In just a few days, college basketball is back. Well, officially anyway. Numerous exhibition games have been taking place since the end of October, building up the excitement. Speaking of exciting, there is no more exciting tournament in sports than March Madness. College basketball’s premier tournament did not disappoint in 2021. Now, it’s time to start looking at the upcoming season. College basketball bracketology is extremely volatile, especially in the preseason. However, we take our first crack at it for 2021-22.
You can find the first edition of our bracket and seeds right here.
2021-22 College Basketball Bracketology 1.0
The Big Ten and SEC lead the way with eight teams each. The Big Ten has consistently landed a large sum of teams over the past few seasons. However, it still hasn’t resulted in a national title. Meanwhile, the SEC looks deeper than it has in years. The ACC follows with seven teams, though a few of those sit in fringe bubble territory. The Big 12, Big East, and Pac 12 each placed five teams in the initial bracket. The AAC along with a host of mid-major leagues (Atlantic 10, Mountain West, and WCC) each placed two teams in the bracket. There are a handful of mid-major teams that have high expectations to live up to in order to earn at-large berths this season.
Gonzaga may not be as clear cut as the top team entering the season, but the Bulldogs are still our overall top seed. Drew Timme is back and is joined by prized recruits in Chet Holmgren and Hunter Sallis. It’ll be awfully tough to repeat getting to the national title game unblemished. However, there is still plenty to love about the dynasty in Spokane. Gonzaga will be a force once again.
Ironically enough, Baylor checks in as the two-seed in this region. That would be a salacious national title rematch in the Elite Eight, though Baylor would look much different. The Bears will be looking for guys like Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer to step up in their quest to repeat as champions. Baylor will take a step back, but it won’t be a large one.
The Arkansas Razorbacks take the three-seed here. Eric Musselman continues to build strong rosters through the transfer portal. Guys like Chris Lykes, Au’Diese Toney, and Stanley Umude are expected to step in and make immediate contributions. The SEC will be a tough league to get through, but you can expect that this group will be up for the challenge.
The four-seed here is Florida State. On paper, the Seminoles don’t necessarily seem like they would be a top four team. However, Leonard Hamilton always finds a way to have his team playing competitive ball. Caleb Mills comes over from Houston, pairing with Anthony Polite to create a formidable backcourt.
The Kansas Jayhawks check in as our second overall seed. There is a great case that can be made for Bill Self‘s group to be the top seed. David McCormack and Ochai Agbaji, playmakers from last season, are joined by impact transfers Remy Martin and Joseph Yesufu. There’s a lot of talent on this roster, per usual. It will just be a matter of how well it blends together to try and bring another title back to Lawrence.
The Purdue Boilermakers take the two-seed in this region. It all starts with the return of dominant big man Trevion Williams. He should be in the running for every national player of the year award. Meanwhile, the continued development of Jaden Ivey will be key in Purdue’s backcourt. Matt Painter is a great coach who gets the Boilers to maximize their talent.
You knew the Duke Blue Devils wouldn’t stay down for long, checking in as the three-seed. Mike Krzyzewski is hoping to ride off into the sunset as a national champion. All eyes are going to be on star freshman Paolo Banchero, who has been getting rave reviews during Duke’s preseason. It will be interesting to see how Duke responds after a down year in 2020-21, but you have to believe they’ll be back to their older selves this season.
The four-seed here are the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks will be pushing for a Pac 12 title amongst a host of other top teams in that league. They’ll be led by the likes of Will Richardson, Quincy Guerrier, and N’Faly Dante. The resurgence of the premier west coast league in college basketball wouldn’t be complete without a competitive Oregon group.
Appearing as the third overall seed in this edition of college basketball bracketology are the UCLA Bruins. Mick Cronin’s men made a surprising run to the Final Four in March, and that has a lot of buzz coming out of Los Angeles. Time will tell if the hype is unworthy, but the Bruins bring back all five starters on a group that now knows what it takes to reach the season’s final weekend.
The two-seed in this region is the Villanova Wildcats. Jay Wright is one of the best coaches in the history of the game, and a large part of that is with the way he gets his teams to compete year in and year out. Collin Gillespie is running it back after having to end last season early with an MCL tear. Now we’ll have to see how everyone else fills in around him for Villanova to earn yet another national championship.
Just like Duke, the Kentucky Wildcats are right back in the hype for the new season. They check in as the three-seed here. John Calipari is trying to blend old and new talent, relying a little less heavily on a crop of highly touted freshman. TyTy Washington is the top new face, but Davion Mintz, C.J. Fredrick, and Oscar Tshiebwe will provide a more veteran presence. Expect Kentucky to be much more competitive this season.
The Ohio State Buckeyes round out the top four seeds in this region. The Buckeyes are looking to shake off last season’s disappointing end in the NCAA Tournament. The core group that made them so good a season ago returns, including E.J. Liddell and Kyle Young. The Big Ten will be tough, but this is a battle-tested team that should hang around the top of the league all season.
The Michigan Wolverines round out the top seeds in college basketball bracketology. The return of Hunter Dickinson was huge news for Juwan Howard as the Wolverines look to repeat last season’s success. Dickinson will be joined by a highly touted recruiting class, including Moussa Diabate. Michigan appears to be the class of the Big Ten heading into the 2021-22 season. The question is whether they have what it takes to win a national title.
The Texas Longhorns were kind of back last season. They were upset in the first round of the tournament, but bring in Chris Beard from a league rival to keep the momentum going. Veterans Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey will be joined by huge transfer additions in Marcus Carr and Tre Mitchell to make the Longhorns national contenders right away. For now, they settle in as the two-seed here.
The Houston Cougars made further progress in the Kelvin Sampson era by breaking through to the Final Four last season. The Cougars will be led by Marcus Sasser as they look to continue the dominance they’ve had on the American Athletic Conference. Houston might be relying on some more new faces than normal, but this is a group that always finds a way to play well. They check in as the three-seed here.
The Alabama Crimson Tide round out our top 16 teams, ranking as the four-seed in this region. Nate Oats has this program rising fast as they look to repeat as SEC Champions. Jaden Shackelford will be leading the way for the Tide this season in a loaded conference race. It will be interesting to see if they can shoot as well as they did last year, but regardless, this will be a hard team to beat.
All the teams above aren’t expected to sweat on Selection Sunday. That’s not the case for the following group of teams.
The last four teams into this edition of college basketball bracketology are Seton Hall, Mississippi State, Richmond, and Arizona. Seton Hall is hoping some new additions will help keep them on the right side of the bubble. Mississippi State looks like a team on the back end of the SEC that could sneak in this season. Richmond has a veteran group that wants to finally break through the NCAA Tournament wall. Arizona, under new head man Tommy Lloyd, is a hard group to get a gauge on after coming off a season where they were banned from playing in March.
The first four teams out of this first bracket are Saint Mary’s, Missouri State, Oklahoma, and Iowa. Saint Mary’s is hoping to get back its consistent tournament ways after having an off season in 2020-21. Missouri State is one of two or three teams in the Missouri Valley that have a real shot at getting an at-large bid this season. Oklahoma looks to retool under new head coach Porter Moser. Iowa lost a lot of production from last year’s team, but should still be fighting for a spot in the Big Dance throughout the season.