2021 NCAA March Madness – Sweet 16 Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness Sweet 16 Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

2021 NCAA March Madness – Sweet 16 Expert Picks included below!

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Baseline Times is partnered with Tallysight.com which tracks expert picks throughout the entire NCAAB season this year. Tallysight helps track our experts up against top industry experts and other platforms. Check out Tallysight.com for more information.

Views from the Baseline – Episode 30: 2021 March Madness – Sweet 16

Chevy is joined by Glo (John Glowatz) the go-to College Expert at Baseline Times this week to recap the opening weekend of the 2021 March Madness Tournament, share some busted bracket disappointment, and dub some “Cinderellas”. Glo shares his new “Idols of March” from the 2021 Tournament where he chooses top players that cement themselves in the NCAA Tournament history. The duo also gets a reset in the “Sweet 16 Second Chance” bracket where they share a new Final Four selection from the remaining field. Find out which number one see they feel may go down after this weekend!

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Idols of March Madness 2021

Prior to the the start of March Madness, I wrote about the “Idols of March”. Guys that seemingly took over the the NCAA Tournament from Cinderella teams and captured the hearts of America in the process.

I also made a few predictions of who might emerge as such a March Madness “Idol” in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Some of these were spot on and others… not so much. Now that we are through the first weekend, let’s take a look and see who is still in the running and who has added themselves to the mix.

  • Cameron Krutwig C, Loyola-Chicago – This is really Krutwig’s award to lose. His eight-seed Ramblers took down a severely underseeded Georgia Tech and then dominated one-seed and in-state rival Illinois. Not only is Illinois instate but it is the flagship university, this was like the kid brother finally beating his older brother one-on-one in front of the entire family reunion. No one will let the older brother live this down for years even though it turns out that the kid brother is really freaking good at basketball. Krutwig went for 19 pts, 12 boards, five assists, and four steals in that game by the way. As I mentioned in the previous article, he does have to compete with Sister Jean for the spotlight but I think there is room for both of them on this Rambler hype train.

  • Chris Duarte G, Oregon – We were robbed of Duarte and the Ducks in their first-round matchup against VCU but the Basketball Gods have made up for it with Oregon’s dismantling of two-seed Iowa in the Round of 32. Duarte was electric, posting 23 and seven assists. F Eugene Omoruyi has also come on strong and might challenge Duarte if the Ducks go on a deep run.

  • Buddy Boeheim, G Cuse – The son of Cuse perma-coach Jim Boeheim, Buddy went off for 30 and 25 pts respectively in Cuse’s first two games of the tournament. He’s done it mostly by being blazing hot from three, going 13 for 23 from downtown so far. Buddy and the Orange’s heroics have also given his father the distinction of being the only men’s coach to win an NCAA Tournament game in six different decades!

  • Kevin Obanor F and Max Abmas G, Oral Roberts – Obanor has led the Golden Eagles with 30 and 11 in an OT victory over two-seed Ohio State and 28 and 11 over seven-seed Florida. Abmas was right behind him with 29, five, and three assists and 26 and seven assists respectively. Oral Roberts become only the second 15 seed to ever make the Sweet 16 (2013 FGCU aka Dunk City was the first). Quite the historic team, ORU also has a chance to break Harvard’s record for free-throw shooting percentage in a season (82.18% in 1984). This is because Obanor and Abmas take the vast majority of the free throws!

  • Oregon State – No one player has jumped out for the 12-seed Beavers as a March Madness Idol but my money is between G Ethan Thompson and C Roman Silva if anyone does emerge.

  • UCLA – Again, no clear-cut player has emerged as an idol but both of the Smoking J’s (Gs Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Johnny Juzang) have been pretty great so far. Both are solid contenders for the name portion of the criteria as well.

2021 NCAA March Madness – Second Round Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness Second Round Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

2021 NCAA March Madness – Second Round Expert Picks included below!

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More College coverage from Baseline Times

Baseline Times is partnered with Tallysight.com which tracks expert picks throughout the entire NCAAB season this year. Tallysight helps track our experts up against top industry experts and other platforms. Check out Tallysight.com for more information.

