Two weeks may not seem like a long time. However, during the college basketball season, that can feel like an eternity. Teams roughly play four games in that span, and those outcomes can drastically affect placement in bracket projections. That’s certainly the case in our latest edition of college basketball bracketology. This trend may continue deep into the season as teams play various amounts of games, getting a bump up or down accordingly.
Without further ado, here is the second edition of our bracket and seeds.
2020-21 College Basketball Bracketology 2.0
College Basketball Bracketology Conference Breakdown
The Big Ten continues to lead the charge with 11 of its 14 member institutions represented in the bracket. While the top of this league seems fairly solidified, the bottom is where things get fun as a handful of teams are expected to hang around the bubble all year. The ACC held firm at eight bids as well, though the teams who have stock that’s rising in this league aren’t who you would expect. The Big 12 and the SEC follow that with six teams apiece. The Pac 12 and BIG EAST each have five representatives, though many of those teams still have a lot to prove as the season goes on. From the mid-major ranks, both the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West find two teams in this latest update.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs continue to hold down their top spot in our college basketball bracketology. Thus far, West Coast Conference play has been a breeze for the Zags. This includes a statement win over BYU, who many thought could be the biggest remaining test for Mark Few’s squad. However, it seems as though an undefeated regular season is all but certain in Spokane.
The Houston Cougars check in as a three-seed in this region. They suffered their first setback of the year a few weeks ago at the buzzer against Tulsa. However, they offset that with a solid win over arguably the AAC’s second-best team in SMU just a few days later. Houston is a sleeper team for a Final Four run and may be the only team to represent the American Athletic Conference this season.
The still-defending National Champions can be found in this region, as the Virginia Cavaliers check in as a five-seed. The Cavaliers have reeled four-straight against the bottom-feeders of the ACC after getting blown out of the gym by Gonzaga in late December. It’s never smart to count out Tony Bennett’s men, but the country is also still waiting to see how they do against the upper echelon of the ACC before gaining any more confidence.
A warm bracket welcome goes out to the Boise State Broncos, who check in as an 11-seed in this region. The Broncos are included as the Mountain West’s auto-bid but are building an at-large worthy resume as well. Their series against Colorado State at the end of the month will tell us more about just how good the Broncos may be. However, this is a team that could bust a bracket if they manage to hear their name on Selection Sunday.
The Baylor Bears have held a firm grasp on the second-overall seed in our college basketball bracketology. All of that could change depending on their results over the upcoming weekend. A road trip to Lubbock to square off with Texas Tech looms, followed by a blockbuster matchup against Kansas on Monday. These are the Bears’ two biggest games since defeating Illinois in early December.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are the two-seed in this region. Luka Garza continues to do his thing as the Hawkeyes haven’t lost since Christmas Day. Iowa continues to play offense at a blistering pace, putting up almost 92 points per game. However, even scarier is that this team’s defense appears to be trending in the right direction as well. A one-seed isn’t out of reach for this group, and neither is a national title.
The Virginia Tech Hokies have slipped into protected seed area, appearing as this region’s four-seed. The Hokies continue to quietly rack up quality wins. They added a victory over Duke to a profile that also has triumphs over Clemson and Villanova. Head Coach Mike Young appears to be a bit ahead of schedule in Blacksburg, but Hokie fans certainly aren’t complaining.
It’s amazing how much of a difference changing conferences can make. Just ask the Connecticut Huskies. After being trapped in AAC purgatory, the Huskies are back where they belong in the BIG EAST. Accordingly, UConn checks in as the seven-seed in this region. More importantly, they are looking more and more like the team that has the best chance to challenge Villanova and Creighton at the top of the BIG EAST.
LWOS has hopped onto the Michigan Wolverines bandwagon after their dismantling of Wisconsin on Tuesday. That outcome, coupled with Texas’ loss to Texas Tech, pushes this group to the top line. The only remaining hurdle the Wolverines have is to prove they can win against a quality opponent on the road. Lucky for Michigan, they’ll get that chance immediately, playing at Minnesota on Saturday.
Looking for a team that is sneakily right on the outskirts of being a top seed? Look no further than the Tennessee Volunteers. The Vols check in as a two-seed in this region. Their only blemish was an Alabama team that is looking more and more dangerous in their own right. Tennessee plays a smothering defense, only giving up an average of just under 57 points per game. The SEC may not look as strong as other power leagues, but don’t discount what the Volunteers are capable of.
The Clemson Tigers have just one loss this season to a strong Virginia Tech group, and that came on December 15th. That allows them to check in as the four-seed here. Clemson is one of the hottest teams in the country, something normally said about its football program. There’s nothing to suggest they aren’t the best team in the ACC so far this year, but that will be tested when Virginia comes to town on Saturday.
Say what you want about the Pac 12, but UCLA is looking more and more like the team everyone picked as the league’s preseason favorite. The Bruins have been hot lately, and their 5-0 start in league play has them appearing as this region’s five-seed. The strength of the Pac 12 may limit their seeding ceiling, but UCLA still feels like a team that could at least get to a Sweet 16.
Villanova remains on the one-line, though dropping one spot in overall seeding. It’s not so much what the ‘Cats haven’t done as much as what everyone else has done around them. Villanova is in the midst of their own COVID outbreak, so for now fans just want everyone on the team to get back to full health. However, once the Wildcats do return, it will be interesting to see how they handle such a long layoff.
The Big 12 surrounds Villanova in this bracket as Texas, Kansas, and Texas Tech check in as the two, three, and four-seeds, respectively. As league play goes on, those teams will surely move up and down accordingly. However, Texas Tech has had the most impressive week thus far, as they marched into Austin and took down the Longhorns on Wednesday.
Your eyes are not deceiving you. The Duke Blue Devils are, in fact, the nine-seed in this bracket. They just don’t have anything special on their profile to date, with their best win being Notre Dame. The Blue Devils just missed out on their most recent opportunity against Virginia Tech on Tuesday. There’s still plenty of time to rise fast, but for the time being, Duke just doesn’t have anything on its resume to justify anything higher.
This region boasts one of the nation’s last remaining unbeatens at the mid-major level in the Drake Bulldogs. Many pundits (including this one) believed that the Missouri Valley was a potential two-big league between Loyola-Chicago and Northern Iowa. While the two-bid idea isn’t out of the question, it’s the Bulldogs, not Northern Iowa, who looks like the second contender. And, at the moment, they look like the best team in this league. Keep an eye on Drake as they look to build up an at-large profile and wreck your bracket.
The last four teams into this edition of our college basketball bracketology are Michigan State, Seton Hall, Richmond, and Maryland. Michigan State continues to be a difficult team to figure out, but the metrics are not on their side right now. Seton Hall is quietly building a nice profile but is missing that one signature win. Richmond is sweating much more than they thought they would need to thus far this season. Maryland finds their way on here thanks to fantastic road wins over Wisconsin and Illinois.
The first four teams left out of this bracket are Northwestern, BYU, NC State, and VCU. Northwestern is in the middle of a four-game losing streak after a strong start to Big Ten play. BYU will be San Diego State’s biggest fan, as that is their best win, but their missed opportunity against Gonzaga may hurt them in the long run. NC State has missed on some recent opportunities against Clemson and Florida State, and their win over North Carolina looks less inspiring with the Tar Heels’ recent play. VCU is a big surprise here. The Rams felt like a team that was going to rebuild this season but find themselves at 10-3 with opportunities against Richmond and Saint Louis still in play.