It is six days from Selection Sunday, and Championship Week is here. It starts small, but by mid-week, every major conference will be in action and quite a few smaller conferences will have determined their champion.
Sunday has some big matchups left to settle conference tournament brackets, but Saturday was the last huge day of the regular season. And after yesterday’s action, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi unveiled an 2021 NCAA men’s tournament bracket with an emphasis on the change in the Big Ten.
Michigan State knocked off No. 2 Michigan in a huge they had to have to stay in the bubble equation, and that put the Spartans as the top of the last four bye teams that won’t have to play in the First Four to make the field of 64. But despite the loss on the road, he kept Michigan as a one-seed in the tournament.
The two teams that might be in trouble are Drake and Saint Louis, who have to sit and wait and can’t improve their resume. The Bulldogs fell to Loyola-Chicago in the final of the Missouri Valley to fall to 1-2 against the Ramblers this season, which is the only Quad 1 team they played all year. Saint Louis went down to St. Bonaventure in the A-10 semis, and now they’re at the mercy of the committee as well. Lunardi has Drake as the next-to-last team in, and Saint Louis the third team out of the field.
Nothing changed on the top line, with Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, and as the four No. 1 seeds. Lunardi’s current last four in are Michigan State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and VCU. His last four byes are Utah State, Saint Louis, Seton Hall, and Syracuse, and his First Four participants are Colorado State, Boise State, Drake, and Xavier.
That puts Utah State, Syracuse, Saint Louis, Seton Hall as the first four out, and four teams that can still help themselves in Memphis, SMU, Ole Miss, and St. John’s as the next four out. A brutal Memphis loss yesterday in Houston likely cost them a spot on the right side of this bracket.
While plenty of No. 1 seeds went down in one-bid leagues (Navy, UNC-Greensboro, Wagner, James Madison), those were all conferences that are only getting one team in the field. But as this is March Madness, these projections will change plenty over the next 144 hours.