2021 NCAA March Madness – First Round Expert Picks

The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament is here! Dive in with our experts and their 2021 NCAA March Madness First Round Expert Picks. We are partnered with Tallysight.com where our very own experts are ranked in the top 10!

2021 NCAA March Madness – First Round Expert Picks and First Four included below!

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More College coverage from Baseline Times

Baseline Times is partnered with Tallysight.com which tracks expert picks throughout the entire NCAAB season this year. Tallysight helps track our experts up against top industry experts and other platforms. Check out Tallysight.com for more information.

2021 March Madness top players to watch

In case you missed it, Views from the Baseline – 2021 March Madness episode was live fresh off of Selection Sunday. We get it, with the roller coaster of 2020 and cancelations all season it was hard to keep up. That’s why we’re here. College Basketball gurus Cody Guinn and John Glowatz gave a little insight into some 2020 March Madness top players to watch this tournament.

Don’t worry, we’ll keep it short and simple so you can get back to filling out your 31st bracket before Friday’s festivities tip-off.

Cody’s 2021 March Madness top players to watch

  • Moses Moody – (G) Arkansas – He can have a chance to turn some heads and starting to rise in the draft board at least to the top 10 now in projections. A true shooting guard and in a great position to make a run in the tournament.
  • Scottie Barnes – (G) Florida State – Pat Williams from last year comes to mind. Barnes is a long 6’9 versatile player and like Pat Williams can jump up to the top three in the NBA Draft.
  • Jalen Suggs – (G) Gonzaga – Another top draft pick prospect that is a must-watch.
  • Cade Cunningham – (G) Oklahoma State – The top #1 draft prospect overall
  • Ky Jones – (C) Texas – 6’11 center but can be the best prospect from Texas and top-20 pick in the NBA Draft
  • Greg Brown – (F) Texas – A super athlete and explosive but still some intangibles missing however, with a great Texas run it wouldn’t be a surprise he would be included in the conversation.
  • Evan Mobley – (F) USC – While Cade Cunningham is the top prospect in the NBA Draft, Mobley is 1A or 1B. Likewise LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman in last year’s draft it’s the same with Cunningham and Mobley.

Glo’s 2021 March Madness top players to watch

  • Cade Cunningham – (G) Oklahoma State – Presumptive #1 Pick in NBA Draft
  • Luka Garza – (C) Iowa – Best offensive college player in the country, probable Wooden Award winner
  • Kofi Cockburn – (C) Illinois – Like Shaq.  Not young Shaq mind you, like a middle-aged Shaq
  • Ayo Dosunmu – (G) Illinois – Maybe the most complete college guard in the country
  • Corey Kispert – (F) Gonzaga – Maybe the best shooter in the country
  • Jalen Suggs – (G) Gonzaga – Freshman phenom guard, will be a top pick
  • Drew Timme – (F) Gonzaga – Post moves galore
  • Evan Mobley – (F) USC – Skinny but agile C with an advanced skill set, will also be a top pick

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Views from the Baseline – Episode 29: 2021 March Madness Preview

It’s bracket time! What we were robbed of in March 2020 has finally arrived again! The Baseline Times College Experts are here to give you the ultimate 2021 March Madness Preview. Chevy jumps in to host Cody Guinn and John Glowatz two of the finest from Baseline Times College Experts. At the top of the episode, the trio reviews the impacts of COVID-19 on the NCAAB season, what the fair-weather fan may have missed, which teams were snubbed, any surprise teams/rankings, and does conference play matter during the tournament? Cody and John share their takes on the best players in the tournament. They also discuss which teams may have the benefit in the seeding as a “Cinderella” team.

