Amid the pandemic, this March Madness will once again be what it was last year, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make bracket predictions with our friends and cheer on our favorite teams from home! Here are some NCAA teams that are high in the ranks and why to look out for them this March Madness and in your brackets.
With an impressive record of 24-0, Gonzaga has a rightfully earned spot at No. 1. While Gonzaga is formerly known to underperform in the tournament, it is still a team to watch and take into consideration when filling out your bracket. The team’s 55% shooting percentage from the field gives it a leading offense and a strong defense to round out plays. A player to look out for is 6-foot-4-inch freshman point guard Jalen Suggs, who could very well be a top five pick in the coming years’ NBA draft. With Suggs leading the team and a strong starting lineup, 2021 could be Gonzaga’s year to take the championship.
With only one loss so far, No. 2-ranked Baylor is another strong team to consider this year. With an impressive 86.4 points per game, the Baylor Bears are considered one of the biggest threats to the No. 1-seeded Gonzaga. Their strong offensive accompanied by their dominant defense is what makes them so elite. With upperclassmen like Jared Butler, MaCio Teague, and Davion Mitchell leading the team, Baylor’s experienced players give them the one-up.
After losing to Illinois on March 2, Michigan has an 18-2 record and is currently ranked third. The Big Ten has taken over the rankings this season, and Michigan is at the top of that list with the team’s high skill and versatility. With so many great teams in the Big Ten this year, it is impressive Michigan has been able to achieve these wins. Definitely a team to keep an eye on the Wolverines this tournament.
With its new and improved defense, Alabama has moved up to sixth in the rankings. It has experienced more losses than previously discussed teams, but it still boasts an impressive 19-6 record. With Herbert Jones as a top ranked defensive player, Alabama’s defense could take the team farther in the tournament than may be expected. Its high 3-point shooting average also makes it a threat on the court, and once the Crimson Tide gets hot, it is hot.
5. Illinois (Go Illini!)
And last but certainly not least, we have our very own Illinois. This season has been one of the best and will definitely be in the history books for years to come. Led by star players Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn, Illinois is certainly not a team to mess with. Our 19-6 record makes us fourth in the NCAA top 25 and second in the Big Ten. These spots make us contenders for not only winning the Big Ten championship but performing well in March Madness. Our 81.1 points per game gives us a strong offensive play, but with large players like Cockburn and Giorgi Bezhanishvili, our defense can also overpower teams. With such a stellar combination of talented players, this 2021 March Madness marks an exciting time in our school’s sports history and a great time to be an Illini!