It’s been a wild ride thus far in college basketball. There have been some blockbuster match-ups. There have been some unexpected upsets. And, unfortunately, there have been postponements and cancellations once again. Even with a new variant of COVID around, the march to, well, March, carries on. Time will tell as to how many games may be lost before Selection Sunday gets here. However, fans will continue to follow their teams on their journey to the bracket. Before conference play gets going in full, LWOS has its second edition of college basketball bracketology.
You can find the second edition of our bracket and seeds right here.
2021-22 College Basketball Bracketology 2.0
The Big Ten leads this edition of the bracket with nine teams. While they are the conference with the most teams, there are many would say the league has been a disappointment thus far. The SEC is up next with eight teams represented. This is a league that has come on strong since the start of the season. The Big 12 follows with seven of its ten teams represented. This is easily the best league in the country right now.
The Big East and the ACC each have five teams represented. However, these leagues are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The ACC looks down while the Big East looks more open for the first time in years. In a bit of a surprise, the next league up is the West Coast Conference with four teams. This is due in large part to the emergence of teams like San Francisco and Saint Mary’s. The weak Pac 12 puts three teams in, while the Mountain West and AAC each have two teams represented.
The top overall seed in this latest edition of college basketball bracketology is the Baylor Bears. Scott Drew once again has his team poised for a national title run. In a season where a few teams have already faltered holding the top spot in the polls, Baylor remains constant. The Big 12 will be tough to run through again, but expect the Bears to be right there at the end. James Akinjo paces this group as the new team leader.
The Auburn Tigers find themselves as the two-seed in this region. Bruce Pearl has Auburn looking like the new favorite in the SEC. The Tigers get it done with stout defense, and are coming off an impressive win that handed LSU their first loss of the season. Jabari Smith has been a beast thus far with 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
In one of the biggest surprises thus far, the Michigan Wolverines find themselves as the nine-seed here. Michigan started as a top five team but have fallen hard with a current record of just 7-5. None of their losses have been terrible, but many thought the Wolverines were a national title contender. There are plenty of opportunities in the Big Ten, but they have their work cut out for them now.
The 12-seed in this region is the Davidson Wildcats. Davidson represents the Atlantic 10 as the league’s only team. This is a huge disappointment considering the A-10 looked like a league that could get three or four teams into the field. A poor non-conference showing has the league looking like a one-bid candidate for the first time in years. All that being said, Davidson is a team nobody wants to see opposing them in the bracket.
The one seed in this region, and the second overall seed, is the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue held the top spot in the AP Poll for the first time ever, but quickly dropped back after losing to Rutgers. The majority of Big Ten play still sits ahead of the Boilermakers, so it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out. However, thus far, Matt Painter has a team that looks like the best shot at a national championship for the league.
The two-seed is one of the blue bloods in college basketball in the Kansas Jayhawks. Bill Self‘s group took a head-scratching loss to Dayton back in November, but has had smooth sailing ever since. It has taken awhile for a lot of the new pieces to mesh in Lawrence, but things are starting to pay off. Kansas will look to take back their league crown after so many years of dominance.
Loyola-Chicago checks in as the seven-seed in this region. Even with a coaching change, the Ramblers continue to be one of the best mid-major teams in the country. They did miss on some big opportunities during the Thanksgiving holiday, but the metrics still love them. Loyola-Chicago’s biggest issue will be that the Missouri Valley Conference looks much weaker than first thought heading into the season.
Another surprise mid-major in this college basketball bracketology is the San Francisco Dons. San Francisco has been an under-the-radar team for the past few seasons, but it looks like they might finally break through the NCAA Tournament glass. The Dons have just one loss so far, but they’ll have their biggest test of the season against Gonzaga later this week.
The third overall seed, and the top seed in this region, are the Duke Blue Devils. Duke has quietly returned to the team we expect them to be, holding the top spot in the polls for one week before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Paolo Banchero has been everything the Blue Devils thought he’d be when he signed, and the ACC looks like its Duke’s to lose with how weak it is this season.
The UCLA Bruins check in as the two-seed in this region. The Bruins’ only loss of the season came to Gonzaga back in the first few weeks of the season. Unfortunately, they are one of the programs that has been hit hard by COVID pauses, and they haven’t played a game in close to a month. It’ll be interesting to see how they play once they return to the court.
The Houston Cougars are the three-seed here, though they feel like a team that could fall a lot by the time March comes around. Kelvin Sampson will have the Cougars relevant, but Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark have been lost for the season with injuries. That will certainly challenge Houston to find guys to step up. However, even with the losses, they look like the best team in the AAC.
Villanova sits as the five-seed in this region. The Wildcats look a little more vulnerable than they have in year’s past, opening the door for other teams in the Big East. Even with that thought, they have ripped off two straight wins against ranked conference opponents. At the end of the day, Jay Wright‘s team won’t go down without a fight.
Normally, being a one-seed wouldn’t be a disappointment. However, Gonzaga checking in as the fourth overall seed might feel that way given the pre-season expectations. Still, the Bulldogs are one of the best teams in the country, even if an undefeated season is no longer possible. With other teams on the rise in the WCC, Gonzaga may be tested a little more than usual in league play for the first time in a long time.
Arizona checks in as the two-seed in this region. The Wildcats started on our bubble at the beginning of the season, but have ascended quickly throughout the season. Tommy Lloyd had his group undefeated before a tough road loss to Tennessee just before Christmas. Still, Arizona is here to stay and will be in the conversation for a top seed the rest of the season.
Another surprise team checks in here with the Iowa State Cyclones as the three-seed. Iowa State, picked at the bottom of the Big 12 in the pre-season, is currently a borderline top 10 team. They just took their first loss to Baylor, though they gave the Bears all they could handle in the loss. It remains to be seen if it is sustainable, but Iowa State has set themselves up nicely heading into the meat of Big 12 play.
The 12-seed in this region are the UAB Blazers. UAB is one mid-major to keep an eye on, as the Blazers have numbers that make them a borderline at-large team at this time. UAB only has league play left to go in Conference USA, but if they can run the table, or maybe lose just once, you can expect that the Blazers could have a realistic chance at an at-large, especially if other power conferences continue their downward trend.
College Basketball Bracketology Bubble Teams
The last four teams into this edition of college basketball bracketology are San Diego State, Arkansas, Memphis, and Northwestern. San Diego State continues to be one of the better mid-majors out there and once again is a threat out of the Mountain West. Arkansas, once thought to be a top 15 team, has really faltered of late and finds themselves barely hanging on. Memphis is in similar territory, and has almost no room for error moving forward if they want to stay on the bubble. Northwestern has gotten off to a decent start, though their best win right now is a Maryland team that is playing below expectations.
The first four teams out of the bracket are Louisville, Creighton, Wake Forest, and UCF. Louisville was very close to being included, but it’s hard to tell which version of the Cardinals will show up on any given night. Creighton has exceeded expectations thus far and possesses an impressive 20-point win over Villanova this season. Wake Forest is another surprise team sitting at 11-3, but the metrics still aren’t sold on the Demon Deacons just yet. Finally, UCF looks like the third best team in the AAC, with road wins over Miami and Michigan anchoring their profile.