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Our First-Round Picks For The 2021 NCAA Tournament

They’ll feel right until they’re blown apart two hours after tip-off

Loyola v Michigan
SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 31: An official basketball is shown with the NCAA Photos via Getty Images Final Four logo prior to the start of the NCAA Photos via Getty Images Men’s Final Four semifinal game between the Loyola Ramblers and the Michigan Wolverines on March 31, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas.
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Now that we’ve had fun with one bracket, here’s our considered picks. A few notes to keep in mind before everyone’s brackets get blown apart.

  • Covid has really disrupted Virginia. Also, Ohio’s Jason Preston is tough to deal with. Virginia is vulnerable right now.
  • Oklahoma ended the season very poorly. Normally we’d have taken them but not now.
  • We see Creighton as damaged goods emotionally. UCSB is very dangerous as well.
  • We went with Kansas but Covid is potentially disruptive there too, at least in terms of losing its edge.
  • Michigan is without Isaiah Livers but that program is really tough. So we’re sticking them them for awhile. They were our pick to win it all before his injury.
  • LSU has tons of talent but has underachieved. They should get a terrific game from St. Bonnie’s, which does not have that problem.
  • Georgetown was amazing in the Big East tournament but that emotion will be tough to carry over for several days.
  • We’re picking FSU over UNCG but it might be a mistake. Remember, Greensboro almost had Gonzaga a few years ago. They were soooo close.
  • We’re huge Hurley fans and Danny is going to turn UConn into a monster again. Plus Maryland is Maryland. They expect to fail so they will. Might as well be UConn.
  • We wouldn’t want to be in Nate Oats’ shoes right now. Win by 20 and you were just supposed to. Lose to Iona in Rick Pitino’s comeback? A nightmare.
  • We would have taken Baylor to the finals if not for Covid. We see them losing to UNC in the second round.
  • We see UNC losing to Texas Tech in the Elite Eight.
  • Everyone is picking Winthrop and we are too and here’s why: ‘Nova has lost its point guard and its second-best guard has ankle problems. Winthrop is 23-1. That’s a hell of a year. Winthrop averages 7.8 spg.And it’s an older team too. Also, keep an eye on Chandler Vaudrin: the 6-7 senior leads his team in scoring, rebounding and assists. How often do you see that?
  • We’re wary of North Texas, apparently a superb defensive team.
  • Loyola’s Porter Moser should take a better job. He’s really proven himself. And by the way, just remembered this....he said earlier this season that his entire team had tested positive so they’re as ready and predictable as anyone in the field.
  • San Diego State and Syracuse will be fun to watch on defense as they have very different styles but both highly effective.

First our Final Four picks: Gonzaga, Michigan, Texas Tech and Illinois.

Then here are our first round picks, starting with the First Four:

  • Norfolk State over Appalachian State.
  • Texas Southern over Mt. St. Mary’s
  • Drake over Wichita State
  • Michigan State over UCLA

West

  1. Gonzaga over Norfolk State
  2. Missouri over Oklahoma
  3. UCSB over Creighton
  4. Ohio over Virginia
  5. USC over Drake
  6. Kansas over Eastern Washington
  7. Oregon over VCU
  8. Iowa over Grand Canyon

East

  1. Michigan over Norfolk
  2. St. Bonaventure over LSU
  3. Colorado over Georgetown
  4. Florida State over UNCG
  5. Michigan State over BYU
  6. Texas over Abilene Christian
  7. UConn over Maryland
  8. Alabama over Iona

South

  1. Baylor over Hartford
  2. UNC over Wisconsin
  3. Winthrop over Villanova
  4. Purdue over North Texas
  5. Texas Tech over Utah State
  6. Arkansas over Colgate
  7. Virginia Tech over Florida
  8. Ohio State over Oral Roberts

Midwest

  1. Illinois over Drexel
  2. Loyola over Georgia Tech
  3. Tennessee over Oregon State
  4. Oklahoma State over Liberty
  5. San Diego State over Syracuse
  6. West Virginia over Morehead State
  7. Clemson over Rutgers
  8. Houston over Cleveland State