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Idols of March (Madness)

Beware, beware the idols of March (Madness). In my lifetime, I can remember a few “idols” that took over the NCAA tournament and the heart of America for at least a few weeks. Though I’m sure there have been many others, I’m talking about the likes of:

  • Kevin Pittsnogle, 2005 WVU (7 seed)
  • Steph Curry, 2008 Davidson (10 seed)
  • Ali Farokhmanesh, 2010 UNI (9 seed)
  • Kemba Walker, 2011 UConn (3 seed)
  • The entire team of Dunk City, 2013 FGCU (15 seed)
  • Matt Stainbrook, 2015 Xavier (6 seed)

March Madness Idol Criteria

Extrapolating from the above legends, there are a few key criteria to become an Idol of March. Not all of these criteria need be met but the more the better:

  • Plays for a ‘Cinderella’ Team (helps if they are a 7 seed or worse)
  • Key player on the team and/or a fan favorite
  • Name rolls off of the tongue, or in the case of an entire team, has a dope collective nickname
  • Fun play style (usually 3 point shooting, iso, or dunk-centric)
  • Penchant for making big plays at key moments (We need the play-by-play crew to say stuff like “Look who it is… Kemba!”, “Guess who? Pittsnogle!”, or just “CURRY!!!”)

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2021 NCAA Tournament Candidates

So, who are some of the candidates for the 2021 NCAA Tournament? Let’s take a look below:

  • James Bouknight G, UConn – A ton of folks are already penciling Bouk into the Kemba/Shabazz role and they might not be wrong. If UConn goes on one of their patented runs Bouknight will be the reason why. (Btw, his name is pronounced Book-night).
  • Nah’shon ‘Bones’ Hyland G, VCU – Aside from being the owner of a devastatingly impressive nickname, Bones Hyland also led the Atlantic 10 in scoring and was the conference player of the year.
  • Cameron Krutwig C, Loyola-Chicago – This young man checks off a lot of boxes. He leads Loyola-Chicago in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks. He also looks like a 38-year-old man with a 14-year-old mustache. Definite fan favorite and, oh, he was also MVC player of the year. The only thing is if Loyola makes another deep run he will have to compete with Sister Jean for the spotlight.
  • Ron Harper Jr G or Geo Baker G/F, Rutgers – Rutgers’ historic season, making the tournament for the first time in 30 years, warrants two potential March Madness Idols. Both of these two players have miles of heart and a penchant for making big plays at the right time.
  • Jose Alverado G or Moses Wright F, Georgia Tech – Georgia Tech is also having a season, either of these two could emerge as the guy in the tournament. Alverado posted truly elite shooting splits (60%, 41%, 88%) and was also fourth in the country in steals per game. Moses is the premier big man in the ACC after being a “zero-star recruit“.
  • Dante Harris G, Georgetown – I’m writing this before the Big East Tournament Championship Game… so, there is a good chance that Harris and 12-12 Georgetown don’t even make the NCAA Tournament. However, if they do freshman Harris will be heavily involved. Georgetown is 9-4 to finish the season and Coach Ewing has them trending in the right direction, all they need is a deep run to start Georgetown on its way back to prominence.
  • Chris Duarte G, Oregon – An international man of mystery, Duarte was born in Montreal, grew up in the Dominican Republic, and played his high school ball in NY state. Duarte is also one of the best ballplayers in the Pac 12 and the entire country, posting 53%, 44%, 80% splits, and 17.3 points per game even though Oregon will be a mid seed.
  • Jordan Schakel G, SDSU – The bearded, mountain-man-looking Schakel is top three in the nation in 3PT %. You can just imagine him in an early-round upset knocking down big shot after big shot while his bench loses their minds.
  • Chandler Vaudrin G, Winthrop – Vaudrin is a do-it-all senior PG who really fills out the stat sheet for the Eagles though he shines as a passer as he is seventh in the nation in assists per game. A 12 v 5 or a 13 v 4 upset is very much in play for them with Vaudrin as the catalyst behind such.
  • Osun Osunniyi F, St Bonaventure – A strong contender for the name portion alone, Osun leads the Bonnies defense with 2.8 blocks per game and earned A10 defensive team honors. The Bonnies have a good chance to make a run with Osun as one of five players to average 10+ ppg. If they do, you can easily picture him soaring for a huge block while the commentators yell out “OSUN with the rejection!!”

