March Madness has arrived. And with it, upsets and teams looking to bust your 2021 NCAA Tournament bracket. Every year teams bust brackets and pull off upsets, 16 seeded UMBC in 2018, the 11 seeded Loyola-Chicago in 2018 running all the way to the final four, 2006 George Mason, 2012 Lehigh, 2014 UConn, and the list goes on. So which teams are poised to bust brackets and make a run in this year’s NCAA Tournament?
Five Teams that Could Bust Your NCAA Tournament Bracket
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos; Big West (22-4)
12 Seed, West Region
Opponent: Creighton Bluejays
The Gauchos are a team loaded with talent. They have won 18 of their last 19 games including capping off their season with winning the Big West Tournament. On top of that, they won all three games in their tournament quite convincingly. They are led by star senior guard, Jaquori Mclaughlin, who averages 16 points and 5 assists per game. On top of that, he shoots the ball at an efficient rate of 48% from the field and 40% from deep. He is joined by a good supporting cast that includes junior big man, Amadou Sow. He is a force in the paint averaging 14 points and about 8 rebounds a game.
Their first-round match-up is against the Bluejays, a team that is coming off one of their worst performances of the season in the Big East Championship game against Georgetown. If the Bluejays come out flat against this Gauchos team they could easily find themselves in the same position they were in last Saturday against Georgetown. The Gauchos are a team equipped to keep up with teams from bigger conferences, and they will look to prove it this March.
Liberty Flames; ASUN (23-5)
13 Seed, Midwest Region
Opponent: Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Flames just won their 13th straight game capping it off with winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament. They upset a 5 seeded Mississippi St. team a few years ago in the tournament as a 12 seed and busted brackets. Star Junior guard Darius McGhee and company will look to play the role of bracket buster again this year. The Flames shoot 49% from the field and 39% from three which is 5th in the nation. They rank 3rd in scoring defense only allowing 59 points per game to opposing teams. The Flames also protect the ball as they only average 9 turnovers per game, which is the 5th best in the country.
However, they match up against an under-seeded Cowboys team that is one of the hottest teams in the country. They are led by future NBA star Cade Cunningham. They will need to keep this game close, and to pull off this upset they will need to slow down Cunningham as much as possible, which is a tough task to ask of the Flames. However, if they find themselves close in the 2nd half and can grab a lead late, they might not give it up. This is a very well-rounded team and if they get hot, and build a lead, good luck to any team trying to keep up with them. They score efficiently, play defense, and protect the ball, that is a recipe for success and an upset. If they can pull it off this would be an upset that would bust a lot of people’s brackets.
UConn Huskies; Big East (15-7)
7 Seed, East Region
Opponent: Maryland Terrapins
A month ago, the Huskies were on the outside looking in. Their recent success however has them right in the mix. Despite a tough loss to Creighton in the Big East Semi-Finals, the Huskies are getting hot at the right time. Like Husky teams in the past, they are led by two outstanding guards, Junior R.J. Cole and Sophomore James Bouknight. Both these guys can get hot and take over a game. They are sure to give college basketball fans Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier vibes. Add in Senior big, Isaiah Whaley at the core of their defense averaging almost 3 blocks a game, and Junior Tyrese Martin, who is tenacious on the boards, averaging 7 a game, and they have a well-rounded supporting cast.
They have a tough first-round match-up against Maryland. If they get by them, they would be looking at the 2 seed in Alabama. The Huskies can play defense at an incredibly high level. The defense could be what allows them to make a run in this year’s tournament. As long as their offense can keep up with their defense, the sky is the limit for them. When the Huskies are playing well, they truly look like a team that can beat anyone. On top of that maybe they came across some good juju finding themselves as 7 seed again. As many may recall, the last time they were a 7 seed it ended pretty well for them in 2014.
Loyola-Chicago Ramblers; MVC (24-4)
8 Seed, Midwest Region
Opponent: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Ramblers are looking like they are going to find themselves back in the spotlight in March. They are a force in every aspect of the game and no one wants to see them. They have the number one scoring defense allowing 55 points per game and are towards the top of every major statistical category. On top of that, they have their do it all Senior center, Cameron Krutwig. He leads the team in points, assists, rebounds, and blocks. He is joined by fellow Seniors Lucas Williamson and Aher Uguak as key veteran leaders who were apart of their final four run in 2018. Most importantly they still have their secret weapon in Sister Jean cheering them on.
They face off with the 9 seed Georgia Tech in the first-round and are favored. If they get through to the second round, they most likely find themselves in an in-state match-up with the 1 seed in the region, Illinois. However, the Ramblers are equipped to be a giant killer and are capable of being the first team that takes out the first 1 seed in the tournament. They are a complete team in every aspect of the game. The Ramblers are poised to make a deep run again and they have the talent and experience to do so.
Winthrop Eagles; Big South (23-1)
12 Seed, South Region
Opponent: Villanova Wildcats
The Eagles are 23-1 for a reason. They are good. They are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and are led by their star senior guard, Chandler Vaudrin. Vaudrin does everything for them. He averages 12 points per game, along with 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. The biggest knock on them is they didn’t play much of anyone tough on their schedule this season. But to help combat that, they didn’t play many teams close, as they had one of the top-scoring offenses in the nation and a top-scoring margin beating teams on average by 12 points. The Eagles have a talented team and potentially could pull off the ever-so-common 12-5 upset.
Their first-round matchup vs Villanova is tough, but Villanova has been inconsistent throughout the season. Their last game played, a loss to Georgetown in the Big East Tournament showed their inconsistencies. Villanova is one of the best teams at protecting the basketball, they do not turn the ball over much. On the flip side, the Eagles force turnovers at an extremely high rate, one of the best in the country. This game could come down to who wins the turnover battle. The Eagles are not fully battle-tested. However, they are an exceptionally good team that is ready to make some noise.
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