One word to sum up 2020 in a nutshell: madness.
Speaking of madness, March Madness 2021 is right around the corner. Selection Sunday — March 14, 2021 — is just two weeks away. Over the last couple of days or so, teams have been battling within their conference to try and secure that coveted spot in the biggest tournament of the year.
In years past, the anticipation of March Madness was through the roof. While fans are still excited, the tournament is going to look a whole lot different this year. March Madness is the next significant event to face the effects of COVID-19.
Earlier in the summer, we saw the NBA create the ‘bubble’ in Orlando, which was essentially basketball games being played in front of no fans. We saw the NFL go through an entire season with a limited amount of fans allowed only in select states. In fact, last year, March Madness was canceled as the wrath of COVID-19 was just beginning.
Sure, there will be that one team who busts everyone’s bracket and deems themselves as the Cinderella Story of 2021. But their fans won’t be able to bask in that glory as such in years past. The tournament will take place in Indianapolis, and the good news is that March Madness will be allowing 25% capacity of fans into stadiums.
While the fans won’t be able to make up for missed time last year, limited fans is better than no fans.
Now, to the good stuff. Who are the projected top seeds in all four regions? Who is projected to win the whole tournament? Which teams can we expect to see make a deep run into the tournament?
Well, as we know, with the game of basketball, anything can happen on any given night. The beauty of March Madness is that tomorrow isn’t promised. It isn’t like the NBA, where it’s a best of seven series. Teams with seniors or projected NBA draft picks know that it could be their last ever time wearing that uniform when they step onto the court. That sense of pride alone is what drives fans to the edge of their seats.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the top seeds as follows: Gonzaga, Baylor, Ohio St., Michigan. Most would be in concurrence that Gonzaga is the best team in all of college basketball. But that almost feels repetitive. It seems that every year Gonzaga is in the conversation for being the best team, and yet, they fail time after time of making a deep run into the tournament.
With that said, the effects of COVID-19 may actually benefit certain teams in this tournament. For the first time since 1995, Duke may actually miss the tournament. While they are catching momentum at the right time, they — along with Michigan State, North Carolina, and Kentucky — may be the last four out.
Those legendary schools’ potential absence may open up the door for another school to announce their presence. Some sleeper teams to keep your eye on as we approach the big dance are Illinois, Kansas, Florida State, Arkansas, Oregon, and Connecticut.
It will be exciting to see how this tournament unfolds with or without fans before our very own eyes. The Final Four will commence on April 3rd starting at 5 p.m. eastern time, and the NCAA Championship will take place on April 5th at p.m. eastern time.
As always, fill out your brackets, get your popcorn ready and enjoy the show.
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