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2021 March Madness Preview

This is part of a series for the 2021 NCAA Basketball Tournament Preview. Please use the information here to help you fill out your bracket and enjoy!

  • Travel factor – in a normal year, traveling more than 150 miles from home reduces the odds of winning by 33.6% than for those who play in their home regions. However, this year all of March Madness will take place in Indianapolis so expect this advantage to be largely negated, except for:
    • The B1G tournament will also take place in Indianapolis and B1G teams will stay in the city in the interim. Expect a bump in early-round performance for B1G teams as well as possibly others located nearby like Loyola-Chicago, Toledo, and Cleveland State. Also, expect this bump to level off by the end of the first weekend.
  • Coaching Records in March Madness – Obviously how well a coach prepares his team is a key metric for NCAA Tournament success. Some coaches have better track records than others in wins over expected for their seed level. The top 5 active coaches won’t surprise you, but the order might. Check out the rest of the list for your bracket.
    1. Jim Boeheim
    2. Tom Izzo
    3. Roy Williams
    4. John Calipari
    5. Mike Krzyzewski
  • Past Title Indicators – Since 2002, (almost) every NCAA champion has met the following criteria:
    • Top 25 overall KenPom Ranking
    • 4 seed or better (2014 UConn is the one exception)
    • Top 25 KenPom offense ranking (Again 2014 UConn the exception)
    • Top 40 KenPom defense ranking
    • Won regular season or conference tournament (2014 UConn & 2015 Duke the exceptions)
    • The candidates that meet the above criteria this year are Gonzaga, Illinois, Michigan, Houston, and Virginia.
    • Baylor met all other criteria but fell just short with a defensive ranking of 44.
    • Purdue meet all of the numerical criteria but failed to win a conference or regular season title.
  • Rest vs. Momentum in Conference Tournaments:
    • Being hot in March and performing well in conference tournaments is generally indicative of March’s success. The data backs that up 61% of Final Four participants played in their conference tournament championship game.
    • Rest (by losing early in the conference tournament) has not been proven to be as important. But strong teams have overcome early losses in such. Since 2002, 7 teams went on to win the National title after losing early in conference tournaments but all were 1 seeds (except 2003 Cuse, a 3 seed).

Lethargy and Pressure? – AKA the Gonzaga Factors: The Zags are the top seed and many are picking them to cut the nets for the first time. But they have two special considerations:

  • Lethargy – The 2021 Zags became the first team ever to win all of their conference games by 10+ points. This is quite an accomplishment but does it bode well for them? Will cruise control for 2.5 months come back to bite them? Will they be able to ‘turn it on’ when needed in the dance? The fact that they’ve only made one Final Four isn’t great for them.
  • Pressure – No team has gone undefeated since 1976 Indiana. Only 2 real modern-era teams (2014 Wichita St and 2015 Kentucky) made it to the tournament undefeated. Obviously, neither of these teams was hanging the banner at the end of the season. The Zags have escaped a lot of the usual pressure due to Covid and their conference SOS but I imagine it will ramp up after the first weekend. Definitely, a factor but Gonzaga is also the highest-rated KenPom team of all time! If anyone can do it, they can.

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Conference Tournament Zeros to NCAA Tournament Heroes

NCAA tournament bracket glory is your goal, right? You want to destroy your friends, family, and/or coworkers? Do you want the best bracket out there and the cash or bragging rights that come with it? (Whichever is more important to you). Well, that all starts with picking the right National Champion and Final Four if you can get so lucky.

Conventional wisdom says to pick chalk, especially red-hot teams heading into the NCAA tournament. I previously wrote about rest vs. momentum in conference tournaments for NCAA tournament success. The data holds up that momentum in conference tournaments is more important (or at least a better indicator of success) than the extra rest that comes along with losing early.

