Following one of the most unpredictable seasons in college basketball history due to COVID-19, Selection Sunday is finally here.
The 68 NCAA Tournament teams will be unveiled Sunday (6 p.m. ET, CBS) — more than a year after the cancellation of March Madness due to the global pandemic.
Which teams are in? Which teams are out? The bubble was as hectic as ever this year. Georgetown and Oregon State nabbed two bids by stunningly winning their power conference tournaments, and other borderline teams fought to improve their résumés until the last minute of championship week.
Under COVID-19 protocols, the “last four out” teams will act as stand-by replacement teams in the tournament. They’d have up until Tuesday to become an alternate if one of the 68 teams cannot meet NCAA requirements in Indianapolis. After that, the bracket is locked.
Big Ten teams, such as Rutgers, Maryland and Michigan State, are the safest among bubble teams thanks to victories in the conference tournament — or in the Spartans’ case, two marquee wins over Illinois and Michigan in the final stretch of the regular season. The Big Ten led the nation in NET rankings and it paid off near the top and bottom of the bracket.
Near the top seeding line, there’s far less suspense. Undefeated Gonzaga will surely be the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Baylor and Big Ten teams Illinois and Michigan.
The Wolverines’ national title chances take a hit with the likely loss of veteran Isaiah Livers (stress fracture on right foot), but that won’t affect their top seed. No. 2 seeds Alabama and Ohio State, both playing in their respective conference tournament finals later Sunday, are close. But even wins by them wouldn’t be enough to undo the current No. 1 seed line.
No. 1 seeds
Gonzaga, Baylor, Illinois, Michigan.
Last four in
VCU, Syracuse, Drake, Utah State.
First four out
Wichita State, Colorado State, Boise State, Saint Louis.
Next four out
Memphis, Ole Miss, Seton Hall, St. Johns.
Others considered for at-large bids: Xavier, Western Kentucky.
On Life Support: Southern Methodist, Duke.
Multi-bid conferences: Big Ten (9), ACC (8), Big 12 (7), SEC (6), Pac-12 (5), Big East (4), Atlantic 10 (2), Missouri Valley (2), Mountain West (2), West Coast (2).
Leaders or highest NET from projected one-bid conferences – (21 total): American Athletic – Houston, America East – Hartford, Atlantic Sun – Liberty, Big Sky – Eastern Washington, Big South – Winthrop, Big West – UCSB, CAA – Drexel, C-USA – North Texas, Horizon – Cleveland State, MAAC – Iona, MAC – Ohio, MEAC – Norfolk St., Northeast – Mount St. Mary’s, OVC – Morehead St, Patriot – Colgate, Southern – UNCG, Southland – Abilene Christian, SWAC – Texas Southern, Summit – Oral Roberts, Sun Belt – Appalachian State, WAC – Grand Canyon
- Banned from participating: Alabama State, Alabama A&M, Delaware State, Auburn, Arizona.
- Transition schools, ineligible for the tournament: Cal Baptist, North Alabama, Merrimack, Dixie State, Tarleton State, Bellarmine, UC San Diego.
- COVID-19: Ivy League, Bethune-Cookman, Maryland-Eastern Shore, Howard, Maine.
NCAA Tournament language explainer:
- NET stands for the NCAA Evaluation Tool, which is the barometer for the selection committee. It includes game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin (capping at 10 points per game), and net offensive and defensive efficiency.
- Quadrant 1 wins: Home games vs. 1-30 NET teams; Neutral-site games vs. 1-50 NET; Away games vs. 1-75 NET
- Quadrant 2 wins: Home games vs. 31-75 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 51-100 NET; Away games vs. 76-135 NET
- Quadrant 3 wins: Home games vs. 76-160 NET; Neutral-site games vs. 101-200 NET; Away games vs. 136-240 NET
- Quadrant 4 wins: Home games vs. 161-plus NET; Neutral-site games vs. 201-plus NET; Away games vs. 241-plus NET
Note: Most statistical data is used from WarrenNolan.com. The NET rankings (NCAA Evaluation Tool) also are a reference point.
About our bracketologist: Shelby Mast has been projecting the field since 2005 on his website, Bracket W.A.G. He joined USA TODAY in 2014. In his eighth season as our national bracketologist, Mast has finished as one of the top three bracketologists in the past seven March Madnesses. He’s also predicted for The Indianapolis Star, collegeinsider.com and is an inaugural member of the Super 10 Selection Committee. Follow him on Twitter @BracketWag.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.