March Madness tips off later this week, meaning it’s time to fill out your bracket. While we can’t fully guarantee which team will be named national champions this year, we’ve got a few safe bets. Here are some teams — both the expected and less expected — you should know about this year as you consider who might have the best shot at winning it all.
America’s top-rated team has not lost a game all year. That would be impressive even if the Bulldogs were just playing against a bunch of scrubs but they’ve bested several title challengers en route (Iowa, Kansas, and more). The team has two players on the shortlist for the Naismith Award (aka best men’s college hoops player in the country) and can seemingly outscore any team on the planet. That, and they have tremendous depth, meaning the team is set up to do some serious tournament damage.
The team with the best center in the nation (Luka Garza) must be mentioned. Iowa has shown poise and plays in one of the strongest leagues in the country, meaning they are battle-tested and ready for the spotlight. Expect the Hawkeyes to make a deep run this year.
A bit of a sleeper squad this year, Michigan State just knocked off second-ranked Michigan. One could call it a fluke given the always-competitive nature of this intrastate rivalry, but MSU has quietly turned out some impressive results
With a 21-3 record, the Cougars are getting very used to winning. The team just pulled off a nervy win against Memphis and beat a strong Texas Tech team earlier this season. Houston hasn’t played a lot of ranked teams but that’s what makes them kinda sneaky. Pundits may write them off but they’ll undoubtedly get a strong seed to begin the tournament, one that could set them up with some favorable opponents and a pathway all the way to the Final Four (or beyond).
A perennial mid-tier powerhouse, Creighton looks solid this year. No stranger to the tourney, the Bluejays have qualified an impressive 20 times. This year, Creighton has earned big wins over teams like Villanova and when they lose, it’s often by just a few points, in nail-biting fashion. It’s a well-coached and organized team that may be playing with a chip on its shoulder come tournament time, given some close losses during the regular season.
Defense wins championships. While it’s unlikely the Volunteers make it all the way into the April segment of the tourney, expect an upset or two. The team has already beaten Kansas and Missouri and knows how to stifle the offense of the opposing team. Many thought Tennessee would have a better record this season but, fortunately for the team, it still has a chance to live up to expectations.
Belmont was flawless during conference play, earning a remarkable 18-0 record. The Nashville school shares the ball well on the court and has a fine center in Nick Muszynski. The team will be excited to get some national attention and has a pedigree of knocking off some of the game’s more recognized teams.
Another institution touting the cougar mascot, BYU is set to make its presence felt at March Madness 2021. They’re strong defensively and shoot extremely well from distance. The team seems to be heating up just in time for the tournament, meaning they might be extra dangerous this year.
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