Selection Sunday arrives for the NCAA Tournament this Sunday. Remember, there’s really no advantage in terms of where teams are put geographically in regions in 2021 as the entire Big Dance will take place in and around the city of Indianapolis and two of the top programs near that area, Butler (in Indianapolis) and Indiana (in Bloomington) aren’t going to make the NCAA Tournament unless they shock everyone by winning their respective conference tournaments.
Selection Sunday what to expect | 2021 NCAA Basketball Expert AnalysisGames will be played on two courts inside Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette and Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Here’s what we do know: Unbeaten Gonzaga is going to be the No. 1 overall seed and is the +240 favorite to win its first national title. The Zags probably are going to enter the Big Dance without a loss – they open the West Coast Conference Tournament on Monday night vs. Saint Mary’s and are heavy, heavy favorites to win that.
GU is 59-16 all-time in the WCC Tournament with 17 titles and 26 finals appearances, including each of the last 23 seasons. GU is 45-5 under Few in the tournament. Even if they were to lose a game, Gonzaga will be the No. 1 overall seed. Coach Mark Few’s team has been utterly dominant this season. The Zags’ 28 straight wins (one shy of tying the program record) dating back to 2019-20 is the longest active streak in nation, along with its 19 straight conference wins.
How dominant? Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme are all Wooden Award candidates for National Player of the Year. Kispert, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, is also a finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award for the second straight season. Suggs, a freshman, is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Timme, a First Team All-Conference selection, is a finalist for the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award.
Big 12 regular-season Baylor is the +450 second favorite to win the national title and also is a lock to be a No. 1 seed regardless of what the Bears do in this week’s Big 12 Tournament. Baylor has just one loss – it was supposed to play Gonzaga this season but it was called off due to COVID.
The final two top seeds are TBA but Illinois (+1200) is probably getting one and fellow Big Ten school Michigan the other, although what happens in the Big Ten Tournament will matter. Illinois’ win on Saturday night at Ohio State likely wrapped up a 1-seed for the Fighting Illini.
Only a few days ago, Michigan (+500) looked like the biggest threat to Gonzaga for a national championship. But the Wolverines lost twice last week, first getting blown out at home by an Ayo Dosunmu-less Illinois team and then losing the season finale to a desperate Michigan State team in East Lansing. U-M also lost starting guard Eli Brooks, an elite defender and capable offensive player, to an ankle injury against Michigan State.
ESPN Bracketology currently lists Colorado State, Boise State, Drake and Xavier as the last four in the NCAA Tournament and Utah State, Syracuse, Saint Louis and Seton Hall as the first four out. Again, what those teams do in their respective conference tournaments will be huge.
Here’s the NCAA Tournament schedule:
- Selection Sunday — 6 p.m. ET March 14 on CBS
- First Four — 4 p.m. start on Thursday, March 18
- First round — 12 p.m. start on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20
- Second round — 12 p.m. start on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22
- Sweet 16 — 2 p.m. start on Saturday, March 27, and 1 p.m. start on Sunday, March 28
- Elite Eight — 7 p.m. start on Monday, March 29, and 6 p.m. start on Tuesday, March 30
- Final Four — 5 p.m. start on Saturday, April 3
- NCAA championship game — 9 p.m. Monday, April 5
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