However, you may note that there are four teams in each Final Four. And since 2002 (the first year all P6 conferences held tournaments) 39% of these did not make the final game of their conference tournament. So, that means that every year it is more than likely that at least one Final Four team will fall into this category. So, how do we pick that fourth Final Four team? And should we ever pencil them in as the National Champ?

NCAA Tournament Data

Off the bat, only two non-P6 teams (2003 Marquette & 2006 George Mason) have made a Final Four without making their conference final since 2002. Marquette was the number eight team in the country in 2003, still earned an NCAA three seed, and is now in the Big East.

Conference realignment has pilfered mid-major leagues in general. Of the 11 teams who’ve made the Final Four from mid-major conferences since 2002 only Mason, VCU, Memphis, Loyola-Chicago, and Gonzaga remain outside of the P6. So, it seems less likely that mid-major conferences will be sending multiple teams capable of deep runs in a given year… though not impossible.

Let’s make it simple. I definitely won’t choose any non-P6 school to make the Final Four this year if they don’t make their conference championship game except if Gonzaga, Houston, or maaaybe Loyola-Chicago take any early tumble. Those three teams are ranked high enough that they can afford an early loss and still earn a decent NCAA tourney seed (depending on how bad the hypothetical Loyola loss is).

In any case, look at this chart representing the average of 28 Final Four teams that didn’t make their conference title game since 2002. 14 of the 28 lost in the Final Four, 7 were national runner-ups, and 7 won the championship.

NCAA SeedConf RS FinishNatl Rank
Final Four4.32.816.2
Natl Runner Up32.610
Natl Champ1.313.3
Averages for Each Category Pre-NCAA Tournament

Title Turnarounds

What really stands out to me in this chart is the strength of the national champions. All seven finished as conference regular-season champions. All were also one seed in the NCAA tournament except for 2003 Syracuse which was a three seed. (Though Cuse was luckily in the East region in 2003 despite not being a top seed). All were also, of course, highly nationally ranked prior to March Madness.

The other thing is that, again aside from 2003 Cuse in the Big East, all were ACC teams at the time. It’s no surprise that the two best men’s basketball conferences over the last twenty years (The Old Big East & the ACC) are responsible for the entirety of the national champions on this list. These two conferences had more chances by earning more bids and also great other teams to which a top team losing in the conference tourney would be expected over enough games.

The Big 12 and B1G have overtaken them, at least for this year, as the best conferences in college basketball. So, if one of Baylor or Michigan loses in the semifinal of the 2021 Big 12 or B1G conference tourneys don’t push the panic button. It will be a better sign of success if they win their conference tournaments but there is precedent for a loss and still cutting down the nets at the end of the year.

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Final Four Squads

Three Final Four teams really skewed the data quite a bit: 2017 South Carolina (7 seed), 2016 Cuse (10), and the aforementioned 2006 George Mason (11). Aside from these three, the remaining 25 teams were all five seeds or better. Even the non-champions (again aside from the three) had an average NCAA seed of 2.6 and an average AP national ranking of 8.8 before the NCAA tournament.

However, we can’t quite discount the three Cinderalla runs since 2002. But what made these teams differently? 2017 South Carolina was not hot, losing 6 of 9 (including their first SEC tournament game) heading into the NCAA tournament. Same story for 2016 Cuse, losing five of their final six (including their first ACC tournament game). And Mason as well, losing to Hofstra (who finished 64 in Kenpom that year) twice in their last four games. South Carolina did get to play the rounds of 64 & 32 games in their own backyard but neither Cuse nor Mason had that benefit.

There are two common threads as far as I can tell. First, all three finished top 17 in KenPom defensive efficiency. They also all had multiple scoring threats rather than one or two stars. Mason had five players average double figures, Cuse had four with the fifth averaging 8.8 pts/game, South Carolina also had four. Obviously, it helps to have stars (like Sindarius Thornwell) but the distribution of the scoring threat is necessary for when that one guy gets shut down.

The sample size here is small but these are interesting tidbits. If you’re crazy enough to pick a cold team coming off of multiple losses to your Final Four make sure they play defense and have multiple guys who can score!

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