of the bubble, 13 seeds may be more dangerous than normal this year. South Dakota State fits that bill, checking in at that seed in this region. The Jackrabbits are undefeated in January, and seem to have a somewhat easy path to a league title. This team should be rolling by tournament time.
The last four teams into this edition of college basketball bracketology are Loyola-Chicago, Stanford, Colorado State, and Utah State. Loyola-Chicago has sparkling metrics that just can’t be ignored, and they’ll get their chances to show they’re for real in big league series’ to come. Stanford handed UCLA their first conference loss last week and then knocked off a solid Arizona team to get stay in the bracket. Colorado State and Utah State are racking up quality wins in league play, though Utah State’s rough start to the season could haunt them later on.
The first four teams left out of this bracket are Michigan State, Maryland, Richmond, and Duke. Michigan State would’ve been in had they not looked so abysmal in a 30-point loss to Rutgers last night. Maryland continues to be inconsistent, but quality road wins and metrics keep them in the hunt. Richmond’s loss to La Salle pushed them out for the time being, but they have a huge opportunity against Saint Louis today. Duke continues to underachieve, but you have to think they’ll find a way into the tournament, even if it’s not where we’re used to seeing them.