March Madness finally begins Friday for the first time in two years. Before the tournament, former college coach and current ESPN college basketball broadcaster Seth Greenberg previewed the action. He discussed some of the biggest storylines regarding the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament field.
But first, he explained the differences in this year’s tournament because of COVID-19 and their necessity for safety purposes. Greenberg also expressed his excitement for the return of March Madness.
The Top Seed with the Easiest Road
Each No. 1 seed has a case for why it might win a national championship. But which squad has the least difficult path to reach the Final Four? Here are the options:
- West: Gonzaga (26-0) — The Bulldogs enter the tournament undefeated and with three players on the 2021 Wooden Award National Ballot.
- Next highest seeds: Iowa, Kansas and Virginia.
- East: Michigan (20-4) — The Wolverines exited the Big Ten tournament in the semifinals after a loss to Ohio State.
- Next highest seeds: Alabama, Texas and Florida State.
- South: Baylor (22-2) — The Bears fell to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. But that’s still only two losses this year.
- Next highest seeds: Ohio State, Arkansas and Purdue.
- Midwest: Illinois (23-6) — The Fighting Illini won the Big Ten tournament and are led by Ayo Dosunmu and his 20.9 points per game.
- Next highest seeds: Houston, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
Because of the struggles of Virginia and Kansas, Greenberg said he believes Gonzaga easily has the most opportune region to make a run.
Greenberg Expects Several Big 10 Teams to Go Far
Nine Big Ten teams enter the NCAA men’s tournament — without a doubt the most by any conference. They are: Illinois, Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State. But how many can make a deep tournament run?
Of those schools, two are No. 1 seeds (Illinois and Michigan) and two are No. 2 seeds (Ohio State and Iowa). Greenberg said he thinks at least three Big Ten teams can reach the Elite Eight.
Can Anyone Topple Gonzaga or Baylor?
Since Gonzaga is undefeated and Baylor has only two losses, both teams look hard to beat in the tournament. Are there any teams that can take them down? Or are the Bulldogs and Bears on a collision course for the championship game?
Basically, Greenberg thinks it will take a slightly smaller giant to undermine the others. In addition, he said Illinois is the most likely team to overcome Gonzaga and Baylor to win it all.
Sound used in this story courtesy of ESPN and ABC Newscall.